Tuesday 12 November 2019

'Mam collapsed to the floor wailing. I stood in complete shock and denial' - DJ (27) on the death of her brother and father

DJ Meghann Scully discusses the death of her brother and father and how she tried to navigate her way through her grief

Meghann Scully holding a picture of her brother Marcus
Meghann Scully holding a picture of her brother Marcus
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

"The surgeon came in with a nurse and Mam, Dad and I stood together. They started talking medical gibberish and were listing his endless injuries that I won’t mention as it is quite upsetting to hear. As they spoke I stood waiting for the line that they always said in ER on Sunday nights, 'But we managed to save him.' And I waited. Until eventually the surgeon said the line that I can hear still to this day. 'We did everything we could, we couldn’t save him.'

"I looked at him very confused. They didn’t say that in ER. Mam collapsed to the floor wailing. Dad tried to pull her up. My family members all roared crying. Mam and Dad grabbed me. Everyone started pulling at me. GO AWAY, I screamed in silence. I didn’t want anyone to touch me. I was in a state of complete shock and denial. He is not dead. Marcus is not dead. My brother is not dead."

In her new memoir, DJ Meghann Scully shares her experience dealing with grief and how she rebuilt her life after the "darkest hours".

The 27-year-old DJ at Spin South West radio, has launched a new book entitled 'Broken Love: My Journey Through loss and Grief'.

In her book, Meghann explores the shocking deaths of her brother and father, just 18 months apart, and how it affected her teenage years.

Speaking to Independent.ie, Meghann gives readers an exclusive insight into her new book.

Meghann Scully
Meghann Scully

"In 2005, my only brother Marcus died in a car crash alongside his friend Cathal. He was only 18 and my family was devastated.

"Marcus was travelling home from GAA training when the car crashed. I'll never forget the phone ringing and hearing that Marcus had been injured."

Meghann said that at just 15, her "whole world was turned upside down" at the news of her brother's death.

"I was 15 at the time so I had to learn what it was like to deal with grief at a very young age. I had just finished my Junior Cert mocks and my world was turned upside down.

"At 15 I should have been worrying about what dress I would wear to the disco, not about burying my brother. At first, I thought he was just injured and I was worried about how much time he would have to take off from training. It was so difficult trying to come to terms with the fact that my healthy and happy 18-year-old brother was dead."

Meghann said that watching her parents Maxie and Pauline deal with her brother's death made it harder for her to grieve.

DJ Meghann Scully
DJ Meghann Scully

"My parents were so devastated. My mum used to wail during the night. Her crying in the hallway used to go through me. I had to suppress my own feelings and be around for my mum.

"After a while I knew I had to return to school and that was very difficult. One of the hardest things about grieving is that one day you wake up and realise that things have to go back to a new normal. You realise you have to get up and go to school or work because life hasn't stopped and that's really difficult to grasp."

She added that going back to school was "extra difficult" because everyone treated her differently.

"My first day back was horrific. Everyone was staring at me sympathetically. I just wanted to ignore my grief and escape the sadness at home. There was a dark cloud over my entire family and I just wanted to escape it all."

Meghann said that she "put her head down" and threw herself into her Junior Cert studies.

"I realised I had no other choice but to get on with it and that's what I did. I wanted to do well in my exams for Marcus."

Just 18 months later, Meghann was struck by another tragedy.

Meghann’s father, Maxie, died too, aged 52, “of a broken heart”.

"My dad died just before I was to sit my Leaving Cert. I walked back into the assembly hall and had to face my entire year staring at me again. I wanted to put my head down again and push away all the grief I was feeling."

At university in Limerick, Meghann said she flourished after getting a fresh start.

"In college nobody knew about my grief. I didn't have to tell anyone about my brother and my dad. It was just what I needed.

"I was outgoing and chatty in college. I was the life and soul of the party and was always organising fun events for my friends. I never showed anyone my vulnerable side."

It wasn't until Meghann did her Masters in NUIG that she says she suffered from a "breakdown".

"Everything just became too much and I said 'enough is enough'. My body and mind changed and I could no longer hide my grief. I thought I was having a breakdown but my mum said I was having a breakthrough.

"It was 10 years since my brother's death that I finally started to grieve properly. I could no longer escape my feelings and I had to deal with them then and there.

"I went through a lot of different processes including counselling and alternative healing and I felt it very useful talking with people who had been through similar experiences.

"When I went through my breakdown I thought I was losing my mind because I had read that grief passes within 5 years. But there I was feeling this way 10 years later. I thought something was really wrong with me because I was still grieving. There is no time limit on grief. Everyone goes through the stages at different times and there is no 'normal' process.

"My book also focuses on the message that no matter how lonely grieving can feel like, there is always someone there. No matter how dark the days are, you will get through it. You will move on and see the light at the end of the tunnel."

Meghann said she also dedicates a chapter of her book to separation and divorce.

"My parents separated when I was a toddler so I wanted to share my experience of that too. Nobody really talks about divorce and separation in Ireland but it is very common now."

Meghann Scully's book, Broken Love: My Journey Through loss and Grief is available now.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News