Victoria Milligan on tragedy, survival and human spirit

July 10, 2020. Series 1. Episode 6

Victoria Milligan’s life changed forever on May 5th 2013 when a boat trip in Cornwall with her husband Nicko and children, Amber, Olivia, Emily and Kit, then aged four ended in horror. Thrown into the water at high speed, their boat circled back on them, killing Nicko and Emily. Victoria lost her leg and Kit was seriously injured. “In a moment,” she says “I went from a perfect life to becoming a widow, a bereaved parent, a single parent and an amputee.” In this episode Victoria, who is now training to be grief therapist herself, explains how she coped with a multi-layered trauma, and ensured that she and her children not only survived but thrived carrying the memory of Nicko and Emily with them into a new life. A true testimony to the power of human spirit.

Victoria’s Crisis Cures:

1. Small achievable goals. Don’t plan too far ahead. That has massively helped me and still does every day.

2. Find your mantras. Mine is: “We are good enough”. I try and start every day by saying that to myself, however I feel. Don’t wake up and tell yourself you should have got more sleep, or I shouldn’t have drunk so much. And I start the day positively through exercise. That works for me.

3. Self-care is key. We are all natural care givers but we have to make sure we put enough time in for joy and happiness. If we’re not in a good place emotionally and physically we’re not in the right place to look after others. Being a little bit selfish is not a bad thing.

Links:

Victoria’s website: www.victoriamilligan.co.uk

Child Bereavement UK: https://www.childbereavementuk.org

Cornwall Air Ambulance: https://cornwallairambulancetrust.org

Julia Samuel: https://juliasamuel.co.uk

Episode Notes:

We’ve talked a lot already about self-pity in this podcast. But no-one would blame Victoria Milligan, even now seven years after the accident, if the first words she uttered were ‘Why me?’ But it was clear, in the first five minutes of our conversation, that they are not in her vocabulary. The total lack of self-pity was, for me, one of the defining features of this podcast. The strategies she deployed to make sense of the senseless, as she puts it, were another. Dealing with just one of Victoria’s tragedies would be devastating. Tackling them all is unimaginable. But it’s through recognising them all as separate individual challenges that have to be broken down and dealt with using different tools and emotions that has enabled Victoria to cope. Taking one day at a time, how being kind to yourself will allow you to take care of others and the fundamental importance of finding the right way to manage your pain. That there is no manual for grief. Victoria rejected therapy when it was first offered. “All I wanted was Nicko and Emily back and no therapist could do that, so what use would they be?” she says. But overtime she came to understand the enormous value of grief counselling to help her through the loss of her child and her husband and to come to terms with her injuries. That she now wants to put all that she has learned to positive use as a therapist and writer herself – to find a positive from her tragedy – speaks volumes. A heart-breaking story told by an inspirational woman.

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