Family of Tiernan Green turn their grief into a campaign to help others
It's been two years since young Tiernan Green tragically died, aged just 20-years-old, after taking an asthma attack.
It’s been two years of deep and intense grief for his parents and siblings who have struggled in their own way to cope with losing such a much loved son and brother.
Tiernan died on January 31, 2017 in the arms of his mum Donna and dad Stephen as he struggled for breath during an asthma attack at their Derrymacash home.
Tiernan was a fit young man, a Gaelic footballer who had a great number of friends and an active social life.
Though he had asthma from birth, Tiernan didn’t appear to suffer any attacks until he was aged 18. While he used the blue Ventolin inhaler, he never used the brown one, which is a steroid, according to his dad Stephen.
When Tiernan came to his mum and dad’s room for help that morning, they tried everything to help him but he was gone within 20 minutes.
His tragic passing plunged Lurgan into shock and grief as many of his friends and school mates struggled to come to terms with the death of such a young and energetic man.
However, his parents and brother and sister felt the unimaginable pain of his loss most deeply.
Mum Donna admits to struggling to deal with the loss of her 6’4” handsome young son.
Donna said: “As the second anniversary approaches of the death of my darling son Tiernan, it really just seems like yesterday.
“No mother or father should have to lay their child to rest. It should be the other way about.
“Over these two years I have seen my family change and, when I say this, I mean we all have changed as people. I can honestly say our lives will never be the same again!
“It’s weird how grief works on the mind. One day I might be ok or maybe for a few days. Then, all of a sudden, you might see something or hear something that makes you think you your beloved son.
“This might be you for a few days, feeling so low that all you can think about is him and how you lost that person and how he died.
“ I lie most nights thinking about what happened that morning, I would find myself having to sit back up again as I get quite anxious and then I am the one left trying to control my own breathing.
“I went myself for counselling once but found that it wasn’t for me. My husband attends a meeting called Anam Cara and he finds it helps!
“I find with me doing all my own asthma awareness and speaking out at different events - this, for me, is my therapy this is what helps me - a mother who has lost her child.
“We, as a family, lean off each other through the grief.
“When I see my daughter is having a bad day I will speak to her and say THIS is ok. You are allowed to cry. You are allowed to have your quiet days when you don’t talk that much.
“I know this is grief because I see it myself. I am the one who witnesses it. I am here for my family and they are here for me so we are all in this together.
“I will still continue to raise as much awareness as possible and try and save as many lives as I can. I don’t want any other family to go through what we have.
“As long as I am living my son’s name will always live on through others,” said Donna.
The family has raised around £50,000 for various charities since Tiernan passed away.
The first year the family raised funds for Craigavon area hospital buying a special machine for respiratory help costing more than £7k.
They also raised cash to renovate the Family Room at the hospital with Tiernan’s plaque and new furniture and a TV.
Last year they raised money for Anam Cara - a counselling service for families suffering from grief.
Stephen attends Anam Cara regularly and it has helped him deal with the intense grief he felt at the loss of his son.
Indeed he has become so close to the group that the organisation has asked him to become a spokesperson for them.
Donna has dealt with her grief by raising the profile of asthma and campaigning for greater awareness on how to treat the illness so other families don’t have to go through a similar dreadful tragedy.
“I have been getting messages from people across the country, thanking me for helping to save their son’s life or even thank you for saving my own life. It’s unreal.
“It has brought me great comfort knowing that I have helped,” she said.
The family also have organised a truck run over the past two years and are planning another this May. It has raised thousands of pounds.
However, on this second anniversary, the Green family will remain close to each other, helping each other deal with the loss of such a beloved son and brother.
If you would like more support and information on Asthma, please check out the website www.asthma.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/government/northern-ireland/
If you need help with grief you can contact Anam Cara via their website www.anamcara.ie