Saturday 18 November 2017

'I'm holding the hands of his two little girls' - Mum who lost her estranged husband to suicide on raising his daughters without him

Billy pictured with his daughters Marissa (12) and Charlize (5)
Billy pictured with his daughters Marissa (12) and Charlize (5)
Billy, who worked in the Irish Defense Forces, took his own life in January 2017
Marissa (12) and Charlize (5) pictured with their mum Ansi.
Billy's daughters Marissa (12) and Charlize (5) releasing balloons for their dad.
Ansi pictured with Billy on their wedding day.
Billy pictured with his daughters Marissa (12) and Charlize (5)
Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

A mum who lost her estranged husband to suicide earlier this year has said many people don't understand the grief she feels following his death because they were separated.

Ansi Prinsloo (41) had been separated from her husband Billy Lenihan for three years, when he tragically took his own life in January, leaving behind the couple's two daughters, Marissa (12) and Charlize (5).

Ansi pictured with Billy on their wedding day.
Ansi pictured with Billy on their wedding day.

The mum, who lives in Athy, said it can be difficult for people to understand her grief because the pair had not been together when Billy died and said it has been difficult to lose the person who had been her "best friend" for so many years.

"I feel like some people have this idea that because you were separated you don't have the right to mourn, to grieve for him.

Billy pictured with his daughters Marissa (12) and Charlize (5)
Billy pictured with his daughters Marissa (12) and Charlize (5)

"Billy was my best friend for such a long time and now that he is gone, I'm holding the hands of his two little girls trying to get them through this.

"We had been separated for a few years but we still had a good bond, we had a relationship for them. He still picked them up once a week and every other weekend."

"It was so confusing when he died, there were no signs, he never gave me any reason to think that things might not be okay."

South African born Ansi said it has been difficult to watch her young girls cope with the loss of their dad and can identify with them, having lost her own mother in a murder-suicide when she was 20.

"I know how hard it is to grow up without your parents. I'm so sad for my girls every day that they'll grow up without their daddy. They had such a great bond, they loved him so much."

With her daughter Marissa, Ansi will take part in the Darkness into Light Walk in Athy, to help raise vital funds for Pieta House on May 6.

Marissa (12) and Charlize (5) pictured with their mum Ansi.
Marissa (12) and Charlize (5) pictured with their mum Ansi.

The beautician said although her family has not used the services provided by organisation due to the huge support network within the Irish Defense Forces, where Billy worked, she knows the organisation will help other families like her own.

Ansi has also organised a fundraising night in The Duke Pub in Athy, to support the charity, and plans to shave her head for the cause on May 6.

"We've been so lucky to have the support of Billy's colleagues and his friends, but Pieta House is such an important and worthy support for people who are suicidal and struggling, and also their families.

"If people felt like they could go and talk to someone it would make such a difference. There are always people there to help you, to listen to you. No problem is so big that it can't be dealt with.

"If Billy had just known that, or seen the turn out at his funeral, if he had just seen how many people cared about him and wanted to help, he might still be here."

To support Ansi's fundraiser in aid of Pieta House visit www.gofundme.com

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article please contact the Samaritans on 116123 for support or visit the website on www.samaritans.org.

Pieta House can be contacted on 1800 247 247.  For more information on Pieta House and Darkness into Light visit www.pieta.ie.

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