Everyday Hero Nominee Colette Byrne‘2 or 3 in the morning, in that pitch darkness, who do you turn to?’

As heard on Today with Sean O'Rourke

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The People of the Year Awards have been running for 43 years and every year, there is no shortage of people to choose from for the honour of Everyday Hero, someone who benefits their family, neighbours or community in a special way. In association with the Rehab Group, the Today Show with Sean O’Rourke will be featuring some of the nominees over the next few weeks. Today, Evelyn introduced the first nominee for this year’s awards, Colette Byrne.

Colette Byrne founded the website and chat forum widow.ie following the death of her husband, Peter, in a road accident. Peter was only 32 and the couple had a 3-year-old daughter at the time. Colette was nominated by David Curran, one of the site’s users. He “stumbled” upon the site when looking for somebody to talk to after his wife’s death.

“You find yourself absolutely lost. You don’t know where to turn. There’s nowhere you can go to. There’s nobody [who] can understand what you’re going through…you don’t want them to understand because they have to go through it. So, finding widow.ie – and we all talk about it online – it’s a life-saver.”

Praising Colette’s “amazing resilience”, David explained that a big help for him is always having someone to talk to, regardless of the time.

“2 or 3 in the morning, in that pitch darkness, who do you turn to? And so, yes, you’ll see people on at 2 in the morning, 3 in the morning…it tends to be that darkest hour before the dawn that you get into a tizzy about the future. The children. Everything, to be honest. It’s a terrible time. So, the website is everything, in many ways. Most of the people I would talk to about Joanne or grief now is online.”

Colette said that following her husband’s funeral, she felt a need to talk to somebody who had gone through the same thing. This hope that she would find others like her prompted her to set up the website.

There’s a period of time in the weeks after the funeral. You know your family have to head home, they can’t be with you night and day. And you know you’re going to have to stand on your own two feet and you also want to grieve quietly to yourself at home. And, initially, I used to write in a little diary but you wanted to actually talk to somebody who was around your own age who’s been through it and you’re really just looking for reassurance that everything’s going to be okay.

Listen back to the full segment on Today With Sean O’Rourke here.

Nominations are now closed for this year’s “Everyday Hero” Award.

© The Listener 2018

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