It has been a rough week for me, along with many of my fellow Australians. Last week a young man in the prime of his life was killed on a cricket field in a freak accident, when he was struck by a ball and suffered a catastrophic brain haemorrhage. The nation watched and waited and prayed while he lay in hospital and on Thursday we heard the news we had feared the most. His life support was turned off and he died, a few days short of his 26th birthday.

His name was Phillip Hughes. I never met him but I have followed his career with interest since he burst on the scene as a huge cricketing talent at 18 years of age. My emotional response to his death has been profound and unexpected. Of course it is immensely sad, he was so young, on the brink of achieving all his dreams, and died doing something that is not supposed to be dangerous. But I am not alone in my grief, by any means. Phillip’s death has been keenly felt all over the nation, and across the globe. The Queen of England sent a personal message. Elton John dedicated a song to Phillip during a concert in Berlin. Sporting teams of all codes have paid emotional tributes before their games. His team-mates have been inconsolable. Flags are flying at half mast all over Australia, and his funeral was televised nationwide and streamed online all over the world. The only thing I can compare it to in scale was the overwhelming reaction to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Perhaps this quote sums it up well (from an online comment) “Worldwide grief for the good guy, the ordinary person (like the one in the mirror) – doing his best and enjoying sport and a family we want to spend some time with, enjoy their natural warmth and good country values.”

One of the most simple yet moving tributes has been a campaign known as “Put out your bats”. A fan posted a photo of a small memorial he had set up in his home, a simple cricket bat to remember Phil. He encouraged others to follow suit with the hashtag #putoutyourbat and it has taken off like wildfire. All over the country and the world people have put their bats out, and shared photos of their personal memorials. The Prime Minister put out his bat at the official residence. Hugh Jackman put out his bat before his Broadway show. Even Google put out a bat on the Google Australia home page.


When we lose someone we care about, one of the first things we do is dig out the photo albums. As a public figure there are many photos of Phillip, with his trademark cheeky grin. Social media is full of photos, posted by friends, team-mates, journalists and fans. Photos trigger happy memories and bring a smile to our faces through the tears. As a scrapbooker, whether it is photos of the time you met Phil Hughes or watched him play, professional photos of his cricket career, or Instagram shots of your #putoutyourbat, the emphasis on photos is a humbling reminder of the importance of what we do. Preserving photos, telling the stories behind the photos, and making sure they don’t get lost in cyberspace is a labour of love, and possibly something we often don’t value highly enough.

A journalist summed up how many of us have felt this week – he used the phrase “ambushed by tears”, which is exactly how it is. The tears well up at the slightest provocation, sometimes when you least expect them. The level of grief personally and nationally is surprising, and on a scale I have never witnessed before. People die every day, often in tragic circumstances, but the outpouring of genuine emotion over Phillip Hughes’ death is hard to explain. One of life’s only absolute certainties is the inevitability of death, and yet it continually catches us by surprise. We live in expectation that we will have more time, that tomorrow will come, and tragedies like this are a stark reminder of not just the reality of death but the unpredictability of its timing.

So hug your families, cherish your loved ones, make that phone call you have been putting off, let go of anger and resentment, live your life. And do something with your photos!!


This page displays photos taken by my son Rob when he met Phil Hughes and his mother Virginia early in his career.

Page details:

  • Blueprint Feribot #p2PFeribotBP
  • Cottage Arts Basketball Page Pak
  • Cottage Arts Natures Sketchbook Backyard Beauty Page Pak
  • Cottage Arts Garden of Life Letting Go Art Journal Pak
  • Fonts: Alpine Script, KG Let Her Go


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19 Responses to Blog: Ambushed by Tears

  1. What a beautiful tribute to someone so young. Your page is beautiful, Shelley. This is a reminder that life is short and that it is important to do something with our photos! Our photos are the past, the present, and the future. They tell our story, no matter how long or how short it is and they comfort us in times of heartache. We must never forget that.

  2. Anita Albritton says:

    It is remarkable how affected we are by the lives (and the loss of lives) of certain people we’ve never met. I felt that grief when Princess Diana died, as most of the world did. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings about this in your blog, Shelley. Your words are warm, loving and heartfelt. <3

  3. Sandy says:

    I don’t have to understand the game of cricket to know the impact this young man had on you, your country and the rest of the world. This page is an amazing tribute to him. His spirit will live on forever. It is through pages like these that bring us all together.

  4. Liz Propst says:

    Shelley….thanks for your sharing. I was clueless about this. A lovely reminder that at this holiday time of year that it is so important to remember the sadness that many are experiencing. Thanks for your this blog post. I am on the lookout now for ways to be more sensitive to those around me.

  5. pamela smith says:

    Shelley, your words and page were so powerful. Simply moving.

  6. kerr695 kerr695 says:

    I to have been ambushed by tears reading your beautiful tribute celebrating the life of Phillip Hughes. An unfinished Life, full of promise for his sport, his fans world wide and his family and friends. 1988 was the year our youngest son died of his injuries as a result of a bizarre accident during a Cycling Criterium Event. Jamie had his sights on the Tour de France, trained in all weather, dedicated to his chosen sport. The support our family received from our family, friends, a grieving high school, community and cycling world was humbling, He will remain forever young in our hearts. This year for the first time I made a tribute page and posted it to my FB page. The outpouring of love for the memory of my son was overwhelming. I am now ready to tell his story. We have learned each day life is a precious gift with the ones we hold dear. Thank you Shelley for this heartfelt tribute.

    • Shelley says:

      Oh, I am so sorry for your loss – and for bringing up painful memories for you. You are so right – each day is a precious gift and we need to always remember that!

  7. Linda DeLaughter says:

    Even though you had never met Phillip, your sentiments come from the deepest part of your heart as a mother. We all have felt this love through your words. With deepest sympathies to his family and to all in the Land of Oz . . .

  8. adakallen adakallen says:

    WOW! Thanks for this blog post!
    Since I am not an Australian and since I know nothing about Cricket I have sort of been in the dark about this situation. I am so glad you created this blog…I feel much better informed. Your blog and your scrapbook page are a tremendous tribute.
    We are always sad when we hear of an up-and-coming young person in any profession whose life is snuffed out so quickly. While we can never understand “WHY” we can only hope that they were Believers and that they are living a better life with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

  9. Asmaan says:

    Your blogs are as beautiful as your pages Shelley!

  10. Alison says:

    A beautiful tribute Shelley, and a great reminder of the importance of photos (and their stories) in our lives.

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