ALL Souls’ Day will have special meaning for Roy and Mary Jackson this year. It is the year that two of their children died from suicide.
All Souls’ will be a day of marking the closeness they feel to their daughter Teresa, who died on January 31 at the age of 25, and their son Greg, who was 44 at the time of his death on April 20.
Explaining that sense of closeness, Mary recalled what it was like for her at Mass one morning.
‘When it came to the Hosanna I thought, ‘Here we are, joined with Greg and Teresa. They are at the throne of God praising him and we’re here at the altar of God praising him’,’ she said.
‘It was a connection.’
Roy, 73, and Mary, 67, believe that because of that connection All Souls’ Day will hold more significance for them this year.
Added to that, the couple earlier this month witnessed the launch of the Rosies Tapestry Fund, which will support an expansion of Rosies’ street outreach to youth in Queensland, after they made a seed donation in memory of their two children.
The staunch Catholics, formerly from Kingaroy but now living in retirement on the Gold Coast, will start All Souls’ Day on Tuesday with Mass.
While reflecting on the pointlessness of suicide, Roy said that because of Greg and Teresa’s deaths, All Souls’ Day would have ‘a deeper meaning than previously’.
‘It seems to be something more personal.’
He says calling it All Saints’ Day would probably be more appropriate for he and Mary, because that was how they thought of Greg and Teresa.
Mary also said she preferred to think more of the communion of saints on All Souls’ Day – ‘that makes it very real, because [Greg and Teresa] are near to us’.
‘We’ll be praying with them,’ she said. ‘We have that feeling that they are close to us.’
All Souls’ Day would be a remembrance day for Greg and Teresa, she said.
‘It’ll certainly have much more significance for us having lost two children who we were so very close to.’
Above all it will be a day of hope for both Mary and Roy.
‘I think that having these two very loved children die before us, death doesn’t hold a sting for us anymore,’ Mary said.
‘They’re waiting for us and we’re waiting to go to them.
‘I guess [All Souls’ Day] will be a celebration because we’ll be celebrating their lives with God, and praying for them of course.’
The Jacksons have eight other children. Greg, who worked in the media in Brisbane, was the eldest and Teresa, a Royal Australian Navy lieutenant, the youngest.
Mary said faith was important as they lived through their grief, along with the support of family and friends.
‘Our faith has been of tremendous importance. If we hadn’t had our faith to cling to, I don’t know where we would have finished up.’
Mary said they had had support from people they did not even know – people who knew Greg and Teresa.
She said it had been a struggle for Greg and Teresa’s siblings, most of whom have young families of their own.
‘They’ve had to get back into the mainstream of life but it has been hard for them.’