Josette Scerri, the Headmistress of St Nicholas College Baħrija Primary School, has passed away only a few weeks after raising awareness about living with the chronic condition fibromyalgia in a poignant guest post on Lovin Malta.
Scerri was one of dozens of people who suffer from fibromyalgia, a chronic and lifelong condition that causes widespread pain in one’s muscles and bones. These symptoms are usually accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory loss and mood issues. The condition was not behind Scerri’s death.
Yet, Fibromyalgia left Scerri in immense pain throughout her daily life – sometimes being unable to move properly and go to work due to severe flare-ups. She described in her guest post that, on the worst days, her whole body would feel “on fire” with the pain.
News of her passing filled Facebook throughout this weekend amid an outpouring of heartfelt messages and grief – from Scerri’s family, friends and colleagues.
“Our beloved Head of School, Ms Josette Scerri has left Baħrija Primary School with loads of bags full of good deeds,” a letter to students and parents by Baħrija Primary School read.
“Dear Ms Scerri, we miss you so much, we miss your smile, care, kindness, compassion, reassurance. The list is endless!”
Scerri’s perseverance throughout her life was inspirational, always striving to do her part no matter how her Fibromyalgia made her feel. She described that her daily life at school would be filled with checking in on teachers and students – ensuring that their voices were heard and their needs met.
She also highlighted the amazing support that her colleagues and children provided her – always being ready to step in or help her whenever she was unable to keep going on her own.
Evarist Bartolo, the Minister for European & Foreign Affairs, reflected on Scerri’s death in light of having worked with the Headmistress in the past.
“I found her a dedicated and serious woman, she loves to do good, not only in the schools she led with vision and commitment but also in the whole society,” his statement read.
Lovin Malta reached out to Ruth Debono, President of the ME, CFS and Fibromyalgia Alliance, for her reaction to Scerri’s death.
“I was in shock, literally in shock. I was speaking with her last December and we were planning to work together – perhaps she would join the board and perhaps she would help work together with the NGO to help raise more awareness on Fibromyalgia.”
She went on to note reiterate what it is like living with Fibromyalgia, noting that it is “living like a zombie: you are living with constant pain and fatigue. You are constantly figuring out a way to cope with the illness.”
“It literally takes your breath away, you must reinvent yourself and adapt to your new self. You must get used to living with the new you because it takes away the old you.”
Debono also noted that when it came to Fibromyalgia, an illness that is invisible and thus usually goes misunderstood by many, it can “take away everything from you”, whether it is your family, friends or even your work life.
RIP Josette Scerri