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Gentle prayer for lives lost

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Dianne Todaro-Wells shares her story. Photo: Catholic cemeteries + crematoria
Dianne Todaro-Wells shares her story. Photo: Catholic cemeteries + crematoria

Family members, friends and first responders gathered to pray for all who have lost their lives through suicide or misadventure over the past year at the Mention My Name memorial prayer service at St Mary’s Cathedral on 7 September.

Bishop Terence Brady presided at the emotional service which is organised annually by Catholic Cemeteries + Crematoria and Grief Care either in parishes or at St Mary’s.

Following carefully chosen Scripture readings, gentle prayer and reflection, people were invited to light a candle for their loved one.

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Parishioner of St Aloysius parish in Cronulla, Dianne Todaro-Wells, bravely offered a short reflection on the loss of her adult daughter Carla to suicide.

“I have a one in six higher chance [of suicide] than the average person who has not experienced a loved one’s death from suicide.”

“Death is hard enough, but suicide is a very complex conversation. I am proud to be a mother of my beautiful daughter and to honour her name, Carla Serena Anastacia Todaro.

“I too now am susceptible to go down that road, I have a one in six higher chance [of suicide] than the average person who has not experienced a loved one’s death from suicide.”

Ms Todaro-Wells said she had received deep consolation through her faith and singing in the choir in her parish.

Grief Care’s Sinead Kent told The Catholic Weekly that there is still unfortunately a stigma around suicide and many older people especially carry a burden of unspoken and unresolved guilt and shame about the death of their loved one even several decades later.

Bishop Brady joins those lighting a candle for suicide victims. Photo: Catholic cemeteries + crematoria
Bishop Brady joins those lighting a candle for suicide victims. Photo: Catholic cemeteries + crematoria

“Most of the time it really is a mental health issue, this is a disease that kills.

“Each year we select the Scripture readings and prayers very carefully to address the guilt that people feel and people do tell us that they come away from these evenings feeling a bit lighter and that they have more hope.

“They also appreciate being among people who know what they’re feeling because they’ve experienced a similar loss themselves.”

Recent figures by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that more than 3000 Australians die by suicide each year, three quarters of them male, and one quarter female.

“More than one-third (38 per cent) of people aged 16-85 years have been close to someone who has taken or attempted to take their own life.”

One in six Australians (16.7 per cent or approximately 3.3 million people) aged 16-85 years had experienced suicidal behaviours in their lifetime.

More than one-third (38 per cent) of people aged 16-85 years have been close to someone who has taken or attempted to take their own life.

For details of upcoming Grief Care memorial Masses and prayer services, visit: https://catholiccemeteries.com.au/grief-care/

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