In Memory of Damion Bell

Grietje Bossinga
My youngest son Damion was lost at sea on 6 June 1992 when the scallop trawler he was working on capsized in heavy seas in the middle of the night, 32 km off the coast of Western Australia in Shark Bay. He was 19 years old. His body was never recovered.

For the first year following his death I found that the hardest thing was not knowing how he died. Did he die quickly or slowly? Did he drown or was he taken by a shark? How much did he suffer? Five people died that night, three were never found. I cried and cried each night, always imagining his fear in the cold black water, fighting to free himself to reach the surface, maybe being taken by a shark while he was still alive.

Since then the pain has lessened, the raw screaming agony has gone, but in its place for a long time was a deadness inside me, How could I laugh when Damion was gone? How could I enjoy the sunshine when the sun no longer shone for him? How could I work in the garden and enjoy its peace when the one who loved the garden most was no longer here?

But even the deadness inside has passed on. I find myself laughing at times, going to work and carrying on, because Damion had two brothers he loved, and how could I let them down? How would Damion feel if he saw me grieving year after year? And so I go on - and honor his death by doing so.

A week following his death my sister Jannie wrote a poem:


There was a young man
with eyes of sea green
had the cheekiest grin
that I've ever seen

Said, I'm goin fishin mum
make no mistake
out on the high seas
my fortune to make

Who was to know
his life it would take

He was nineteen years old
Young and bold
lived life to the full
no half measures for him
charming one and all
with that cheeky grin

Take care of yourself
don't do this, don't do that
they'd say as he
went out the door

Don't worry mum, I'll be okay
see you all after the haul

I'll pay you back
all the money I owe
there'll be money for me
there'll be money for all

A tough little blighter
determined and strong
stubborn and boastful
but most of all, a heart of gold

There's no other like him
and as we grow old
we'll think of smiling eyes
and lopsided grin
and a spirit that never gave in

Dear God - please
take care of him.

Grietje Bossinga [email protected]
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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW