Kokoda for Koda – from heartbreak to courage

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Some of you may recall earlier this year about a tragedy in Port Lincoln, Australia. Referred to as the Port Lincoln tragedy, a South Australian man killed two young sons in a murder suicide.

The husband Damien Little shot dead his sons, Koda, 4, and nine-month-old Hunter before driving them off a wharf in Port Lincoln in January.

The widow Melissa Little has opened up about her grief in a letter to The Advertiser saying she still thought about her boys every single day.

Mrs Little writes “The tragic event that took place in January has left me broken hearted,”.

“The loss of my children … and my husband Damien, has left me with only precious memories to hold.”

Mrs Little says “I searched for a challenge or something to motivate me to honour them.”

Her first challenge was trekking Papua New Guinea’s 96km Kokoda Track with a group of supporters on July 8.

She has further created a Facebook Page titled Kokoda for Koda. Her purpose for opening the page:

“I have watched my son Koda’s friends try to understand and come to terms with the fact that their friend is no longer here. This moved me to write a children’s picture book. The subject of the book is aimed to help children understand grief and promote discussion about the loss of their loved ones.

To make this possible I will be walking the Kokoda track in 2017 to raise funds, which will go towards covering the costs of publishing this book.”

MELISSA LITTLE’S LETTER OF COURAGE

Source: Perth Now Sunday Times

THE tragic event that took place in January has left me broken hearted. The loss of my children Koda, 4, Hunter, nine months, and my husband Damien, has left me with only precious memories to hold. No matter how I chose to deal with my grief, not a single day goes by without my boys in my thoughts.

It would be really easy to be consumed with the tragic story and the questions of why and how. But these are questions that no one can answer nor understand. The past devastatingly cannot be changed. Now I have to cherish the good memories that were had and continue taking small steps forward in their memory.

So as I try to deal with each day, as well as try to understand that no one could have helped my husband with his private and personal battles, I had to face the world again. The generous donations of the community allowed me to take time away from my teaching career. It also allowed me to grieve privately and manage the financial and general responsibilities I had to honour. I will always be grateful for the community, friends and family giving me that gift.

Koda Little and his brother Hunter Little. Picture: Supplied by family
Koda Little and his brother Hunter Little. Picture: Supplied by family

The more I tried to understand the “why” behind the tragic events, the more I realised I couldn’t have changed things. So, one day at a time, I tried to find strength to rebuild my life — always having my three boys in my heart. I searched for a challenge or something to motivate me to honour them … that was Kokoda.

In July I walked the Kokoda Track with a close group of family and friends in the memory of my family — Koda, Hunter and Damien. Kokoda was chosen for a couple of reasons. Koda was named after the Kokoda Track, as his great grandfather Maurice Little fought there in 1942. Because of this, it was our family dream to complete this trek together once Koda was old enough. As sad as it is that this will now never happen, it was in fact an easy decision for me to still do the trek in their memory. Walking the Kokoda required commitment and focus and it was this that kept me going through the first half of this year. When everything seemed so lost, I felt I still had a purpose; a purpose that somehow still included my family.

The Kokoda trek itself was powerful. Mentally, physically and emotionally challenging. It provided the opportunity to face my reality. To reflect, remember and feel. I felt a strong presence of my boys, they were there with me on the track, which got my though each day. My precious boy Hunter never got the opportunity to take his first steps so I continued to take small steps forward for him. I could also hear Koda cheering me on when the going got tough. Hopefully I made them proud.

As the days passed, I watched my son Koda’s friends try to understand and come to terms with the fact that their friend was no longer here, I was moved to write a children’s book. The book includes very personal memories but is also generalised enough that any child that has experienced the loss of a family member or friend will be able to put themselves into the story.

The purpose of the book aims to help children identify feelings, understand a small part of the grief process and most importantly to promote discussion about losing a loved one.

I am currently looking at ways to have this book published or distributed, so I can reach as many people as possible. I would ideally love to be able to have this book accessible to parents, grandparents or carers everywhere, so a simple tool to help start the conversation about grief, is possible.

I am keeping this project moving forward and maintaining my focus, by committing to walk the Kokoda Track again next year. I am funding the walk myself and have just launched “Kokoda for Koda — The Next Chapter — 2017” so I can share the journey with others. I have already been asked by people wanting to assist me publish and distribute the book when it is finished, so I will be holding fundraising events. An account will be set up for anyone willing to donate. Please follow my Facebook page Kokoda for Koda — The Next Chapter — 2017 for details @kokodaforkoda
thenextchapter2017

I have been overwhelmed throughout this year by the support of the local community and beyond. I wish to take this opportunity again to thank each and every person who has offered me their generosity but, most importantly, their understanding during this time. There are so many of us who have been left with holes in our hearts and our family because of this tragedy; this is my way of helping others because something good has to come from something so terrible.

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