What's Big Love?
We are a charity that provides support to any Australian family who has a parent diagnosed with a terminal illness. The families we help are about to experience the death of a parent, we gift them with family experiences and photography sessions – sort of like the Make A Wish foundation, but for grown ups.
We are also building a toolkit of resources to support parents and their children navigate the tragedy of a terminal journey, and death of a parent/spouse.
We believe our mission is unique to Australia, and unfortunately there are many families to help. We liaise with palliative care teams across the country, and our team will set to work to provide affected families experiences, photography, and support resources designed by qualified professionals specifically for the children and surviving spouses after the death of a parent.
Who do we support?
Any Australian family who has at least one child of primary school age (or younger) and has a parent/carer diagnosed with any terminal illness.
How do we support them?
We receive qualified referrals from palliative care departments across the country. With help from their key-contact, we work out what might be most helpful to the family. Our help ranges from providing a toolkit of support resources, to a photographer for a family photo session, to weekends away or holidays, depending on what the terminal patient is capable of.
2018 and beyond
We are currently in our fundraising stages, taking small steps towards big goals of being a nationally recognised, supported and valuable Australian charity. Our 2018 focus continues to be running events and getting precious dollars in the bank so that we can begin to provide families with experiences and support resources.
Our fundraising activities this year are going to be mostly our #takethephotos franchise, and while we will be running other local events, we expect much of our funding will come from our photography events. All of our events are family focused (kids always welcome and catered for) and celebrate the beautiful togetherness of families.
In November of 2014, my husband Brett had a bit of persistent heartburn. After a few trips to the GP he was on some prescription antacid medication. On December 2 of that year, we were told he had stage 3 oesophageal cancer and had 6-18 months to live. He died 42 days later. He was 35. I was 34. Our children were 2, 3 and 5. He was an incredible dad, a really attentive, nothings-too-much kind of dad. We miss him tremendously, and always will.
The day he died was the day we were supposed to have our family photos taken, but he was just too sick. I was constantly taking photos of our kids, but we don’t have a single photo of our family of five. This is the motivation behind Big Love; Brett’s cancer was so aggressive and so shocking to us, we both stopped working immediately and our finances were pretty desperate for a while. Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t have had one last family experience together. Sadly, many other families will be in our position, and I want to help them.
Raising grieving kids on my own has been exceptionally difficult, and from experience I can confirm that there is very little information and resources about how to parent, how much they should know, what sort of language to use and how to allow them grieve. Not to mention how you grieve yourself while raising those kids. There is no formula for how to get through this situation, and there is a desperate need for support resources in this field, which is the second objective of this mission.
Sadly, there will be many more children who experience the death of a parent, and more husbands and wives will be without their spouse. I’m lucky enough to have recruited some exceptional people to help me in this mission, I hope you might be one of them.