SURVIVING LOSS: Judy McDermott and Daphne Louis.
SURVIVING LOSS: Judy McDermott and Daphne Louis.

Painful burdens spark bid to help

PART of Daphne Louis and Judy McDermott died when their loved ones were slain many years ago.

The pair, while never meeting until recently, have both harboured dark and painful secrets.

Daphne's 23-year-old daughter Lara Ashcroft was strangled and run over in April 2001 by Lara's former partner, Stephen Wayne Robson, on the Rockhampton to Yeppoon road.

Judy's father Kevin was stabbed to death by her allegedly mentally ill brother Ken in August, 2003, at Harland, near Kilcoy.

Since the death of their relatives, the pair said they had been unable to find the support they crave.

Their families have split, their friends have vanished, they both contemplated suicide and both suffered bouts of depression long after the deaths.

"I lied in bed for three months crying,'' Daphne said yesterday.

"I was being eaten up by this (grief). People told me to snap out of it, but I couldn't.''

Judy said for her, her father's death at the hands of her brother was like a double-edged sword.

"I wanted to hate the person who did this, but he was my brother. I wanted to love him as well.

"I just watched Oprah and ate for about the first year-and-ahalf.

"I used to pray to God to take me through the night, but he didn't.''

Daphne and Judy said they had both tried counselling and joining the Victims of Crime group, but were still having trouble coping.

Judy said she felt like a "fruit loop'', crying all the time. Sadly, the pair said their support networks quickly dried up.

Daphne said no one wanted to know her when they discovered her daughter's fate.

"Oh boy, how they run,'' Daphne said.

"Around the funeral there were heaps of calls, but that all stopped within a few days.

"People are afraid they'll say the wrong thing or make me cry, so they just don't mention her or talk to me at all.''

Daphne said her other daughter and grandchildren had also distanced themselves from her following Lara's death ? although she would dearly love to reunite with them.

In the meantime, Judy and Daphne have began to forge a strong bond after meeting by chance at work.

Judy, as it turns out, was the same age as Lara and had even attended the same school.

The pair are now planning to turn their hurt and suffering into a helping hand for others in need.

Judy said the pair hoped to start their own group for family and friends who have lost through murder or suicide.

"One good thing has got to come out of my dad and Lara's death,'' Judy said.

"It has to be for something. It can't be for nothing.''

Daphne said the group would meet regularly and be available to support others in their time of need.

Judy said it would help immensely to have the support of others who have experienced the pain of loss.

She said there were so many Central Queenslanders who had suffered loss and she hoped they may be able to help in a way they never experienced.

Judy said she hoped the group would one day have its own room somewhere and appealed to anyone interested to contact her (initially through The Morning Bulletin) on 4930?4253 or email

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