Frank's Story

Age: 87

Location: Ellendale*

Referral Source: Livestock Agent

Frank*, a generational farmer, became a participant after his local livestock agent called worried about his well-being. Frank had started sleeping in his shed, lacking in hygiene and refused to enter the house with his wife.

When RAW staff member Julia first met Frank, he was adamant that everything was fine. He ate when he was hungry and he could look after himself. He didn’t need anything, but he did like a conversation.

Frank had become suicidal, and no longer had hope for the future.

Julia sat and listened, seeking to understand what had made him move to sleeping on his workbench.

Through conversation, Frank shared how he had recently lost his best friend, who sadly died of natural, age-related causes. It became apparent that whilst Frank was navigating the grief and loss journey, he had started to miscommunicate with his wife of 40 years. It had started to cause friction and constant fighting, so he had retreated for some ‘peace and quite’.

Frank and Harriet had known each other since a young age, but coming together later in life, and had since been married for 40 years.

As visits past, Julia came to see Frank one day, and his opening line was,

Frank explained that he had just finished crutching the 150 sheep by himself, which he kept on his now (much) smaller farm property. He said he had recently been to the doctor and they noted he needed to take it easier, due to his ongoing heart problems.

When Harriet and Julia crossed paths on a visit one day, Harriet expressed her concern for her husband. Being an ex-nurse, she recognised her husband wasn’t physically able to do things like he used to, and she was fearful that if he continued to resist slowing down or asking for help, he might push himself too far. Frank and Harriet once used to love travelling the world together, however, Frank now preferred to stay at home with the sheep and the farm, whilst she travelled by herself.
Julia began to help them individually understand that they were both navigating grief and loss just in different ways.

Grief from the loss of a loved one. Grief around entering the last life cycle of their time together. Redefining of identity and purpose which had been built around the farm. Accepting that they may no longer be able to do what they love to do to the same capacity.

Over time, Frank and Harriet found their rhythm again, understanding that life has different seasons and each one needs to be worked through and processed in its own way.

Message from Harriet:

“I ate humble pie and he has had his dinner. Also a bath , back scrub and hair washed. He‘s now in bed and had a look of triumph on his face. Even wanted to know what he could do to help me!!!!”

*names and locations have been changed for privacy reasons
Did you resonate with Frank's story?