*FEATURE MONTH* Paul & Maree Wood, Sale - January// 2024 Mental Health Calendar

by Gippsland Jersey

Paul and Maree's journey through life has been one marked by the kind of tragedies that can either break a person or forge them into a figure of immense resilience. Their story starts with shared knowledge of grief. Maree lost both her mother and step father in a joint suicide as a teenager, then losing her partner Brad to a sudden heart attack. Whilst Paul’s wife Christie, died from a long battle with breast cancer. This shared experience of loss became a touchstone for their reconnection after many years. It was through mutual support and understanding that they turned their friendship into a comforting partnership over meals of dinner, rather than coffee. 

Together, they welcomed a child, Henry, into their lives. He has been completely adored and spoilt by all of his older siblings. But joy was quickly followed by sorrow when Paul’s son, Callum, tragically died in a car accident—a heartbreaking event that threw the whole extended family’s world into turmoil.

Both have faced having a child each with serious medical conditions, resulting in many trips to Melbourne for care and treatment, that is still ongoing today. 

The couple’s approach to dealing with such relentless adversity is deeply grounded in practicality and open communication. They find solace in working hard, staying busy and caring for their children, allowing them to focus on life's demands instead of being consumed by grief.

Whilst the pain of loss is ever-present, they strive to maintain a semblance of normalcy, discussing their feelings and memories whenever they surface, reinforcing their bond.

Paul admits to struggling with discussing his late son Cal, especially when it comes to the emotional aspects of his grief. Despite this, he and Maree maintain a policy of honesty and openness—if others inquire, they're prepared to talk about their experiences, though they guard their deeper emotions.

Henry, their young son, has been an unexpected source of strength and focus. His boundless energy and the demands of parenting him provide a necessary distraction from their grief. Others often express amazement at their ability to cope, but for Paul and Maree, it's not about coping with what they've endured, but rather striving towards a goal, towards what they want from life. “It's not about what you've been through…you can still honour the life that's been lost, but you still need to focus on yours as well.”

Their resilience shines through in their daily routine, with both immersing themselves in farm work and family time.” We’ve also purchased a shop in Rosedale called Little Fox Collectables and we’ve created a clothing brand ‘Hunting Over Generations’ in honour of Cal”. “Without the support of our adult children, we would struggle keeping everything going. “

They embody the idea that grief is a process not of permanent stasis but of continuous movement, recognizing that life is about forward motion, and while they grieve, they also plan to live fully for a long time to come.

 

 

 

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