Ode to Carers

So, what do we do now?

That moment. That look.

Emotions swirl through my body, washing over me. Instant transforming. Nanosecond interchanges.

Panic. Confusion. Fear. Frustration. Anger. Rage. Failure. Shame. Guilt. Insecurity. Anxiety. Fatigue.

Endless, persistent, sleepless fatigue.

Breathless terror.

All in one heartbeat. In hearts beating too fast.

Hands clammy. Eyes Dilated. Faces ashen.

We look at each other. Incredulous.

No words. Yet, endless knowing between us.


So, what do we do now?

We are his parents. His carers. His life-givers. His life-savers. For now.

Experts come. Go.

Crisis averted. For now.

No imminent risk, they discern. This is code.

Under-resourced-understaffed-you-know-what-you’re-doing-over-to-you-have a nice day.


So, what do we do now?

Suicide’s monster wave dumps our battered body-spirits violently, onto reality’s shores. Again.

Casualties too.

Cast adrift. Beached. Stranded.

Seemingly invisible. Yet evident enough to be accountable, responsible for what comes next.

Without helping Us, they leave. Us. Alone.


So, what do we do now?

Forensic focus on our child-consumer-problem splinters Us.

Disempowers Us. Silences Us. Breaks open Us-as-family.

Transgenerational suicide traumatises our DNA.

For us, crises are not averted. Only delayed.

Solace escapes us.

No respite for monster wave Horror survivors, facing possibly another.

Inevitability plays with us. Taunts us.


So, what do we do now?

Heartache – our forever loving life partner.

Somehow, polished by infinite tears and years,

our broken-open hearts turn shiny.

Blindingly bright.

Dazzling diamond brilliant strength.

Our enduring relentless aching resilience.


So, what do we do now?

We do what carers do.

We. Just. Do.


Roma Aloisi

26 August 2020

At the chalkface of suicide

I experience the extraordinary privilege of being an educator. Teachers care deeply for students. My expertise in senior secondary brings intensity, achievement, and loss. Saying good-bye is never easy.

Sometimes I witness precious potential bloom into mature adulthood through future happenstance. What joy!

Other times, I witness precious potential prematurely lost through death by suicide. What sorrow! What regret!

Forever young they remain in my broken strong heart; a heart also forged by lived experience of teen suicide as sibling and as mother.

My students’ passing, though diverse in timing (in school, post-school), gender and culture, all have in common well-intentioned risk averse schooling institutions’ struggling to cope with these “incidents”, as they are framed.

Once funeral rituals end, unintended consequences of policy and community practices render the bereaved silenced, ignored, and isolated.

In the workplace I feel expectations to pull myself together, wipe away stinging tears and to move on, fast. Any faltering is constructed as a performance issue – a failure of my leadership.

Free external workplace counselling is conflicted; generous yet avoidant. Impacts of lived experience of suicide are distanced, obscured, hushed. Kept outside.

The stiff upper lip of Anglo dominant culture prevails, reducing those lost and those grieving as the ‘forever forgotten’.

I mourn the loss of yet another student, a young Aboriginal woman.

My lamentations as an outsider are invited and welcomed by her Aboriginal community.

Here I encounter extraordinary generosity of spirit amongst extraordinary transgenerational and intergenerational sorrow.

Here, suicide is more frequent.

Here it is named.

Rituals emphasise ongoing connection.

Those eternally re-membered and eternally grieving, are honoured.

Here healing begins.


Roma A.