Home is where the heart is present – Te Okatai’s Story

20 October 2023

Te “Tai” Okatai’s grief and healing journey has not been easy as she continues to learn how to navigate the loss of her husband, best friend, and confidante, Musician Tom Lindsay.

'When I first met him… his words were, "I'm too scared to sing",’ Tai says.

‘So, I said to him I will write down the words and we can take it from there, baby steps.’

‘It took him two years and he got the confidence, that’s the only thing that keeps me going—listening to music and him singing. I grew up in his world.’

‘When I enter the gates, I go straight to my husband.’

Te Okatai

Tai is a frequent visitor of Bunurong Memorial Park, located in Dandenong South. As a local resident of the area Tai and her late husband were moved by the scenic gardens during their visit.

‘We saw all the gardens the roses and we talked about where are we going to end up if we pass away,’ Tai says.

‘He said to me, “Well this a beautiful place to rest” and I picked that special spot around the corner. It is a perfect place.’

To those at SMCT working behind the scenes at our events, Tai is a familiar face, with her beautiful flower crown and open connection to the stories taking place around her. She shares with us that the community events were a big part of helping her process her grief and pay tribute to her beloved Tom.

‘When he passed away, I was lost,’ Tai says. ‘I was blinded. I mean, losing a soulmate, it’s like your whole world is gone too.’

‘But these events helped. I came for the Father’s Day event and then I came to the Christmas tribute for our loved ones the same year. It was hard and in the following year it became more comfortable.’

Tai shares that she finds comfort and support in listening to others and their stories.

‘That’s why I keep coming, to make sure I can let go and move forward, I’m just figuring things out one day at a time.’

The knowledge that Bunurong Memorial Park is where her husband is located has also made these gardens a second home for her.

Tai says, ‘I spend hours here talking to him, it’s like he’s here. We always did things as a family —wherever we go, we go together. Home…it’s not home anymore, it’s not a happy home, this is where home is.’

With a new idea of 'home' comes a new chapter, and day by day, Tai is regaining her independence. She got her driver's license in her 50s and a new job. Grief is not easy, but Tai is taking steps forward the best way she can.

SMCT events are hosted throughout the year for our community to come together and pay tribute to their loved ones. If you are interested in attending one of our remembrance services or participating in community activities as part of our Care and Wellbeing Program, please visit events

If you need support, we are here to help. We encourage you to visit smct.org.au/help for a list of bereavement counselling and support organisations or to take a look at the resources offered through our CCW.

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