White Island volcano survivor’s emotional plea during COVID lockdown
Stephanie Browitt overcame extreme adversity as she lost her father and her sister in the White Island volcano eruption.
As she lives in Melbourne, she has also been in lockdown and has shared a message of hope.
"As someone who is grieving deeply and has essentially been in lockdown since early December, due to my six months admission in hospital, I truly believe that focusing on what you can’t change is wasted energy that could be used elsewhere," she explained to The Herald Sun.
She explained that her time in hospital was tough, but she kept sane by focusing on having her "normal day to day life back".
As she was released when Melbourne is in lockdown due to COVID-19, she unfortunately hasn't had that experience.
However, she doesn't let it get her down.
"I’ve learnt one of the hardest lessons in life which is that you never know when you’re going to lose someone you love," she shared.
"I lost my dad and sister so suddenly and I would do anything and everything to have them in lockdown with mum and I.
"I feel as though people don’t realise how precious time is and that you don’t often get the chance to be with family like this," she said.
Stephanie also explained that being in lockdown in Melbourne is something that "everyone is going through together".
"It isn’t forever and that’s what I choose to focus on.
"I choose to take it one day at a time and enjoy my time with mum. I choose to explore what I can do from home and get creative with my time. I choose to stay home and accept this because everybody deserves to feel safe," she said.
She also urged people not to be selfish and be "team players".
"We need to be team players to overcome this petrifying pandemic.
"We just can’t afford to branch off on our own, at the risk of killing another or perhaps our own family members," she said.
Her mum Marie said that Stephanie will require more painful and expensive surgeries as she has amputated fingers and burns to most of her body that require a compression suit and full face mask.
“She won’t complain,” Marie said.
That’s despite the fact “she’s disfigured and her fingers are chopped and she’s burnt all over … she’s just trying to stay alive”.
The loss of family members seems to have hit the pair the hardest.
“My youngest daughter passed away on the mountain and my husband suffered to death. My other daughter is horrifically injured … I can tell you, there is nothing more important than family … just having your family alive and healthy,” Marie said.
“There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do — I would live in a gutter and give up anything — to bring my husband and child back.”
The loss still impacts them to this day.
“We cry daily, which doesn’t have anything to do with isolation, but because of our grief, our great loss, and our empty home which was once full of laughter and food and people,” Marie said.
“Every week, I go to the cemetery where my husband and daughter lay, just so I can talk to them. ”
Marie has some advice for Melbourne citizens who are struggling, which is to be safe with your loved ones.
“There are people out there, ignoring laws designed to protect their own family’s survival. I can’t comprehend it.
“If you have your family, and you have your health, you have everything. I just wish people could see that.
“But there are people out there putting themselves and their families, and other families, at risk, complaining about being stuck, with their family, at home.
“People are complaining about losing their businesses and the economy, and not being able to go shopping or out for a leisurely stroll, but these things don’t matter.
“There is no amount of money, no possessions, that I wouldn’t give up to get some of what I had back, just to get a glimpse of my child or hear her voice or laugh again, to smell her smell.”
“Material things you can always get back. You cannot get your family back … Death is irreversible.”
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