Lessons in coping with grief and loss: Greg and Kevin’s story
Greg Davison and his son, Kevin, live together in their beautiful Whitsundays community.
In late 2021, they said a sad goodbye to wife and mother Sally; a well-known Elder in her Indigenous community outside Alice Springs, and a talented artist.
Sally – who passed away from cancer just two weeks shy of her 50th wedding anniversary with Greg – is missed in their community, where she was a regular at the museum and cafes.
Most of all, she is missed at home, especially by Kevin, who has a severe intellectual disability and can struggle to process his emotions and new situations.
After Sally died, Greg says he faced “massive changes” in how he cared for their son, and the duo were struggling to cope physically and emotionally.
It was recommended they organise an NDIS plan to allow Kevin to foster new relationships and a positive and productive outlook for life.
Greg – who grew up in the Whitsundays – says seeking support and adopting a plan have provided immediate benefits for himself, and especially for Kevin.
“He’s doing really well. Now, he goes to the physio once a fortnight which has strengthened his movements.”
Kevin is also able to attend regular speech therapy sessions to help improve his communication skills.
“I don’t think he’s ever going to be really fluent, but he certainly has improved.”
Kevin is hesitant to speak unless he knows a person well, but Greg has found that regular speech therapy sessions have helped his son improve his interactions with others while in his home and in his day-to-day living.
“His general demeanour has improved out of sight. He’s not a violent person at all, but he can be very stubborn and go silent and say or do nothing.
“If he gets upset he just goes quiet. He’s always been very kind and respectful.”
Generally, Kevin wakes up early before sunrise but now, rather than not interacting, he’s initiating chats with his dad in the mornings.
“For the first time in his life, he is coming out and saying, ‘Good morning, how are you?’ Which is really, really good.
“And now, when he leaves the house, he’s saying ‘bye’ or ‘see you later’.”
Greg says Kevin has always been well-mannered, but the extra support and encouragement to improve his communication is motivating him and providing him with a different vocabulary to use.