Bindi Irwin reveals what helped her cope after loss of her dad

Bindi Irwin wants to make sure her daughter understands life and death from a young age because that was a "gift" her parents gave to her.

"Growing up and being 23, I can look back with gratitude that my parents did that for me; it really was a gift that they gave me," she said

Growing up at Australia Zoo "was an absolutely wonderful experience" for Irwin, but it meant she was confronted by death well before the tragic passing of her father.

The first such experience that she can remember was when a "little koala named Wilson" arrived after his mother was hit by a car, and Irwin worked with vets at the zoo's wildlife hospital to care for him.

Bindi Irwin and husband Chandler Powell with daughter Grace Warrior Irwin Powell. (Facebook: Bindi Irwin)

"I can remember very vividly my mum sat me down to talk to me and say, 'Unfortunately, Wilson didn't make it, but he will always be with you; you have to cherish the good times that you had with him'," Irwin said.

"That really shaped me for my life moving forward."

Irwin says her mother Terri is "so amazing with explaining everything" that the moment has stayed with her and helps shape the way she deals with death.

She was just two years old when her grandmother passed away. It's an event that affected Irwin, even if she doesn't remember it.

"It really sticks with you, even if you don't remember it; it is a part of you and it's a part of the fabric of your upbringing," Irwin said.

Sources of grief

Irwin opened up about her experiences on the podcast What About Death, hosted by Tsultrim, a Brisbane-based Buddhist nun in the Tibetan tradition, a initiative.

Irwin spoke of how the environmental impact of humans has also brought her "tremendous grief".

"We can no longer live in a world where we just continue to live our lives with no appreciation or respect for our other wildlife and wild places that we share our Earth with," she said.

Bindi Irwin wants future generations to be able to enjoy sharing Earth's wildlife and natural resources.(Supplied: Instagram)

She says she wants her daughter Grace — and any future children and grandchildren — to live in a world with "clean air and fresh drinking water, and an abundance of wildlife".

"I worry about the future, but I do find hope in the fact that there are some extraordinary people doing wonderful things working tirelessly to protect our planet," Irwin said.

Outpouring of love and support

Irwin's father, "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, died aged 44 in 2006 after his chest was pierced by a stingray's barb when his children Bindi and Bob were eight and two years old respectively.

"For us, losing Dad was probably the hardest thing we've ever gone through, and our grief walks beside us every day," Irwin said.

"When Dad passed away, we were overwhelmed by the amount of love and support that we received.

Bindi Irwin said their family coped with the enormous grief of losing Steve Irwin by continuing his environmentalist legacy. (Supplied)

"We had no idea how many lives Dad touched through his conservation work; I know for a fact that Dad had no idea.

"And it wasn't until he passed away that we were hit with this wave — this tsunami of love and kindness and people sharing their own stories and telling us about how that affected their lives."

During that time, the family felt comforted in the knowledge the environmentalist and TV icon had touched so many lives.

"That's why when he died, I said to Mum, 'I really want to thank everybody and I want to stand up and say something'," Irwin said.

"It felt really important to me and to our family that we were going to stand up and make sure that everything he lived and died for continued on into the future.

"I think that was our coping method."

Irwin thinks her Dad knew he didn't have a "long time on this Earth".

"As humans, we all say … 'live each day as if it's your last' and Dad actually did," she said.

"After any wonderful experience that he had, he would always say, 'Well, I feel complete, I can die now."

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Turning point

After her father died, amid the "terrifying" media frenzy and the shock, disbelief and grief, Irwin said she vividly remembers the moment she resolved to move forward.

"I remember thinking, this emotion is going to shape me; this is going to be a real turning point on how I continue on with the rest of my life and I want to be strong for my family," she said.

"One day — I wrote it in my journal, actually — I was like, 'this is it; I am choosing not to wallow in sadness anymore'.

"I am choosing to find the strength that Dad had and continue on."

Celebrating loved ones 

"Where there is great loss, you still have to find joy, that's what they would want for you as well," she said.

"Dad wouldn't want me to be sad every single day; he would want me to find joy in life and he would want me to find happiness in every day and that's what I've chosen to do."

"I choose to believe that Dad is with me every day and I find great comfort in that."


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