On Saturday, 3rd of June 2017, our lives changed forever when our daughter, Sara Zelenak, aged 21, was killed in the London Bridge and Borough Street Markets terror attack.
When Sara left for the UK a few months earlier to take the “Aussie rite of passage” of living and working in the UK and travelling around Europe, we never thought it would be the last time that we saw her. Sara had a passion for life and was filled with excitement for her new adventures overseas. We were also excited about visiting her in Europe and had planned to meet her in Paris at the end of June to climb the Eiffel Tower, eat cheese and croissants, and drink French wines. Sadly this never happened.
It is hard to put into words how unbelievably traumatic, shocking, painful and unfair it has been losing Sara. As parents, we don’t think we will ever be able to come to terms with losing our child. We, along with our two sons and extended family, feel the pain of losing her every day – but we also continue to feel her love surrounding us and feel her guiding us in everything we do. Sara taught our family and our community about love: unconditional, unchanging, without barriers, forgiving, nurturing and supportive; a love that can lift others from defeat.
When seeking help and therapy to work through our loss, we discovered that everyone heals in different ways and that there is no one size fits all approach. However, we were unable to find an institution that provided a comprehensive range of therapies to treat grief in one place – this is how the idea of Sarz Sanctuary was born.
Everyone’s journey with traumatic grief is different – that’s why we want to open a sanctuary where we can share our experience, offer true understanding and dedicate ourselves to guiding others on their personal journeys to find peace in their own way.
Together we can make a difference to the many people suffering from traumatic grief, and continue to honour Sara in the best way we know how: through unconditional love.
After losing our daughter Sara in such a horrendous way, we want to dedicate our lives to helping and supporting others who may have been through similar experiences of losing loved ones in sudden or violent circumstances.
We hope that in the future this can extend to a network of healing sanctuaries around Australia, the UK and then the world to help as many people as possible.
At Sarz Sanctuary, our approach is centred around the following core values:
Julie Wallace: Sara’s Mother, Co-founder, Company Secretary and Trustee
Julie has experienced first-hand how a holistic approach to exercise, mindfulness, alternative therapies and community support can be transformative in dealing with traumatic grief.
Julie has decided to dedicate the rest of her life to helping those who have experienced similar loss to overcome their grief through a focus on mind, body and spirit. As a personal trainer, she has helped women and men of all ages achieve their goals through a holistic approach to training, including motivational guidance. As traumatic grief impacts people both emotionally and physically, Julie sees exercise as one of the forms of healing she hopes will help beneficiaries when visiting Sarz Sanztuary.
Mark Wallace: Sara’s Father (since Sara was 1 years old), Co-founder and Trustee
Since Sara’s death in June 2017, Mark has been conscious of the differences in how his family grieve and the resources that exist to help them on their healing journey. He is passionate about helping people find the therapy that’s right for them, be it through traditional or non-traditional means.
As a builder and project manager, he has spent many hours on sites envisioning the design for Sarz Sanctuary. The Sanctuary will be built to honour his daughter and provide a peaceful place where those experiencing traumatic grief can feel at ease, and begin healing from traumatic grief in their own way and on their own terms.