Founders Story - Paul Scully-Sloan
Paul was a giant of a man, not in stature but in the way he touched so many lives. It was this ability to recognize when people were struggling and to reach out and help them that will be his legacy.
Paul set up DWA on December 8th 2010 months after his beloved son T.J. passed away suddenly at home. Paul was deeply affected yet found that when he searched for help there was none available for dads. Initially he set up DWA as a family support group yet he and his new members soon realized that there was a need for a specific grieving outlet for dads. Paul recognized that men do grieve differently from other members of the family. It sounds quite sexist to write that but as I travel a similar path I am getting much more comfortable with it. Paul was a visionary. As he said to me once,
‘Men close down, they feel obligated to be strong because that is what society expects from them and that’s the pressure men put on themselves.’
As usual he was spot on. He was always spot on.
Paul brought together his inner circle, many of whom are still with DWA, together DWA grew rapidly into what it has become today. If he could have imagined back then that within ten years their little group would be helping 4000 people and being followed by over 10000, won countless awards and become one of the prominent voices in the child loss community he would have laughed that infectious laugh and then called me a ****. That was his way and we loved him for it.
In his private life Paul was ill and had to have a liver transplant yet from his hospital bed he worked tirelessly to support grieving families, his commitment unwavering, he became at that time the most recognizable male voice in the normally ignored sector of child loss. He would bully for answers when society didn’t want to talk about it. He would knock on doors that didn’t want to open and he did this not for financial gain but because he cared for all of us following him on the hardest grief journey there is.
That is Paul Scully-Sloan to a tee….. He cared!!!
In 2018 Paul fell ill once more with a diagnosis of two rare cancers yet for the most part he kept a lot of it to himself. He surrounded himself with his absolute pride and joy, his family, and he just carried on. When I went to see him on his final night in February 2019 he was still giving instructions and telling me what needed to be done, where he wanted DWA to go and what he was going to do when he got better. The body was failing him but his amazing spirit and love never faded.
I was immensely honoured to help the other DWA admins carry Paul into the chapel the day we said goodbye and I delivered his eulogy with tears surrounded by his beautiful family and many of the people he had quite literally saved over the years and I finish this short and completely unworthy bio of such a great man with two words that I used on that day as the curtains were about to close…..