On 12 August it will be one year since Sai Kung was shocked by the sudden death of Daniel Groshong, 54-year-old philanthropist, family man and all-round-good guy. The community’s heart went out to his widow, Menzi, and bereaved children, Agos Patrick, now 17, and Anna May, 13. Daniel was killed when a tree collapsed across his 4X4 in the East Timorese mountains.
Menzi is now in East Timor helping, as the first anniversary of the tragedy approaches, organise memorial events for Daniel and the two others killed. Here is a message to BUZZ from Menzi:
“Throughout the year we have struggled at times with our feelings, very sad, emotional, sad and afraid. Afraid because I’m not sure if I can go through the emotional stress and I’m not sure if we can survive with our financial problems* (see Menzi’s bank account details below). My kids are happy for the reason that they are distracted by going to school everyday and meeting friends and of course with my love and care. The kids are amazing. There’s not much emotional stress, but they miss their Dad Daniel Groshong so much. For me I’m struggling as well taking care of my kids and working two jobs. It’s hard to be a single mom.
“I am in Dili now trying to organise meeting friends, visiting Daniel‘s grave. After that all friends will meet at the beach at what they call the Beach Bar which was Daniel’s favourite spot to meet friends. We will light candles and offer flowers on the beach and mingle and chat with all friends. I am going to visit the family of a guy who happened to be with Daniel (at the time of the accident). He was working at the Tourism Department in East Timor Dili. He left three children. I will also be meeting the guy who happened to be with Daniel too during the accident and he survived. His name is Danny and his girlfriend Ruth was in the accident and died. Organising Daniel’s one year death anniversary is not fun but I have to be strong.
“My kids are not with me because it’s very expensive to fly down here.”
To state the blindingly obvious Menzi and Agos Patrick and Anna May have been victims too of an awful tragedy. They have to cope with the emotional stress as well as loss of the main family bread-winner. Over the past year Sai Kung people have reached out to the family to support them as best they can. *If you wish to help financially Menzi’s bank account details are: Dacuycuy Menzi P. HSBC 0554 220 598 33.
Menzi has written a further message to family, friends and supporters:
Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening to Everyone,
As we mark the first year of our dear Daniel’s death, it brings up so many emotions about our past and what our future may have been. There are a lot of “what if’s” and “what could have been’s” in my head if Daniel was still here with us in the physical world, but that’s the reality I needed to accept – that Daniel is no longer physically with us in this world.
Today, I want to honour Daniel with this speech by letting him know that his family that he never wanted to leave is recovering from the pain and is doing great despite all the hardships we’ve been through this past year. There are indeed a lot of challenges we needed to hurdle through, but we’ve learned how to be strong by drawing strength from one another and learned how to function as a family with a missing piece in our hearts.
I remember one day, our little girl, Anna May, was crying and told me “I miss my Dad, I want my Dad here with me”. That day, I wanted to cry with her because the pain that I felt when I heard her say those words were unbearable, it was the worst pain I’ve ever felt as mother because I felt powerless. If I could only turn back time and save Daniel I would do it to save my kids from their grief, however that was impossible. I needed to be strong for my kids, so I set my tears aside and wiped my daughter’s tears away and hugged her tight. In that moment, I realised that I am not only their mother, but I am also now their father. Not long after, I learned to ask for help because it didn’t take too long for me to figure out I couldn’t possibly assume all the tasks my husband performed let alone my own. Thank God my family was there for us in every step of the way.
A lot of people ask me if I’ve already “gotten over it”, I know for sure that me and my kids will never get over our father’s death, we will never get over our grief because he is such a huge loss in our lives. We may never ‘get over it’ but we have surely reconciled over it. We accepted the reality, and we just need to move forward with our lives and I’m sure that this is what Daniel wanted us to do – to move forward no matter what happens. We did find hope through our grief and moved forward with our lives without our dear Daniel. It was not easy but we took one day at a time which turned into weeks, months and now a years.
Today, I want us to remember how great Daniel impacted our respective lives, how personally
compassionate he is as a husband, father, brother, uncle, and friend. Our Daniel died in search of a better life for the Timorese people. It is unfair but life, in its essence, is unfair. I have thought of what might have been if he was still here, but I will move forward, smile and be grateful that I had been loved and cherished by an amazing guy, my Daniel, dearly loved.
Let us all remember all the love and laughter we shared with Daniel, let’s all cherish it and remember him in that moment for the rest of our lives.
In memory of Daniel – philanthropist, environmentalist, activist, photojournalist, father, brother, uncle, friend, my loving husband.
Good day to everyone.