We are three sisters from a small village in Roscommon, the west of Ireland, having previously lived in Leixlip, Co. Kildare.
We are honest and kind, though sadly we are also heartbroken.
In January 2016, our sister, Jacinta, passed away suddenly and tragically, aged only 30, due to an undiscovered Brain Aneurysm.
And now as i rewrite this piece I add in that we have also just lost our brother Fintan in April 2017 one week after our first official Jacinta`s Smile event.
As you can imagine this has caused undescribable pain, absence and fear for our whole family which now consists of our Mum and Dad, Helen and Frank, our brother Sheridan and our nephew Ethan.
We have spent the last few months trying to come to terms with our difficult loss but to be honest we are still shaken.
Last year before we lost Fintan we attempted to help ourselves through our grief by creating a reason to get up in the mornings so we decided to set some goals.
One of these goals was the decision to run the Dublin City Marathon on October 2016. This was a first for us unathletic women.
As with any event such as this fundraising has continued to take place and this is where our story opens and deepens…
In May of 1996 we lost our brother little Declan to a rare malignant Brain Tumor.
He sadly passed away 6 months after he was diagnosed. As a small Thank You for the care Declan received our family (in particular our amazing Dad) instigated numerous fundraisers throughout the years for Crumlin and Beaumont.
Declan had just turned 7. He was mischievous and generous and just like his big sister Jacinta his smile would light up a room.
As we were a young family, ranging in ages between 3-13 when Declan passed we grew up in a bereaved household. We spoke openly and despairingly about our feelings, frustrations and heartbreak.
As a result of watching Declan go through his treatment we also knew how it felt to be the non sick child.
We know from 1st hand experience that mourning may not present itself until the sibling has grown up. In our family in particular Fintan struggled with the loss of his little brother Declan and felt he could not save him. This leaving him to live shrouded in pain and sadness. He got stuck in his grief.
Even though we grew up in the same household we all experienced our bereavement at different times and in different ways. There was no once size fits all.
All we did have in common is that we felt lost and very lonely.
This experience has led us to cater to those brothers and sisters that may be feeling empty or full in their sorrows, to know that they are not alone in their heartbreak. To acknowledge them in a creative way and offer them a space to be held.
We know that Jacinta and Fintan and Declan would like us to support the children that are missing the joy of their sibling.
For these reasons we have created our own Foundation to encourage enjoyment, letting go and freedom to be themselves and be celebrated for being.
With the funds raised we have created some active, exciting and fun filled adventure days for the Siblings of Loss that we meet along the way. This will also give them the opportunity to make new friends and connect with others in the same head space.
We, as sisters who are and have been in their position are extremely passionate, honest and heart centred and we look forward to all the energy of light that this foundation can continue to provide in depths of their darkness.
With breath and with body,
Aishleen, Katie-Anne and Charlotte
We Thank You in advance with deep, deep gratitude.
Aishleen, Katie-Anne & Charlotte O'Toole xxx
Phone: 087 422 00 00
Go Fund Me: https://www.gofundme.com/jacintassmile