What I know to be true

Frith fiercely loved me. He saw things in me that I had trouble seeing in myself, but he always showed his love to me and I always felt completely safe with him by my side. He was besotted with and adored his children like crazy. He taught them new things every day and just wanted to make them happy.

Frith cherished his family, and even though he sometimes gave his siblings a hard time, he had nothing but admiration for them. He was the best uncle to his nieces and nephew and a wonderful, cheeky son to his amazing parents.

Frith admired his colleagues and spoke of his mentors with such praise. He made friends easily, and held a select few close to his heart. Those select few have turned into a few more over that last 10 years.

Frith was such a unique person with so many different hobbies and interests. He could have conversations with anyone from anywhere, and they would immediately warm to him. It’s one of the many things that made him a great doctor, as well as just a great person.

Once you met Frith, you would always remember him; something about him. Maybe his dreads, maybe his smile, maybe his sharp dressing or shiny boots, maybe his ability to engage with your kid with a high-five and snap of the fingers.

I know he loved to live life. But I also know he often felt like there was more. He wanted more, but he didn’t know what it was or how to get it. It might surprise you to know that behind his charismatic flair, happiness often eluded him, and that would make him feel sad. He seemed to have it all, but his deep thinking mind often drove him into existential woe, especially after a big night.

I know many of you are wondering about the circumstances surrounding his death, and I don’t want it to be taboo. I don’t know all the details; no one does, and we never will.

What I know to be true is that Frith took his own life. Something got the better of him and in a moment of drunken madness, he made a decision.

It’s hard not to speculate about this and that. It’s hard not to ask the “why” and “how did this happen” questions. It’s hard for us not to wonder if we could have done something. Even though he was never diagnosed, I believe Frith suffered from some depression but I thought that since we talked so often and openly about everything, that was enough.

What I know to be true is that he loved with great passion. He genuinely cared for people and was always there for a beer and a chat. This is how we will remember him.

36 Comments

  1. I will never forget the day i had a appointment with the doctor at the Gladstone Hospital and i asked him about his dreads and could i feel them and how he shampoo his hair, to me he was a lovely person and doctor my heart goes out to his young family and wife God bless you all.
    My appointment was with my knees.

  2. Walking the corridors of the hospital, it feels horrible, empty and sickening knowing that one of us is missing. Like everybody else, I loved bumping into Frith – we would talk and he was the only person that would make me smile even if I felt like garbage. What a beautiful soul. Once I was seeing a consult in ED late at night (just wanting to get home) and I had to examine the nether regions of an autistic kid who wouldn’t let me examine him. I turned around and saw Frith typing at a computer – I was in luck! Frith could build rapport with anyone. He was on call for orthopaedics but agreed without questioning to help me out and of course he came out of the cubicle smiling and telling me his examination findings.

    I hope everyone shares your post, to acknowledge Frith’s amazing life and personality. My best friend took her own life 3 years ago and all I wanted was for everyone in the world to know she lived on this Earth with us and how amazing she was. The fact that people avoided talking about it just made it worse – as if she never existed or wasn’t important enough. It can be uncomfortable to think and talk about mental health, especially suicide, but open discussion is the only way that people will start to feel comfortable speaking up when they are struggling. I wish the best for your family and I am so comforted by the fact that so many people have reached out to help you.

  3. Renae,
    I will never forget Frith’s genial conversations at Newman dinners, his good nature and his ability to put people at ease. You and the children are in my thoughts and prayers at this very sad time.

  4. Renae – you and I are strangers and yet I cry for you.
    In recovery, Frith said to this worried mother “Surgical scars are a sign of a life well-lived.” (I have recounted Friths words to family and friends since that day in early December.) Master 18 (also known as Trouble) then told me he remembered Frith as the doctor who escorted him through the hospital for the P.A.R.T.Y Program. “He’s cool,” he said. Your husband left his mark on an untouchable lad. I thank you for that.

    I went with him to OOPD on Wednesday morning for another post-op. There were crying staff everywhere. Stunned and silent.

    In two weeks, when the pins come out that Frith put in, I dare say my lad will be asking to keep them. Likely as a reminder that his life was touched by an angel.

    I feel guilt that your husband who cared for my accident-prone child – more than once – won’t be around to care for his own children. I feel ill at the thought that we gained but you have lost. Call on me – and those offering you support – it’s the very, very least we can do in return. xx

  5. Dear Renae,
    On behalf of Rockhampton ED doctors, nurses, physios, wardies and admin staff (many who have already posted) we want you to know that we all loved and respected Frith deeply. He was the doctor we all wanted to see to brighten our shift. He engaged so well with patients and reduced their pain just through his kind reassuring tone. We send our sincere condolences.

  6. Renae,
    I’m sending you so much strength at this time. I worked with Frith, he was my favourite OOPD surgeon (sorry to any others that may be reading this reply!) but there really was something about him which made anywhere he went buzz a wee bit more. His character was infectious.
    I became a widow at 30 (now 33) and although the circumstance is different, trust that you have the strength to get through anything!

    If I can offer you any advice, make sure you take time for YOU and don’t feel guilty for it XXX

    1. Dont know you but found this on FB. My husband did the same 4yrs ago, a great shock to his huge circle of friends and family. Very talented successful but suffered depressive episodes when irrational thoughts took over. The anguish is too much and their escape is suicide. Loved ones are left grieving and wondering. Ive read a lot about this now. So please accept my condolences and i hope you find some comfort from this.

  7. Hi Renae,
    It has been a long time since we have touched base (Kelvin Grove HS) but I was sad to hear of the loss of your clearly talented and loving husband. As someone who work in the field of Mental Health and Suicide prevention, every time I hear about people who are so terribly clever with so much to live for taking their own lives it makes me wonder if there really is anything at all that we can do when someone decides the world is no longer for them. You are strong and brave and your children will grow up knowing just how much their dad loved them.
    Love to you all.
    Andrea Gledhill (Nee: Morgan)

  8. My condolences to you and the family and thank you Renae for sharing such an honest and beautiful piece. I met Frith whilst I was working at the Rockhampton Hospital in 2016. He was an amazing doctor and person with such a charisma. People around him had always felt warmed by his presence.

    May you and the family find strength through these challenging periods ~

  9. Dearest Renae
    I cannot even begin to imagine how you are feeling or where you managed to get so much strength from at such a tragic time.
    I do know this… He was and will remain always one if the most gorgeous souls that walked this earth.
    My heartfelt condolences to you and all your family.
    May you rest in peace my old friend

  10. It is lovely to see that Frith was so well loved, and boy did we all love and respect him. He was the happy, caring, funny, helpful all-round great guy. The guy who helped you with everything. The guy who took great care of his patients and colleagues. The guy who would introduce himself to his patient with a warm handshake and a smile, but when asked about himself would launch into the names and ages of his kids, and which one was doing what and how proud he was. The guy who made friends with the doctors, nurses, cleaners, admin, physios, wardies, Ambos, every person there. It’s great to know that this is how he will be remembered.
    Everyone in the Rockhampton Emergency Department, including his many patients and colleagues, will feel the loss of Frith forever. But we will also take with us the great memories of this great person also.
    Much love to Renae, those beautiful kids and Frith’s family.

  11. Renae, so beautifully written. We were so sad to learn if this last night. Frith certainly made a lasting impression on everyone he met. We were so glad to meet you in Ingham even though it was such a short time. We were so pleased we were able to meet again in December on your way through Townsville. Thank you for your honesty at such a terrible time.
    Love Steve and Chrissy.

  12. I only found out about Frith from reading your blog someone just shared. I am saddened by your loss of Frith and also the pain he must have felt. Beautiful sentiments. I send love and best wishes to you and your lovely family

  13. I used to work in Rocky, and had a few encounters with Frith. Despite his unorthodox hairstyle, he was one of the most kind, courteous, and cheerful ortho reg ive ever seen. I totally enjoyed working with him and missed him dearly.

    Also, our jobs are by no means easy at all. I have experienced my share of distressing experiences at work. At one point I have considered suicide as a viable option. I am lucky that i am saved from doing the unthinkable, but unfortunately not so for Frith. Thank you for sharing your experience, and hope it gives strength to those going through tough times.

    Prayers to your family and colleagues in Rocky.

  14. Dear Renae
    What a wonderful message . I have met him while he was visiting South Africa in Graaff-Reinet. He had such a beautiful sprit, and full of laughter. . Good luck, for the road a head. Please send love to his Mother

    Will keep you in our prayers
    Nadia Burger (Strydom)

  15. Renae,
    I have never met you but I still remember the first day Frith pulled up on his push bike with his dreadlocks hanging out of his helmet at 5:30am at crossfit, and I thought Geez Whiz this bloke is fit riding his bike here and about to do a workout, does he know what he is in for??? But he was fit and an amazing athlete and you are right there was something about Frith you will always remember, I will always remember his crazy out there shorts he would wear to crossfit and his long strided run as he passed me in every single workout telling me good job keep going !!!…… I remember having a couple of chats with him about your last baby coming along and he was just a super proud husband and dad…. I can’t imagine the pain you and your beautiful family are going through my heart aches for you all and I can say on behalf of Crossfit CQ he will be dearly missed indeed he inspired each and everyone of us…. xoxo

  16. Dear Renae,

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your kids. Stay strong ! I am going to leave Ausi soon but the good memories of Frith will be with me every second here after…!
    Frith was such a beautiful soul who was a ” true friend in need – a friend indeed” . I have got no wards to describe his qualities as a true gentleman and soul mate who shared our good as well as bad times equally.
    May the triple gem bless you all!

  17. I am writing this from the perspective of someone who valiantly tried, and failed to take my own life. The decision was an acutely painful one, but surviving has proven even more tormenting. I feel sure that Frith would not have wanted to cause the inevitable pain and sorrow so many are feeling; but rather, he wanted an end to the unbearable internal turmoil he was suffering. To take one’s own life is not a cowardly act. It’s the consequence of irrational thought from a troubled mind! It takes courage and strength beyond the comprehension of most people. Your decision to publicly pen such an honest and truthful piece explaining Frith’s crossing of the rainbow bridge shows what a sincere and beautiful soul you are Renae. As well as giving those of us who may not have known Frith for a very long time an insight into the wonderful man he was, I sincerely hope with whole-heartedness that your post will reach a broader audience and go some way towards continuing the mental health conversation. The stigma surrounding mental illness still grips our society, but one-by-one, acts such as yours will help to break this down and allow those who are afflicted by depression to put up their hands without shame. And you are absolutely entitled to hold onto those memories you have of Frith because his exit in no way diminishes the husband/father/son/friend/colleague/man that he obviously was. RIP Frith. ❤️

    1. Ditto. Another person commented above about brilliant people deciding “the world is no longer for them”. My reflections don’t find this at all a likely factor. That thought would come into a selfish mind. My reflections find quite the opposite. It is most tempting when the brilliant mind concludes strangely but truthfully that the overall outcomes for everyone will be better if they pass away now. In this moment alcohol is a precarious counsellor but not the critical ingredient. This is the terrible horror that lurks inside the person capable of ultimate sacrificial selflessness. I know there are other motivations, but this is an important one that seems to be unmentioned and certainly it is noble (but a mistake), not selfish.

  18. Dear Renae,
    I’m so sorry to hear this. Frith and you were always kind to me when I joined Newman back in 2009, and I look back on those days with fondness. I’ll keep all of you in prayer for what it’s worth and, like so many of the comments said above, express my deep admiration for such a strong, brave and authentic post. Thank you for being so open with us. Please keep well. God bless always.

  19. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
    Frith was a good senior to me and I will always remember him for all the good and all the positive differences he made in peoples’ lives.

  20. Hi Renae,

    We have never met but I knew Frith from our early days together in medical school. I will remember him as an intelligent, peaceful and incredibly friendly man who certainly made my own social insecurities in early university much easier to deal with. I can’t imagine your grief at his passing. My deepest condolences to you and your family.

    Scott

  21. Thank you for writing this Renae. He was so loved at Rockhampton Base in theatre where there are so many aching hearts right now. This was cathartic to read, I’m so happy his home life was filled with love and joy. Wishing you and your beautiful Foottit family love, support and healing.

  22. I found your blog upon hearing of Frith’s death. I knew from the moment I scrolled through your posts that you would have some beautiful words for your husband, it seems I wasn’t wrong.

    I didn’t personally know Frith however I often saw him around the hospital. Never was his face free of a smile. He was always polite and certainly known for his dreads.

    He once said that abbreviating words is a lazy way to write, at which point I knew he was an absolute legend due to the fact my job is harder when people abbreviate. Many hearts around the hospital are broken and we share your grief.

  23. We are all in shock and heartbroken over this tragedy..

    Nothing we can say or do will help you and your beautiful children through this time.

    One day when time has dulled the pain I hope it is a comfort to know Frith will be missed and remembered fondly by everyone in Rockhampton hospital operating theatres. I especially will miss his snappy dressing and his sly comments about needing new hats so I’d make him more. He brightened everyone’s day just by being around and I wish he had known just how many lives he touched with his smile and his kindness.

    I will always remember him with a smile on his face wearing a waistcoat and sneaking a brownie…. Rest In Peace frith you were unique and the world is a little less bright without you in it…

  24. Dear Renae,

    What you have said of your wonderful husband was true to what I saw in him also. Life is not always easily for an analytical thinker as we can not describe or explain every thought that we process in our deeply thinking mind. Always striving for something more and wanting new challenges can be overwhelming if our desire to achieve that very thing is blocked. I noticed something troubling Frith in the last couple of weeks. His walk was different. Life can be troublesome for those of who are reaching out for more…to do something that we believe we were created for…and when it seems unachievable, a very analytical mind can become extremely depressed. Praying that you always remember the blessing of being so close to one of these very rare personality types. It’s a beautiful gift.

    Kind Regards
    Liz Quinn
    Rockhampton Emergency Dept

  25. Oh Renae. I am truly saddened to hear of your loss. Frith was really a lovely man. I still have fond memories of your labour and delivery of Julius…..I have looked through your photos and oh how he has grown…..
    I became quite envious of the relationship you guys shared. I could tell throughout your labour that both you and Frith shared something special. Something I couldn’t put my finger on but it was obviously amazing. He was so very kind to you as you were to him. Such a rarity through the final moments of labour.
    As a colleague to Frith I always found him respectful and kind to all staff and patients and family members. You just knew he loved his job. And our patients adored him. He was always referred to as the bone Dr with the dreadlocks, he was so kind and excellent at his work.
    My heart goes out to you, Frith and your children. You have been in my thoughts constantly. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your pain.

  26. Letitia just messaged me: “This is so beautiful. How did Renae write this? She is super strong.” And she is right on all counts. A lovely tribute, Renae and you are the most resilient person I know so you will always manage to come up with a smile on your face and you have a HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE number of people who love you and will always be willing to lend a helping hand and all you will have to do is look at any of those four beautiful children and you will see their father and you will be reminded of how much he loved you which was so obvious to everybody who attended your wedding and every day since!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Renae
    My heart is heavy as is all that knew and worked with Frith. Even though I don’t know you personally I think I can say on behalf of the Rocky ED we are here for you and your family in this tragic time. Frith was part of our ED family and we miss him immensely. All my love to you and your family
    Sonya

  28. Oh Renae
    Frith – truly an energy force for good. A star who burned so bright.
    Your post exemplifies the extraordinary truth, courage and beauty he so adored in you, Renae. I send my love and thoughts to you and your beautiful family.

  29. Dear Renae
    We were very very sad to hear the news and send our condolences to you and your family. Frith was an exceptional student who showed massive care and compassion to our patients, supported and befriended all our staff and was an integral part of not only our practice but the community as well. Rest In Peace Frith. From all the staff at Mount Beauty Medical Centre.

  30. We all at Mt Beauty Medicsl Centre feel devastated and can’t imagine your grief.
    We remember the vibrant and friendly Frith and his happy family ( at that time)
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you .

  31. That was greatly written. It took me just once meeting Frith to feel an impact on my life so it is easy to see that his presence was a blessing in your life. I believe that you will have a lasting greatness in your heart.

    Always remember what you loved in Frith and hold on proudly to what you have gained from having him in your life.
    Be brave and strong as you take the next steps of your life.

    My thoughts are with you and your family.

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