Every Tuesday, Lyn who lived in Conjola Park, would take her 92 year-old mother who she cares for into town. One particularly hot Tuesday, they left home as usual expecting to be back by 10am.
Dressed in shorts, t-shirt and sandals, they never made it back – their homes were lost in the terrible fires that destroyed 89 houses in Conjola Park on New Year’s Eve.
In a couple of hours, Lyn’s life as she knew it was gone. At an age where she was looking forward to a happy retirement, she found herself starting over, with no belongings other than the clothes she had on that day.
Lyn was the family’s minder of records and memories – including photos and jewellery of her younger sister who died in a house fire 8 years earlier, household belongings of her daughter Alicia who was about to move into a new house, and other treasured memories like the Christmas decorations.
Lyn learnt about Quest’s services for fire-affected communities at the Conjola Recovery Centre. Quest’s fundraising and donations help support disaster-affected people to attend Healing Your Life or Moving Beyond Trauma programs. Lyn attended a program just a few months ago, after Quest reopened our Centre for face-to-face programs.
Lyn appreciated the time out for herself, the beautiful meals, and the nurture and care she received. Quest reminded Lyn of the importance of taking time out for herself, she learnt about the impact of trauma on the nervous system and what can happen when our body becomes programmed to go into high alert when we smell, see, hear, feel or taste again, what was traumatic at that time.
Lyn learnt ways to heal the distress, self-soothe, and look forward, not back on the horrendous year, and is thankful for the health and happiness of her children and grandchildren, and the pet dog rescued by her neighbours.
“Quest helped us all so much – I got so much out of it. I can now look forward instead of back.”
She is still learning to adjust to her new life, living with all her family in a small, rented house in a community that has been affected by profound grief. In small communities like this, there is a sense of interconnection and support as people feel for and reach out to others who have also suffered. Lyn now catches up regularly for a cuppa and check-in with her friend Michelle, who lost her loving partner in the fires.
Lyn shared her story as part of Quest’s 2020 Christmas Appeal.
Photos: Alicia, Michelle and Lyn; Remains of Lyn’s house;
The family dog saved by her neighbours; Floods at Lyn’s new rental house; Lyn’s mother’s 92nd birthday
Please donate and help more people like Lyn have a second chance in life.