The Year That Almost Broke Me
Marie Claire South Africa|August 2017

What happens when your LIFE is DEVASTATED by multiple losses including your BEST FRIEND followed by your life partner? How do you COPE, how do you START OVER? Giselle Rausch shares her brave and heartbreaking story with LYNETTE BOTHA

Lynette Botha
In October 2013 Giselle Rausch’s happy and fulfilled life was about to be turned upside down forever. Following news that her best friend, Sean, had had a stroke in Los Angeles, she got on a flight and flew to him immediately. ‘Sean was like my brother in every sense of the word,’ says Giselle. ‘He was my closest friend; to lose him was immense. He was my family.’

Although Sean was being kept alive by machines in the hospital in LA, Giselle knew deep down that he was gone. ‘I was overcome with grief, and I didn’t know how I was going to negotiate my life or this feeling.’

As a psychiatrist, Giselle was no stranger to sorrow and helping people through tough times, but that did not make her immune to what she was experiencing and the mind reeling trauma of what was still to come.

‘There are different manners of death – and there is of course no ideal way for anyone to die or pass – but losing someone to a sudden death always cuts deep. There is no time to prepare, no last goodbye, there is none of that,’ she says.

Not wanting to go, but knowing that she had to get back to Cape Town, Giselle left LA in a distraught state of shock and grief.

While on the 26-hour-plus journey back home from LA, the unthinkable happened to her life partner, Wayne, in Madagascar, where he was working on a building project.

‘I remember landing in Cape Town – it was my birthday – and being whisked directly from the arrivals hall to a psychiatrist’s office. I was sat down and told that my ‘husband’ had been murdered. That he was dead.’

‘I could not breathe, I could not think, I could not process what I was being told. Right there and then I had to somehow come to terms with the fact that I had lost what I considered to be my entire family unit – the two men in my life who represented my family, my whole support system – they were both gone.’

The trauma that Giselle experienced was immense; the level of love and loss was insurmountable. ‘I felt completely flattened; it was like ground zero. I felt like I was unhinging and I did not know how I was going to get through another minute, never mind the days and the weeks that lay ahead.

‘Wayne and I had a great relationship, he was my soul mate. We connected on so many levels and we loved each other deeply. Sean was both mine and Wayne’s best friend. The three of us were a tight little unit, with the strongest bond, and we were the most important people to each other in the world. Now that was gone. It was just me.’

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