Our daughter Grace was gentle, kind and funny. She had a creative, artistic soul and was always writing, sketching, making. She loved to sing and had a beautiful voice. She was a sweet and precious daughter and a lovely, funny caring sister and she brought so much joy to our family, more than she ever realised.
In school, Grace began to struggle with anxiety and was sensitive to the highs and lows of friendships. Her worries were exacerbated when she was bullied in senior school, excluded and ignored by former friends, despite having done nothing to them. This experience cut her deeply and Grace believed it was her fault. It caused her to protect herself in social groups by staying silent and not being herself, which grew into social anxiety even amongst people who loved her.
Grace began to flourish at art college and began to put these times behind her but continued to battle social anxiety. However, she bravely faced each day, with new people and new experiences but was often exhausted from the burden of hiding how overwhelmed she often felt. At the end of 2017, Grace struggled with a season of intense mental ill-health and her anxiety grew, as did a depth of both inexplicable sadness and confusion in her mind and she spiraled into a dark depression.
Depression doesn’t let you think rationally. It clouds every thought, confusing and entangling your inner world spiralling you into a nosedive which is hard to rise up from without help.
Grace had described in her journals that she was desperate for the pain in her head to stop, but she found it almost impossible to verbalise the enormity of what she was going through, instead taking the pain out on herself by harming, cutting and attempting to take her own life on several occasions.
Despite us trying to advocate for her, the system was against us and Grace didn’t receive help in time from the professional team she was referred to – help which she so desperately needed. Grace attempted suicide again at the end of March 2018, hurting herself severely. She was in a coma for a week but the damage was permanent and Gracie never regained consciousness. It was devastating. We miss her every day but are so proud of all she achieved in her short lifetime and of everything she was to us .. our world.
What she has left behind is an irreplaceable void in our family and the ripples of losing her are far-reaching to all her family, friends and loved ones.
Grace needed support and help to recover from becoming completely overwhelmed by life. She needed people alongside her to help her through the terrible darkness and anguish in her thoughts, to explain she wasn’t going mad, but that she had an illness that she had every right to seek treatment for – not to feel ashamed of and as though she were a failure. With the right support Grace could have come through the darkest part of her distress – as many sufferers of mental ill-health do – and found her way back to us.
Grace was my greatest champion as I set out to start the charity a few years before she became unwell. She felt deep empathy for people’s brokenness and she wanted to reach out to others. She often found small ways to show kindness to friends and strangers.
We love Gracie so much. We believe she’d be very proud of what we have begun and that she’s cheering us on. Our world is so very much dimmer without the light of her in it. In memory of our beautiful girl, our wish is to offer strength, encouragement and support when life feels super-tough, to help others on their journey and to see them come through to a better season, a lasting season of wholeness.
A couple of years ago, before Grace became unwell, a group of us wanted to take action for people that had become overtaken by feelings of hopelessness – not knowing at that point that just such a need would arise from within my own family. We had the vision of providing a residential facility in which young women could step away from the pressures of the world for a while, to discover their true identity, to know they are worthy of great love, to find restoration and find freedom from emotional and psychological distress.
And so Grace to Restore was born.
Our desire is to promote a lasting legacy of renewal and hope for others suffering with mental distress – for them to find strength to go on and a way forward.