A cuppa for change: Mackay family channels grief into thriving business
A SIMPLE cup of coffee is a morning routine for many of us, but for Mackay’s Sonya Oliver Scoble, it has provided a powerful form of healing after a family tragedy.
Last year Mrs Oliver Scoble was working in the resource sector, along with her husband, when their lives were changed forever by their 20-year-old son’s suicide.
Aiden was a typical 20-something — he was studying IT at university and had a casual job as a kitchen hand.
Mrs Oliver Scoble said although Aiden had struggled with anxiety, she missed many signs that he was contemplating taking his own life.
Some of those signs were out of character behaviour and risk-taking.
“There was a whole lot of things going on in his life as he was trying to make that transition from school to adulthood,” she said.
“Aiden was doing a lot of out of character things like picking up a hitchhiker … there was a number of bizarre things that he would never usually do.
“He was pushing the limits a little bit because he was not in a good space.”
Overcome with the grief of losing her son, Mrs Oliver Scoble was unable to return to work after his death.
“I couldn’t go back to what I was doing before, the change in our life was so significant,” she said.
“I think I spent the first three months crying.”
Then one day, Mrs Oliver Scoble and her husband sat down to discuss how they could cope with the tragedy.
“I said to my husband, ‘I would really like to do something where I can connect with other people every day and I would like to let people know there’s somewhere they can go where they can just talk about whatever is on their mind … I can be a person they can connect with’,” she said.
It has been almost a year since the Scoble family started their MAD Cow Coffee business, which serves as a legacy for Aiden and a support network for anyone struggling.
MAD Cow Coffee has since donated more than 1200 coffees to people in need.
MAD stands for mixed anxiety and depression — the diagnosis their son received before he died.
Mrs Oliver Scoble said besides Aiden’s love of the taste of coffee, sitting down with a cuppa was one of the few times when their son would open up and talk about his struggles.
“The business has been an important part of our healing in being able to talk about it,” Mrs Oliver Scoble said.
“Talking about suicide is very awkward for people … when you raise that word, people do not want to make eye contact.
“We think it’s one of those things that needs to be talked about in general conversations to reduce the stigma that is associated with it.”
WHAT ‘R U OK?’ MEANS FOR THE SCOBLE FAMILY
R U OK? Day is a national day of action dedicated to reminding others of the need to support those who are struggling.
Mrs Oliver Scoble was a guest speaker at Thursday’s Resource Industry Network R U OK? breakfast, where she spoke about the importance of this year’s theme for the day: Trust the signs, trust your gut and ask R U OK?
As there were many signs her family missed with Aiden, Mrs Oliver Scoble said she wanted to share her story to make others aware and to promote the support services available.
“What we have learnt is if you ask someone ‘are you OK?’ and they say ‘yeah, I’m fine’, and your gut is telling you they are not fine, well they’re not,” she said.
Mrs Oliver Scoble said it was important to spread the message of R U OK? Day throughout the year.
“It needs to be an everyday thing — we need to actually take the time to listen and really connect, not just have a catchphrase,” she said.
For help, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.