'I spent four months crying and screaming and asking myself why'

Chef Matt Golinski on the horrific accident that claimed his family

August 07 2018

It’s almost seven years since a house fire took the lives of Matt Golinski’s wife and young daughters. But after much pain and soul-searching, the chef has started to rebuild his life again.

For years after the fire, his friends and family wondered if he would survive the tragedy. The fire left him with horrific burns to more than 40 per cent of his body and he was kept in a coma for more than eight weeks.

The Queensland chef endured multiple skin grafts and operations, as well as physiotherapy. When he finally left hospital, he moved in with his father and faced a future without his wife Rachael and their three daughters, Sage, Willow and Starlia.

"I probably spent four months crying and screaming and asking myself why and fighting it," Matt told ABC's Australian Story.

"It took some stupid, heavy drinking and all that sort of stupid stuff that you do where you just want to destroy yourself.

“But in the end, there's no explanation for it … the only thing you can do is just accept sometimes that's how life goes and there's absolutely nothing you can do to change it."

In the end, he found solace in running, an activity he had always enjoyed, and decided he was going to do a 5km run within a month of leaving hospital.

Matt didn’t stop there, continuing to take on more challenges and eventually completing a full marathon in 2015.

Matt Golinski and his baby daughter Aluna

Matt Golinski and his baby daughter Aluna

He also started a friendship with Erin Yarwood, a member of the rehabilitation staff at Eden Rehab in Cooroy.

Their friendship blossomed into love, with Matt proposing in 2016. Then last year, in August 2017, Erin gave birth to the couple’s first child, Aluna.

"She was due to be born during a full moon. It didn't work out that way but we'd already decided she was a moon child. She just lights up my world, it's amazing," Matt says.

Matt got tattoos on his ankle as a tribute to his older daughters.

“I'll miss my girls forever, but there's nothing I can do about that, so all I can do is accept it,” he says.