On the 28th July 2019, my 19-year-old son Tom died instantly in a car accident, just 23 days shy of his 20th birthday. If you look at his photo you can see a lot about who he was. How when he really smiled, it went right to his eyes, and right into yours. How his heart was just as big as that smile you see. He was funny, cheeky, stubborn, loyal, and yes, like most teenage kids and their parents we had our moments, but my love for him and my 3 other boys was and is fierce.

Tom would have turned 21 this year on the 20th August. I have fought a lot internally about the first anniversary of his death, and how my family and I will remember him on his 21st Birthday. That is how “Tom’s 21” came about. On the 20th August I will run 21km in 2:21 minutes to raise money for Children’s Hospital Foundation to help bereaved families. I am not the first and sadly I won’t be the last person to lose a loved one, a child, when you then find yourself in a place that is terrifying and unchartered. I came to work as the Accountant at Children’s Hospital Foundation in November 2018 not knowing what was to come. I didn’t know the extent of what parents or siblings would need in the event of a child’s death, but I have seen now first hand, how our amazing team and others in the hospital, now my friends, help families in our situation. I have been very lucky. I have an awesome family and close friends who have rallied around us, and who are not scared to say Tom’s name. This isn’t always the case for people.


“Tom’s 21” has 3 main objectives.

  • One is to get Tom’s beautiful smile out there, to spark a happy memory in those of us who knew him, and a vision of who he was for those who didn’t.
  • Two is to raise awareness around Mental Health. I have found in grief, there is a very dark place. A place that is not always easy to pull yourself out of. This will be different for everyone, but for me it is music, writing and running. “Tom’s 21” is not a cure for that dark place, it will come and go. But it is a way for me not to linger there too long, so I can continue to be a good mother, wife and friend, whilst trying to carry the loss of Tom.
  • Three is to bring attention to what Children’s Hospital Foundation do. Last January at work, I had quite a messy breakdown in the office. One of those ones I normally can control until I am on my own. I ended up over at the hospital with Leigh, a Bereavement Counsellor who looks after the families in the hospital and whose role is funded by the Foundation. I remember telling her I have been trying so hard to “get better”, I’ve been doing all the right things, but I felt like I was getting worse. When she said to me, “You are not sick, this is grief. It needs to be carried and tended to”, it changed my perspective and the direction in which I needed to go.

 

This is just a snippet. I can’t imagine the trauma that families go through in the hospital in so many different situations, and without the support of our extended team, or the awareness they are there to help, during and after, I believe they are missing out on much needed love and guidance.

So, if you can contribute that is great, however it is not just about the money. Sharing this post is also a wonderful way to help. It gets Tom’s smile out there and may just help someone else who is also struggling with a loss of their own.



Children's Hospital Foundation

You can make a difference by helping the Children's Hospital Foundation to work wonders for sick and injured kids by funding vital research, new equipment, and providing entertainment and support for children and their families in hospital.

Everything we do is made possible by the generosity of our supporters and partners in the community. With your help, we can fund life-saving research to achieve faster diagnoses, better treatments and ultimately cures for some of the most devastating childhood illnesses and injuries.

With your help, we work wonders for sick kids every day. We turn tears into smiles, fears into hope and ideas into life-changing care and treatments that help kids get better and go home sooner. We’re making a difference to children’s health to create a brighter future for all Queensland kids.

The Children’s Hospital Foundation is the official charity of the Queensland Children’s Hospital, the Centre for Children’s Health Research, and for all sick kids throughout Queensland.

20 August 2020

21km | 2hrs & 21mins


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