I am the middle sibling and if it weren’t for my brother and sister, I could not have got through the months and years that were to follow dad’s passing. The traumatic experience totally shattered our family unit, as dad was our rock, our leader, and was no longer there. We were devastated by his loss and there was a gaping hole where his larger than life presence once filled. However as a family we had to learn to re-adjust to our new roles and the new family dynamic, and work together to support each other through our different grief journeys.
Grief affects everyone differently, so allowing each other to grieve when and how we needed and without judgement really helped us get though the roller coaster. As a family we always check in with each other, and have open and honest dialogue with each other that cuts through the bull s$%t. Grief doesn’t just disappear after a couple of weeks, and it can rear it’s head at the most unexpected times and places. My family bonds are even stronger now than they were before, and I know dad would be proud of us for getting through this experience together, as a family.
Dad passed away in September 2013. I had helped mum care for him for 11 months and during this time I had done a lot of introspection (soul searching sounds a bit cheesy) and knew it was time to follow my heart. Two days before dad passed away, I got a job at The Fred Hollows Foundation. This job changed my life and it was exactly where I needed to be in order to deal with the grief-stricken months that were to follow. By doing a job that fulfilled my purpose in life, I could cope with the trauma that my family was experiencing after dad died. Coming to work each day knowing that I was making a positive difference in the world fulfilled me on a personal and professional level.
Skip forward a year and although I loved my time at the charity, I knew it was time for me to move on. My care package business idea was boiling away inside me and I could no longer ignore it. I once again listened to what my heart and gut were telling me to do, and took a leap of faith into the online start up world. I was inspired and immediately started thinking of a business name. I workshopped the name with my partner, friends and family (thank you Facebook) and registered ‘Caring Canary’ a few days later.
I created Caring Canary as a legacy to my dad’s pain and suffering. I want to help other families and individuals who are going through grief, illness or trauma to feel connected and loved, rather than isolated and alone. My online gift boutique allows this and encourages people to reach out and connect in an easy and convenient way. I want to make it easy for people to show they care, and for more Australian’s to feel special and cared for when otherwise they wouldn’t.
The adversity of losing a parent to cancer taught me that life is too short to fear the unknown and I soon discovered that all I had learnt in my career in TV could be put towards my new business idea, so together with this expertise, I harnessed my grief to create a business that would help others and spread happiness through connection and meaningful gift-giving.