Living With Loss – A Personal Story From Olive Foley


July 1, 2020

Olive and Anthony Axel Foley living with loss

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Olive Foley is the wife of the late Munster Rugby player Anthony ‘Axel’ Foley and mum to two young boys. She lost her husband Anthony suddenly and with no warning. It has left a void that is hard to fill. Her family got support from The Children’s Grief Centre in Limerick and here Olive tells her story of living with loss.

Living With Loss – Olive Foley late wife of Munster Rugby player Anthony ‘Axel’ Foley

When We Experience Loss, We Experience Grief

“Many of you have experienced loss. Mine is no greater than any of yours. But losing Anthony with no notice; my husband, my confidant, my best friend but perhaps most of all the father of my children — it created a void that’s impossible to fill.

Having family around has helped to deal with the pain. I have a great family, my immediate family, Anthony’s family, my family of friends, my family of faith, and my family of church. All of these are essential for us.

I also had the support of the sporting community. In those darkest hours, the arms of that family wrapped their arms me and my family in a way that was remarkable and have done ever since”.

Knowing What To Do And What to Say

We also had support from the Children’s Grief Centre in Limerick. They give bereaved children the space to deal with their upset in a safe, open and confidential environment.

“We have been through extremely tough times. My sons are doing ok, largely thanks to the help of Helen Culhane. Helen, founder of Limerick’s Children Grief Centre, has helped to initiate conversation within the family about Anthony’s life and death.

As I was grieving myself it was a great help to hand the children over for that hour, knowing they will be listened to and cared for and their needs will be met.

I just needed to know what to do with the kids, what is right and what is wrong and the kids needed support themselves.

It was new to me and a real learning curve. I didn’t know how to deal with grieving children myself. The support I got as well as the boys has helped the children (and me) through”.

Let’s Talk About Dad – Keeping Anthony’s Memory Alive

“What I love about Helen and all the support team she has, is the way she deals with the children. They go in and they sit down one-on-one. Then we’re brought in for the last ten minutes, so inevitably they’ll have spoken about Dad or they’ll have told little stories and then Helen might say something like ‘tell Mam about that great story’.

The way in which Helen introduces parents to the conversations that she has privately had with the children has helped us as a family to talk about the subject. She’s able to unify and open up the conversation. So now I’m talking about Dad to the children instead of, ‘Let’s pretend this never happened, don’t mention Dad because everybody’s going to cry’.

Now I talk quite freely to the children about Dad. We were able to continue the conversation on the way home in the car and then next thing we’re talking about him morning, noon and night because he comes up in conversation constantly”.

What The Children’s Grief Centre Has Meant For Us And How It Can Help Others

The Children's Grief Centre Limerick

“Helen and her team have supported the kids and really seen them through a very difficult time. I have really seen first-hand the work she has done.

It is quite extraordinary to be able to give children a beautiful place where they can go to, and express themselves through talking, express emotions through art and all these different lovely mediums. She and her staff do incredible work.

Children who are bereaved from death, separation, divorce, they will often need somewhere they can go and be heard themselves.

What I have seen with my children is they go in to see Helen, they would sit down and talk about themselves mainly, do drawings and express emotions. They are stronger children as a result of that I do believe”.

If you need support following a loss through bereavement, separation or divorce please contact the Children’s Grief Centre. You can do this by visiting the website calling them on 061 224627 / (087)9851733 or Email:

Make a difference in the life of a grieving child by making a donation to the New Building Project. Any donation no matter how small will support their work with children, young people and their families. The service is free to access and provides a safe place for children aged 4 to 18 years who have experienced a loss through bereavement, separation or divorce.

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