The following information includes discussion about suicide. Reader discretion is advised. If you or someone you know is in crisis or experiencing thoughts of self-harm, please seek immediate support from a professional or contact emergency services.
Liv Lorkin's grief journey began when she was just one.
Her mum, Lynette, took her own life at 23, while the family was living on a farm in Western Victoria.
Liv, an author and illustrator and former Ballarat entrepreneur, became the second generation of motherless daughters in her family who grew up without their biological mother.
Her death left Liv's father Joe, then in his early 30s, to raise his young daughter and he relocated to central Victoria for his parents' support.
In the years to come, Liv's journey of discovery about her mother's death and her childhood trauma would eventually change the trajectory of her life.
"I think grief has been a very common thing, not just in myself, but in my family as well," she said.
Liv's experience with losing those close to her sparked a new journey, determined to ensure more children don't feel alone when faced with grief.
"I know from personal experience grief isn't an easy topic to talk about, but it's part of everyone's journey," she said.
"Some, like myself, walk that path sooner than others."
Dealing with grief as a child
Being raised by her father and her grandparents, she struggled to understand her family dynamic as a preschooler.
She quickly learned from other children that her situation was "different" to the norm at the time.
"There's actually a picture or some kind of artwork that I made in kindergarten. It had my dad, my grandpa, myself, my nan and my mum because I didn't realise everyone else had their mum on their artwork," she said.
As she got older, she found it even harder, as one of only two children at school who had lost a parent.
"I found it quite hard to talk about at school as well because I think you kind of want to fit in. Mostly, everyone else in my school had a mum," Liv said.
Dealing with grief as a teenager
The loss of her grandfather in her first year of high school was a different type of grief and had a profound impact on her teen years, having been a father figure.
He was in his seventies and as a child, Liv watched his health decline over several years.
"My nan cared for him while he was unwell up until his death," she said.
"I was in year seven and I remember on the day of his death, looking at the clock and I had a feeling that he had passed."
"It me, it was a different type of grief in a sense ... to see the physical pain he was in as well."
In her later teen years, Liv found herself wanting to learn about her mother and juggled between the curiosity around her death, learning who she was and being angry that she wasn't there.
"When you've lost someone but they haven't raised you, you haven't grown up with them, you kind of put them on this pedestal," she said.
Discovering her mother's grief journey
Her mother Lynette had a difficult childhood, when her own mother died when she was seven.
Lynette was separated from her three younger brothers and sent into care in Bacchus Marsh.
It was a traumatic time and one that would plague her for years to come.
Eventually, her mum reunited with her brothers, but she went through a similar journey in looking for answers.
"Her life had a lot of challenges in it," Liv said.
"She was a very beautiful, warm, kind and loving person ... who went through trauma and held onto that pain until the end.
"She didn't have access to adequate mental healthcare or a community that pushed through the stigma."
Uncovering the truth
During her childhood, Liv believed her mum had died of a brain aneurysm.
But she knew something was wrong, when she would ask questions about her mum and would be met with uncomfortable silence or crying.
It wasn't until she was 18, that in the lobby of Births, Deaths and Marriage, she discovered her mum had died as a result of suicide.
"I felt like my world had cracked open," she said.
"All I remember was uncontrollably crying and asking for directions to the bathroom from two confused men in business suits."
Her father and grandparents struggled to work through and communicate Lynette's tragic death.
They had expert recommendations at the time to not tell Liv how her mother died.
"To look back, I can put it into context why they wouldn't want to talk about it because it was so painful for them," Liv said.
"If you want to talk about suicide in itself, it's an extra layer of grief."
Using her grief to help others
Liv says her journey has shifted to ensuring that other children who experience grief feel less alone.
"I didn't see many role models on TV or movies or especially books," she said.
"I wanted to make sure that there was a story that really centered on grief."
Despite it being a difficult and often challenging topic, she says when people share their stories, they make others feel less isolated.
"There are still people who struggle with us talking about suicide and the people that it leaves behind," she said.
"As a society we've improved in that way that people do talk about this a lot more.
"There is still an incredible stigma there but the more you talk about it, the less people feel like they're on their own.
Writing a book for children about grief has been part of her healing process.
Sage and the Journey of Grief isn't written about suicide.
Rather, the character's mother died from cancer, in a bid to make the book more accessible to a wider audience.
And while it was written for children, others have found the book to have helped their inner child, especially if they had grief they hadn't worked through in the past.
"There's an audience I didn't necessarily cater for," she said.
A catalyst for change
Liv hopes her journey will help drive change around how people talk about grief.
"I'd like to see the conversations that people have around grief and suicide in particular and allowing yourself the grace to grieve in ways that work for you.
"We all process differently and time is relative."
For Liv, it's been about finding the right supports and resources to discuss the journey.
"For myself, I've joined the group Motherless Daughters Australia. It's nice to have it there when my mum's anniversary is coming up.
"I think particularly when it's around suicide, those support groups are really important to join or giving yourself that time to talk about it too, in those spaces.
"I won't let the last few minutes of (my mum's) life define her."
If you, or someone you know, is thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis or distress, please seek help immediately by calling triple-zero .
Help is also available, but not limited to one of these services:
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
- QLife 1800 184 527
- 13YARN on 13 92 76