Moving on from tragedy

FORWARD TOGETHER: The Young family watches the sunrise over Old Woman Island at Mudjimba Beach.
FORWARD TOGETHER: The Young family watches the sunrise over Old Woman Island at Mudjimba Beach. Nicola Brander

ONE year ago, Tim Young lost two of his brothers and his sister-in-law in the Coolum tragedy that shocked the nation.

He also gained a 12-year-old daughter. She escaped from home with the help of a neighbour after her mentally ill uncle, Anthony, attacked her parents, Dave Young and Louise Dekens, who died in the incident. Anthony lost his life several hours later after being shot when he confronted police.

The Youngs have taken the time to thank the community for their generosity during their period of grief.

"We would like to thank the community for their generosity, close friends and family for their support, the professional guidance and building suppliers who contributed over the past year," Tim said.

And they have explained how they have been able to move on, despite the most awful circumstances.

At the orphaned girl's request, she moved in with her paternal uncle, Tim, aunt Sharon and their 14-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son.

"Although we wish this had never happened, death leaves us no choice but to move on with love, respect, forgiveness and gratitude for what we do have," Tim said. "It has not been an easy year. But we are lucky to have each other even when we still have some logistic problems to sort out.

"The children and us have had considerable counselling to help cope with the many aspects of our family tragedy. Without this advice, we wouldn't be where we are today, and we strongly recommend expert guidance.

"When something truly awful happens, compounded by grief, adults have different viewpoints. We have been astounded by the wisdom of the children and their capacity to move forward with life and just be happy no matter what."

Sharon said the experience had taught them the past could not be changed in life.

"It's everyone's personal choice how they react and what help they seek. As the children have bonded into a new family unit, they have taught us that life can be what you make it - and they are happy.

"Since our niece asked to come here the day after she witnessed the death of her parents and uncle, we have simply made room for her.

"To our niece we said, 'You have somewhere to belong and we will love you', and to our own biological children, 'She now belongs here and we love you'.

The girl's grandparents also said they are happy she is in "the right place" and is doing "so well".

Tim and Sharon are proof there is hope for the future, even in the midst of the worst possible tragedy.

"In the end, it comes down to a sense of belonging, compassion and love - no matter what is in the past," Tim said.

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