Three little girls have been sentenced to life — a life without their mother.
When the devastated family of murdered mother-of-three Allison Baden-Clay yelled out “yes!” in the courtroom as her husband’s guilty verdict was read out, I, like the rest of Queensland, wondered what was next.
Gerard Baden-Clay will serve a life sentence in jail; three little girls also have a life sentence — life without a loving mother. Sadly they are not the only motherless children walking amongst our community. But unlike other tragic deaths that may have taken a mother early from illness or accidents, these girls have to now navigate the world using words like ‘homicide’ and ‘murder’ to explain the absence of their mother.
Gold Coast child care worker Monique Ferrario’s brother was murdered and now gives her support to other homicide victim’s families. She spoke to me about the future they can expect.
What’s next for these three beautiful girls and their families?
Each family member handles things differently; even in my own family we’ve had different coping mechanisms. They’ve got to try and rebuild their lives now that court is finished. They may receive counselling, others prefer to deal with it themselves or just with the help of family and friends. It’s important for everyone to know there is help out there.
What do you think is the most important first step?
Grieving. When a homicide occurs a family’s grief is so public. The community is behind you but its quite intimidating being questioned by the media. For us it was about remembering our brother and son and trying to focus on the good times while processing what had happened. You do have to try and get on with life, it’s a new normal.
How do you handle questions about your family? How do people react when you tell them about your brother?
I found it really difficult because it made the other person feel uncomfortable because this doesn’t happen to normal people in normal life. I love talking about my brother, it doesn’t make me upset all the time. For people who do find someone who’s had a loved one murdered, keep talking to them — it’s really lovely to have that loved one brought up and remembered.
How can we support Allison’s family and her three daughters?
I guess the number one thing is personal space and privacy, that’s very important. But don’t be afraid to talk about it and their loved one, because that I think is a really important part of the healing process. It doesn’t matter how someone dies, they don’t want their loved one to be forgotten. A homicide is such a touchy subject but it’s awkward for victims as well, because it’s not something we’ve ever had to deal with either.
As a community, let’s wrap our arms around these three girls and show them their mother will never be forgotten.
Our thanks to Monique for sharing her first-hand advice. Monique’s brother Mitchell Ferrario was stabbed to death on April 9, 2009 in Junee, New South Wales, leaving behind a young son and grieving family.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this story encouraged people to wear yellow and do a good deed in support of Allison Baden-Clay’s family on Friday 8 August. Of course, Wear Yellow For Allison Day was held on Friday 1 August.