Our Beloved Natalie

Natalie was born on a cool and foggy Melbourne morning in June 1984. Little did we know that Natalie was to live such a short life on this earth. However there were a few clues early on. Natalie did not wait for the doctor to arrive. She decided the time was right and that was that. Many years later this natural free spirit and impatience was to cause many problems.

When Natalie was a toddler, she would indicate that she had finished with her meal by up ending the bowl on her head. When Natalie was finished she was finished. As Natalie grew I made an observation which haunts me to this day. I said to Gail that one day Natalie would break our hearts. There was something different about Natalie, nothing that any of us could put their finger on but there was something. Now back in those days I was in the RAAF. We moved from Melbourne to Sydney and when I decided to leave the RAAF we moved back to Adelaide for my discharge and we lived there for a few months afterwards. It was in this time that Natalie got her cute face on TV for the first and last time. We were flooded in Mount Barker and the Channel 9 crew filmed Gail putting Natalie into the car for the evacuation.

After Mount Barker we moved to Alice Springs and believe it or not, were flooded again. This time we were isolated. Natalie enjoyed the Alice. Plenty of red dust to play in. After the Alice we moved to Darwin and again Natalie seemed to enjoy doing things like eating the tails of green ants. After Darwin we moved to Switzerland and our lives changed forever. I remember my late father’s last words to me before we left. "Look after my grandchildren". I feel we let you down dad. You can certainly chat with Natalie about it and let us know when we see you both again.

Switzerland and the way of life was a major change for Natalie as it was for all the family. We were all thrown in at the deep end. New language, new traditions, new food and the list went on. Natalie threw herself into learning German. For some reason she refused to speak the local Swiss dialect which was spoken by all her classmates. This lasted a couple of years and then suddenly changed and Natalie started speaking like a local. After German and Swiss German, Natalie threw herself into learning French and even tried her hand at Latin. Natalie abandoned Latin to go and re-learn English. The first years were tough but happy. Natalie made friends easily, was doing well at school and was growing up into a beautiful young lady. One thing that Natalie learned quickly was to play cards. She already had a love of the game of UNO which she would always throw herself into, especially with her granddad Streather. The Swiss had new games for Natalie to learn and this she did. Upon reflection the only time that Natalie seemed truly happy was when she was kicking our butts playing cards. She was very good.

From very early on, Natalie had a love of animals, big and small. Her desire was to become a vet. Natalie and her pets which at one time included rats and snake handling, were a constant and ever changing issue in the Streather household. The basement still contains the remnants of these days. Natalie was always troubled when one of her pets passed away but she kept on loving them. Horses were another love and whilst money or lack of it, played a role to some degree, we encouraged Natalie as much as we could, including ensuring she was fully equipped to go riding which she did every chance she got.

Natalie also joined a local youth group run by the Free Evangelical Protestant Church of Walzenhausen. This again was encouraged and her involvement with the people of this group and their activities were never questioned. Natalie did believe in God as we have found out in recent weeks. In Natalie's’ diaries we have read many questions, all asked of God. The majority of her question entries were directly asked of God. We will never know about the answers she received.

In order to reach her goal of becoming a vet, Natalie had to go to Kantonal school. I was not happy with this decision, I felt Natalie should have waited another year. However as already stated, Natalie was impatient and roaring to go. So Natalie sat the exams, passed with flying colours and was off. This appears to be a major turning point in Natalie’s short life. Something went wrong. I wish I could say more about the next two years but there is no point. Evil had played it’s hand and the war between good and evil had begun. A war we were to lose as parents and as a family. The reason we are all here today listening to these words. The toughest words I have ever written.

Natalie was a drug addict. She could only find peace from this addiction in death. Natalie died in a tragic accident. Natalie did not commit suicide, she died as a result of the idiotic actions of another. Instead of calling the ambulance when he noticed Natalie in great distress, he gave her methadone, then called the Police. By the time they arrived, Natalie had passed away. Both Gail and I knew this was going to happen one way or another yet we were helpless to stop it. Please, everyone understand we fought a tough and bitter fight but it was not enough. We were just not powerful enough to fight the drugs, the addiction, the system. Nobody believed us. Nobody would accept that we knew Natalie and I knew her intentions.

We are not ashamed in anyway of our beloved daughter Natalie. We are proud of the fight she put up, she was just not strong enough to beat the addiction. Natalie did her best.

Much is written and spoken of the dangers of drugs. Drugs are the tool of evil. What is evil. Evil is the lack of empathy. The lack of feeling from one human being to another. Drugs are part of business. This business like many others has no feeling, has no empathy. It survives by destruction. It makes some evil people rich. Drugs and the peddlers make the rest of the world poorer. It robs the world of the young and the talented. It robs the next generation of some of its brightest lights.

Natalie was a talented artist. This has been lost to the whole world. We have most of Natalie’s finished works and we will treasure them forever.

None of us will ever see any sense in the tragic loss of Natalie from our lives. We know that in this church are others who share with us the unbelievable grief and pain from the loss of a child. We feel a special bond with these families. We speak to each other without speaking. We share the same loss, regardless of the reason.

Maybe Natalie already knows but her death has had a wide affect around the world. Condolences and great acts of kindness have poured in from around the world. Natalie knew her dad was involved via his hobby and his book writing with tens of thousands of people around the world. Natalie did enjoy the benefits from some of this. From the USA to the UK, from South Africa to Australia, people are grieving for you today sweetheart.

One of these colleagues sent me these words. He read them out at the funeral of his eight year old daughter Sarah last year.

Life is a race to meet God. Natalie came first. The rest of us are still racing.

Goodbye sweetheart Natalie. Look after your granddad and the rest of our families who are with you. Till we meet again. You remain in our hearts and in our memories until we can see the light of your face again.

Rest in peace and let your spirit run free and happy. God bless.


I am very honoured to be asked to speak about Natalie today. At the same time this is probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

Natalie was born near Melbourne (Australia) in June 1984. At that time the family was living there, Adrian was working at the local Air Force base. There must have been “something in the blood” of the Streather family, as they moved regularly, living in many places around the country; Sydney, Alice Springs, Darwin, staying not more than a few years in each place, finally moving to Switzerland in 1993. That was nearly 9 years ago, so like her sister Stephanie and brother Jeremy, Natalie spent more of her life there than in any other place.

Moving around so much, I was never able to see a great deal of Natalie, only when they came home to Adelaide to visit, or when I visited them there in Switzerland. However I have very strong memories of Natalie as a child. Natalie was always this thin, “freckly faced” little girl, blond hair, blue eyes, smiling face, happy, full of life. She always reminded me of Gail, her mother. Gail and I grew up together, she was always my “little sister”, always into mischief (which is probably where Natalie gets it from). When I looked at Natalie I always saw Gail all over again.

I remember visiting them in Walzenhausen in about 1995. While staying there we went on outings, to see some of the local scenery. We went swimming in the Bodensee, we dined at a restaurant in Rorschach, we went walking around Walzenhausen, one time going down to the Grimmenstein ruins. I remember Natalie was always eager to show me around, showing me places she had discovered, placed where she would play with her friends, things she enjoyed. She was a “happy-go-lucky” girl, playful, full of beans, full of energy and unable to sit still for too long, and she seemed to just enjoy being a “kid” with her brother and sister.

Natalie also had a talent for art. I have seen paintings that she has done, woolen dolls and fluffy toys that she has made. She was a talented and gifted girl who had so much to offer.

These are the memories I have of Natalie, before the horrendous evil that came and took control of her with such a tragic result. While I did not see Natalie during this time, it seems that she was not the same person, that she was no longer in control, and her whole life was turned up-side down.

Natalie’s death has hit us all very hard. I can think of nothing more difficult than to lose a child, and particularly in such a way that seems so senseless and unnecessary.
We find it difficult to believe that God has a purpose in Natalie’s death. I certainly do not believe that it was God’s will for Natalie to die. I don’t believe God was ready for her.

But I am sure he will take good care of her.

But there are two things I would like to offer you for comfort.

  1. As a Christian I take hold of the promise that God gives to us in “John 3:16”: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

    Therefore I cannot accept that this (death) is the end for Natalie, but rather a new beginning. Natalie has left the pain and suffering of this world behind, and is already with the Father, which is where I hope to be when my time comes. Though here on Earth death seems so final, we have no need to fear death. It has no sting.

    So we may grieve today because Natalie is not here with us, but she is in a far better place, she is in Paradise with the Lord.

  2. God the father knows exactly how you feel, and what you are experiencing right now. His only Son, Jesus died as a result of man’s evil. I am sure his grief was no less than your own. Therefore it is my prayer that he will be your source of strength, hope and comfort at this time.

One thing that the service today brings home to the everyone here is that Children are a special gift, that we have been given. It is my prayer that we will not take our children for granted. They are not children for long, and we will only have them for a short time.
Every day that we can spend with our children should be treasured. Take an interest in what they are doing, show that you care. Enjoy them while you have them. Don’t be afraid to tell them you love them. Praise God for every day that you are able to share with them.

There is a saying:

It is fruitless to dwell on the past: Whatever you do, you cannot change it Likewise do not waste time worrying unnecessarily about the future It will come whether you worry or not The NOW, the Moment is precious, it will never come again. Today is a “Gift”, that’s why it is called “the Present”.

So today, we not only grieve for what we have lost, but importantly we also give thanks to God that we have had the fortune to have been blessed with Natalie’s for nearly 18 years, and praise him that we had the opportunity to know her.

I cannot stand here today without saying something about drugs.
We cannot simply ignore the subject, and I am sure that Natalie would not want us to.

Drugs, and people that deal in them, are part of an insidious evil that preys on young, beautiful, innocent people. This is not just a problem in Switzerland, Australia too has seen its share of problems. I doubt there is one country in the world that has not been touched by their influence. The tragedy of drugs is that they not only destroy the lives of the young, but affect the lives of their families and friends as well.
The problem is that it is very easy to have an apathetic view, and say:
“Yes! Drugs are a problem, but they don’t affect me.” Well they HAVE affected you!
The problem has touched everyone here in this church in one way or another, otherwise you would not be here today.

When I think about the reason we are here today, I cannot help feeling a strong sense of anger that there are such people in the community, who make a living from ensnaring young people into drug dependence, with complete disregard for those lives they destroy.

I believe you too should all be angry, and justifiably so.
But I would ask that your focus this anger to do something positive.

I would like therefore to give you a challenge.
Ask yourself:

Is there anything I can do
Is there something positive I can do about drugs?
Is there any way that I can help prevent someone,
anyone from getting involved in drugs?
Can I make a difference?

I tell you that you can make a difference.
It may be a small thing like

  • spending time with your children or friends and openly discussing drug issues.
  • becoming involved in the activities in which your child is involved.
  • becoming more active in helping young people in the local community.

Are there activities available in the local community that give them something to do, so that they have no time to be getting into things they shouldn’t?
Perhaps you know someone who is fighting their own personal battle with drugs?
Perhaps you even know one of these scurrilous people who deal in drugs ?

If, from your efforts, we can prevent just one young person from being drawn into the pain and torment that Natalie has endured these many months, then it would be worth it.

If you take anything away with you from this service today, then I hope it is a desire to be more active in the fight against drugs, and those that deal them. It will be a constant battle but I believe each and every one of you can make a difference, and by doing so you can give some meaning to this senseless tragedy.

On Thursday 4th April, I went with Gail and Adrian to see Natalie in Heiden, not far from Walzenhausen. Looking at her lying there, she looked so young, beautiful, angelic, and at peace. It brought back to me those memories of the happy, precious young girl, who was so full of life and promise. That is the real Natalie, and that is the Natalie that I remember.

Therefore I praise God for Natalie’s life, and what part I have been allowed to share in it.
Let me simply say...

The Natalie Louise Streather Memorial Fund has been set up in Natalie's memory.

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