Grief killed my wife

By admin
02 July 2010

She didn’t leave a suicide note but when Helena van Dyk took her life in the early hours of the morning after the festivities of the World Cup kickoff, her husband and daughter knew what had driven her to do it.

After 18 months of mourning their beloved son, Richardt (20), who had been fatally stabbed while visiting a friend in Stellenbosch, Helena (53) no longer wanted to live.

“She died of grief over our child,” her husband, Jannie (56), says, sitting in the lounge of their home in Durbanville near Cape Town.

“She told me she would never get over his death; she would never, ever be able to come to terms with it.”

“This house has been in mourning for the past 18 months. It’s something no one will understand. My wife is gone, my son is gone,” Jannie says, fighting back the tears. His daughter, Ernalize (27), and his son-in-law, Stephan Gunter, are the only people he has now. “Fifty per cent of my family is gone,” he says sadly.

“Richardt and Helena were very close. He adored her and she him,” he says, his voice cracking.

On 13 November 2008, Richardt visited Tertius Lambrechts in Stellenbosch. They had been bosom buddies since primary school.

His parents were told later that Richardt and Tertius had had a drink or two in the Lutz Building, a student home, when a fellow resident, Dawid Cloete, asked them to keep quiet. Cloete and Tertius were involved in a scuffle.

“Richardt intervened and was stabbed with a knife,” Jannie says sadly. He had three stab wounds, one where the blade penetrated his lung and the right ventricle of his heart.”

The doctors were able to get his heart going again but the brain damage was too severe and five days after the tragedy Richardt’s heart stopped.

Cloete appeared in the Stellenbosch regional court on charges of murder or alternatively culpable homicide and attempted murder. He pleaded not guilty. He admits stabbing Richardt with a pocket knife but claims he was acting in self-defence.

Her mom didn’t recover from Richardt’s death, Ernalize says. “We could see she wasn’t herself but we didn’t think she’d do something like this,” she says, shaking her head.

Jannie and Ernalize are now consulting psychiatrists to try to cope with the double tragedy.

Their ashes will be scattered together in the Grootrivier pass near Nature’s Valley, a picturesque coastal village near Plettenberg Bay, where they said during a holiday journey they would one day like to rest.

Read the full article in the YOU of 8 July 2010

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