Debbie’s Story

By Nicholas Marouchak

07 May 2021 - 4 min read

There was a knock at the door.....

  • At 12pm, there was a knock at the door. There were two policemen standing there…
  • They said, “please may we come in, there is something we need to talk to you about.”
  • I knew something was really wrong.
  • You see these things in the movies, but you don't expect it to happen in real life.
  • They asked for my name, and if I have a son. I told them I did.
  • They then told me my son, Blake had died. Blake was just 31 years old.
  • The next couple of days were pretty barbaric.


A Call from the Coroner

  • This is the very first time that an immediate member of my family passed away.
  • The whole thing was totally unexpected.
  • We were contacted by the coroner's office and asked if we wanted to see Blake.
  • When we got the call, were all still in denial.
  • I was hoping they made an error in identification. I was hoping this was just one big mistake.


Identifying Blake

I went to identify Blake’s body at the Coroner’s office.

When we got there, the staff were all very nice. One woman said, “I’m sorry, I hadn’t had a chance to dry his hair.” I thought that that was the least of my worries, but I knew she was just preparing me.

I went into a room where they had Blake. The bed was behind the curtains. I pulled back the curtains and saw him.

A sheet covered his body, just below his face. One arm was sticking out uncovered. His facial hair had been trimmed. His hair was wet but it didn’t matter.

He looked beautiful, absolutely beautiful. It was like he was asleep. He looked just like a porcelain doll.

When I saw Blake lying there, I was still in disbelief. I half expected him to open one eye and say, “gotcha mum!”.

I touched his arm. He was cold but it wasn’t uncomfortably cold. Plus, I wasn’t thinking about that too much, as I was focusing on his facial features and holding onto the moment.

I took quite a few photos of me just talking to Blake.

I can replace anything in the world but those photos, I'll never be able to replace. I’ll treasure those photos forever. I joked to Blake, “You do this again, and I’ll knock your block off!”.

As hard as it was, I’m glad I spent that time with him. I knew there was no error in identity.

I am extremely grateful that I had the courage to see Blake one last time.

We stayed with Blake for 2 hours.

When it was time to leave, it was really hard because I knew that was the last time I'd see him.

The Next Few Days

For the next three to four days, I was just numb.

Our front door was just a revolving door of friends and family coming to visit. Emails. Phone calls. Everyone made contact. Nephews, cousins, work colleagues, Blake’s work mates, kids he went to school with – everyone.

I set up a shrine in the house for Blake. I put photos of him I really loved. And flowers. We had more flowers than a florist.

The close family were there everyday, bringing food and helping out in any way they could.

The best advice I got immediately after Blake died was from a person at the Coroner’s office. He said to take a step back. Pause for a moment to clear my head. Grieve however I want, but don’t rush off right away to make funeral arrangements.

Those first few days were a constant flow of people but I found it was important for me have my own individual time.

After having people coming and going all the time, by the evenings I was just mentally and emotionally exhausted.

Sleeping was difficult.

I kept the front light on – hoping Blake might still come home.

Support from friends and family was really important at that time.

I went through photos and videos of Blake just so I could listen to his voice. Even the ones where he’s saying “Mum, will you bloody hurry up and take the photo!”.

I’d play it back, again and again – just to hear to his voice. That helped a lot.

Doing Something For Blake

Blake would always tell me he liked my hair cut short. That memory just kept going through my mind.

So, the first time I left the house since Blake died, I went straight to the hairdresser. My hairdresser said, “Debbie, I only just cut your hair a few weeks ago!”

I said I didn’t care, and just to cut it all off. Cut it how I used to have it… That’s how Blake liked it.

In my mind I had done something for Blake. Something that he wanted me to do for a long time. Something I’ve been meaning to do but never did.

I went to pay for the cut but my haidresser stopped me. She said, ‘don’t worry about paying, that’s a gift to you from Blake’. That moment melted my heart.

Small, things like this just helped deal with the grief.

Blake’s Send Off

I was stressing about a funeral from the start.

The coroner’s office suggested that I not rush off and plan a funeral”. So we took our time planning Blake’ send off.

I spent an entire day just picking out photos to display. We had photos all over the floor trying to map it out.

The day was perfect.

Taking Home Blake’s Ashes

I got a call that Blake’s ashes were ready to be picked up. I knew that would be hard for me to do.

My family offered to come with me, but I wanted to go on my own.

When I first picked Blake up, I was so surprised at how heavy the ashes were.

I sat Blake down on the front passenger seat, and buckled him up with a seatbelt.

The drive home was one of the hardest things I’ve done. I just kept thinking about the time I brought Blake home from the hospital after he was born.

How Debbie Is Going

You never get over grief. It’s always with you, especially during birthdays, Christimas and other important holdidays.

Debbie is doing better and better each day.