I created this project in memory of my gorgeous sister Alana. Two years older than me, Alana was a fun-loving Sydney girl who was dux of her high school, completed a university degree overseas and was set for a promising career in international marketing. She was sporty and outgoing but behind her infectious smile, battled the effects of an eating disorder and depression for nearly a decade. Tragically, at the young age of 23, Alana decided her fight was over.
The two years since Alana’s passing have been incredibly challenging emotionally. Not only have I lost my partner in crime, confidante and role model, but also part of how I define myself and our exciting future together. Her death has taught, and continues to teach, me a lot about my own friendships, family and society in general. What I have found most surprising is, despite the prevalence of death in the media and in our own lives, it remains a taboo subject even among those closest to me. When I open up to strangers, it’s astonishing how many of them have similar stories, and how many of them also feel like they’re left to face their pain alone.
People directly affected by tragedy, however, aren’t the only ones who face such difficulties. I’ve learnt that many of my friends, and even some family, struggle to give support in the wake of tragedy. While they want to be there, they don’t want to mention Alana’s name out of fear of upsetting me. In a similar way, they often want to help but don’t know how.
This is where Our New Lives comes into the picture. Driven by my background in print and broadcast journalism, insatiable curiosity about people and desire to cultivate positive change in myself and others, I’m determined to help break the silence on death, grief and recovery. While I’ve spoken at several eating disorder and suicide-related events in Australia and the United States, I’m only just getting started.
If you would like to collaborate or share your story, or simply pass on some feedback, please contact me at info.ournewlives [at] gmail [dot] com.
Lots of love,