The Fraser Coast’s art of connection

Alicia is a mum to her beautiful daughters, a mum to her foster daughter, a mum to the OzTag family, Touch Football and dance family and to her pet family. Working at a local school she mothers and supports that beautiful cohort as well. Alicia is also mum of a young man named Jayden Fisher.

It was February 2021 and Jayden was 16 years old when Alicia received the phone call no parent ever wants to receive. There had been an accident and Jayden was involved. Within days, the family was faced with the unbearable reality of Jayden’s sudden death.

Throughout this dark and confusing time, as she tried to navigate a new life, it became very clear that this was a journey that Alicia would take alone.

Being a bereaved parent of a young person is a heartbreaking and soul crushing experience and one that is lonely because (thankfully) she is one of only a few.

Families like Alicia’s harbour their feelings to protect others because they do not want to burden anyone else with the darkness and sadness of reality. It is a lonely truth that no one knows the extraordinary emotions of a bereaved parent unless they too have experienced loss.

Alicia is also a Dunga Derby team member and has loved being part of the phenomenon that Dunga is within our community and raising funds for Rally for a Cause. That relationship and commitment made Rally for a Cause the ideal charity partner as they already work with families going through difficult circumstances.

This is what led Alicia here…

In December 2022, Angel Families was founded to provide support to bereaved families on the Fraser Coast.

Angel Families will be an informal community where people can support each other through the difficult times ahead. A place where they can just be. A place to chat, cry, laugh, remember, be angry or sad and everything in between. It is a peer group of people who have experienced the death of children who were under 21.

Our Fraser Coast community has experienced so much loss of our young ones over the last couple of years and families have been struggling through the process of grief on their own due to a lack of support services.

Over the last couple of months, Alicia has been quietly working behind the scenes to ensure this group will provide support to local families and with her hard work it has the backing of Rally for a Cause, a well known local charity.

Angel Families is based on an informal community-based peer support model. Research shows that most people who have experienced the death of an important person in their life greatly benefit from peer support. Angel Families peer support model consists of bringing people together in groups where they participate in activities to promote discussion, learning and exploration. Our group creates a safe environment for families to remember and share their grief story and develop a sense of possibility and hopefulness for the future.

Informal peer support programs like Angel Families are widely accepted as the most effective way to promote post-traumatic growth and reduce the stress associated with grief and loss. This peer to peer support style addresses the needs of the whole person by breaking down isolation and stigma, equipping families with coping strategies and communications skills and promoting good mental and physical health. It will help children and families face their grief from the start and provide tools, connections and information they can use for the remainder of their lives.

Grief does not have a timeline. That doesn’t mean the intensity of the experience will last forever. It will evolve and reemerge throughout a person’s development. Grief becomes more manageable and less intense with support systems and a caring community of family and friends.

For more information, the group can be found on Facebook or by contacting Alicia on 0447 492 857 to find out more.