DONNA can still remember how cold and dark it was on the night of June 21, 2018.
It was the night when time stopped. Her life forever changed. Her heart was irreparably broken.
On that night, in a single moment, her beautiful son Daniel decided he could not go on.
He took his own life.
The former primary school teacher of 27 years shares her story of loss and the painful journey that followed - to find a space for the grief that now defines her own life.
Lifeline Mid Coast held a small gathering to acknowledge the annual Out of the Shadows Walk and launch of its online virtual garden where people can plant a flower honouring the life of someone they have lost, or someone who is struggling.
Donna's story wrenches at your heart. But her words of hope, her strength, her resilience to live on, as much as it hurts because her son could not, is extraordinarily powerful.
I'm on a journey I did not choose to take. My journey will never end. I will be a passenger on this ship forever.Donna
"I'm not sure who I am or what I'm like anymore. I just know I'm not the same," Donna said.
"I know I'll never be the same. My values, belief system, trust and security have been shattered. Life's predictability and my dreams as a mother have been annihilated.
"Because of my recent experience with suicide, I feel like I live in two worlds simultaneously.
"I'm fearless and terrified at the same time. I feel with such intensity but I can also be numb. I'm so strong yet so fragile.
"But I cannot unsee what I've seen. My trauma cannot be erased or ignored. It's a part of me now and I'm learning to live with it and build a new life around it.
"I'm on a journey I did not choose to take. My journey will never end. I will be a passenger on this ship forever."
Daniel was born in 2000 and was a sweet and gentle toddler, Donna said. He grew into a smart, but timid child then a skinny, quiet, academic and kind teenager.
He was not bullied, he liked school but had no close friends. Daniel was yet to get his driver's licence, didn't drink alcohol and had not had a girlfriend.
"He was so innocent," Donna said.
Several weeks before his 18th birthday, he confided in Donna that he was sad.
A visit to his GP confirmed depression but because he was not suicidal, they would have to wait 11 weeks for a specialist appointment.
Eight weeks later, Daniel took his own life.
"I know that it's confronting to hear and I know it probably doesn't fit well in your ear, but nor should it," she said.
"There's nothing palatable about suicide.
"Only those who have had a lived experience of suicide can understand my confusion, guilt and pain."
She described the months that followed as an "unrelenting maze of shock and grief" for her family.
The support she received helped her bear the weight of this deeply personal and inexplicable tragedy.
"Asking why and never knowing" haunts her every day.
With the help of Lifeline and its support after suicide group, Donna says she can take off her social mask and speak genuinely about her loss.
Every day eight people lose their life to suicide.
It is the leading cause of death for people in Australia aged between 15 and 44.
For every statistic, there is a broken heart that needs healing. A family left behind asking why.
I learn to honour him and be kind to myself. I learn to accept that anger, the sadness, the frustration, the withdrawal, shock, denial, guilt and fear are all a part of my journey.Donna
"I can think out loud and feel my emotions at full force and I know I'm safe," Donna said of Lifeline's support.
"I talk, I cry, I rant, I listen, I try to desperately make sense out of something that has no logic, no reason, no rationale.
"I absorb the love and healing in the room. I talk about my beautiful boy with people who want to know him.
"I learn to honour him and be kind to myself. I learn to accept that anger, the sadness, the frustration, the withdrawal, shock, denial, guilt and fear are all a part of my journey.
"I learn to take the steps I need to keep moving forward at my own pace.
"This group has been my life raft as my ship dips and sways through some very rough seas. Lifeline has been my sunshine after the storm.
"I know more rain and strong winds are predicted but I have my experienced crew with me to navigate it all."
To seek the support of Lifeline Mid Coast visit their website here.
You can plant a flower in Lifeline's virtual garden here.
Lifeline's 13 11 14 service is staffed by trained volunteer telephone crisis supporters 24-hour a day, seven days a week.