independent

Sunday 18 August 2019

Strong message in Megan's essay

Megan Shiel with her essay.
Megan Shiel with her essay.
The late Mikey Shiel.

Pádraig Byrne

The devastating impact that suicide can have on a family was laid bare in a beautifully penned essay written by the daughter of much missed Wexford man Mikey Shiel.

18 year-old Megan Shiel was just 15 when her beloved father died in July of 2016 and in an essay, written as part of her mock exams for the Leaving Cert, she explored the range of emotions that can be felt by those left behind.

'She's not really a talker as such,' said proud mother Mareva. 'She's done a bit of work with the ASK campaign along with myself, but I think this is the first time she's really expressed herself on the topic and the feedback has been phenomenal.'

In her essay, Megan writes about the night she found out of her father's passing. She was having a sleepover with her friend when her grandad sat her down and told her what had happened.

'I was uncontrollable, screaming the house down,' she said in the essay. 'I couldn't even breathe. This couldn't be true.'

Megan went on to describe how her father had been in great form before his death, having managed her brother Josh's hurling team to success in the Feile.

'I think as time goes on, you learn to cope with the loss better, but by no means does it get any way easier,' she said. 'For me what helped me get through this difficult time was talking and also writing. Having friends, family and someone to talk to was and still is my saving grace.'

Also addressed in Megan's essay are the niggling questions that are often left for families in the wake of a tragic death like this.

'This tragic change has had a huge impact on my life in both positive and negative ways,' she said. 'I went from a family of four to a family of three in tragic circumstances that are out of my control. I had no role to play although I do constantly ask myself why I didn't see a huge change and how I didn't stop him from doing what he did, but I was oblivious to what went through my Dad's head. He wore the mask and he wore it well!'

Finally, Megan urges anyone who is going through difficult times to seek out support.

'There is so much help out there, but at the same time, not enough,' she laments.

'The person fighting the battle has to be willing to seek the help they need. Having gone through this loss/change I now ask the question "Are you okay?" more. Nobody knows what anyone is going through, we all have our own battles and this could be a life changing question.'

'This huge change has changed my mentality and my outlook on things. I am now involved in the ASK Campaign and will do anything in my power I can to help people going through the battle. I believe this important change has helped to shape the person I am today.'

The reaction to Megan's essay has been fantastic and it has been posted online by the ASK campaign as well as being put on the wall at the Presentation school, so that all students can benefit from her message.

When the Leaving Cert is finally done and dusted, Megan is hoping to go to college and become a social worker with a focus on mental health and, judging by her essay, she may just have a knack for helping others that find themselves in difficult situations.

Wexford People

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