Grieving parents to help others

2012-04-16 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG couple who lost their 20-year-old son in a car crash more than a year and a half ago will be starting a support group for grieving parents.

The idea for the group came out of a song composed by Sylvie Williams, whose son Vinodhan died in September 2010, when he lost control of his car and crashed into a tree. Paramedics on the scene found that his heart had stopped. They revived him and he was rushed to hospital where he later died.

Williams is no musician and the only singing she did was in her own home with her daughter, Savaniya.

However, the song she composed in English called My Love, has taken on a life of its own.

She had written the song for her son’s one-year memorial service and vividly recalls how it happened.

She was watching the rain, feeling depressed and weighed down by her grief. Her inspiration came while staring mindlessly at the raindrops.

She rushed into the house and only managed to find a stub of a pencil and began writing.

Relatives who heard the song at her son’s memorial service encouraged her to make it into a CD, saying it needed to be shared as it would offer comfort to others.

A relative sent the song to Radio Lotus where it won first prize in a song-writing composition.

Since then Sylvie and her husband Segie realised that they couldn’t ignore the fact that they could help others who were going through the grieving process.

The launch of the CD and the support group, which will be known as Cycle to Reality, will take place on Saturday, April 21 at the Aryan Hall in Raisethorpe.

For the Williams family, the entire initiative has come about because of an outpouring of support and love from the community.

Sylvie said that firstly the song evolved with different musicians getting involved.

Her uncle, Shan Chetty (76) who last played his saxophone 30 years ago, took it out of its case, dusted it off and plays a hauntingly beautiful accompaniment.

Segie said that Hospice chairperson Pete Jugmohan goes for his daily walk past his house. “I once mentioned the idea with him and he offered his help and has become part of the interim committee to get the initiative going.”

Sylvie adds that proceeds from the song will be going to three charities — Hospice, Pietermaritzburg Children’s Hope and Sunlit Gardens Home.

She said that another enthusiastic supporter was her late uncle, former councilllor Pops Chetty. He was her late mother’s brother. “He attended all our planning meetings and I wanted him to chair the opening meeting, but it is almost as if had a premonition he said ‘no, I may not make it you must get someone else’,” she said.

For Sylvie and Willie the song sums up how they are trying to cope with their grief. It is similar to a famous Cecil Day-Lewis poem, Walking Away — about love being proved by the letting go. They add that while they have a lot to offer other grieving parents they also have a lot to learn and hence the idea of a support group.

“We know that as much as we lost a son, we also had a daughter who was grieving [and] who needed our love and attention as well. This is why we decided to call the group The Cycle of Reality. It is about parents and siblings understanding the reality or our lives. This is how life is for us parents who buried our children, how we get strength to go on cope and still be there in a positive way for our other children,” said Sylvie.

Speakers on Saturday will include psychologist Dr Anthony Pillay as well as Cherri Forsyth, who runs a group for grieving parents in Hilton.

Admission to the function is by invitation, which can be obtained by phoning: Sylvie Williams: 033 397 9888 or 083 561 8936, Pete Jugmohan: 083 940 8372 or Michael Chetty: 079 778 5535.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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