A bereavement councillor who runs weekend camps for grieving parents is to address an open meeting of the support group Anam Cara tonight (Wednesday).
Peter Hanlon works with Barretstown in Dublin – a specially-designed camp that provides Therapeutic Recreation programmes for children with serious illnesses and their families – and the HSE as a specialist in suicide bereavement.
He will speak to parents in the Galway branch of Anam Cara about the journey through grief and loss after the death of a son or daughter.
The free specialist talk tonight – one of two given in the nine regional groups every year – is all about helping parents understand their grief, explains one of the founders of Anam Cara, former Galway resident Sharon Vard, who lost her daughter to a brain tumour at age 5.
“When you understand your grief it loses power over you. Initially parents feel so powerless. I’d lost my dad and I grieved. But when Rachel died come up on ten years, the carpet is just pulled completely from underneath you. You’re exhausted. You don’t know where to turn. It’s as physical as it is mental. You think you’re losing your mind.”
Set up by bereaved parents in 2008, the name Anam Cara translates as soul friend and was the title of the 1997 bestseller on Celtic spirituality by the late Galway-based author, poet and ex-priest John O’Donohue.
For parents who experience the sudden death of a child outside of a hospital or hospice, there is no follow up by authorities. This support group allows grieving parents to link up with each other and get group counselling from a professional free of charge. The focus of the monthly parent evenings is on ‘peer support with appropriate professional intervention’.
In Galway that is provided by psychotherapist Grainne O’Connell. ”We try and nomalise it. We do recognise where parents get stuck in anger and guilt – and they’re two of the most useless emotions, they take up a lot of energy but sometimes it’s easier than sadness. We try and walk them through their journey.”
Nationally, 2,500 families have to endure the experience every year. No matter what age the son or daughter was, or the circumstances of their death, to bury a child is unnatural, which is the reason why losing them is so difficult to bear.
“Meeting with parents a little further on in their journey gives newly bereaved parents some hope that in time, they too will find ways to cope with the intense grief and sense of loss,” said Sharon.
“There is comfort in knowing that you are not alone, that other families are dealing with the same tragedy, someone does understand.” Between 10 and 30 people attend the meetings, which take place on the first Wednesday of each month from 7.30pm to 9pm at Ballybane Enterprise Centre.
Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run
A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.
He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.
The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.
The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.
Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.
Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda
Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.
He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.
Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.
In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.
There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.
The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.
Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.
Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.
Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.
Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.
In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.
He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.
Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway
Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.
That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.
“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.
“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.
“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.
“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.
Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.
“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.
“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker. Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.
“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.
“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.