2012 International Conference Brings Compassionate Families Together!

Registration is now open for anyone wishing to attend TCF’s 35th National/5th International Gathering to be held July 20-22 in Costa Mesa, California. Registration opened almost two months earlier than normal this year due to the International aspects of the event.

Whispers of Love Workshop 2011 TCF National Conference

“We are expecting bereaved families to attend from many of the more than 30 countries where TCF has a national presence,” says Patricia Loder, Executive Director of The Compassionate Friends/USA. “We welcome to this conference all who are grieving the death of a child, for grief is a universal language and one that TCF’ers around the world know all too well.”

Caring and Compassion

About 1500 are expected to register for the event and reservations for rooms at the host hotel, the Hilton Orange County Costa Mesa Hotel, have been heavier than expected, already leading to the arrangement for overflow accommodations at The Hanford Hotel  across the street (see www.compassionatefriends.org. for latest information)

This year’s conference features four wonderful keynote speakers are :

  • The Reverend Canon Simon Stephens, founder of The Compassionate Friends worldwide and bereaved sibling, who will travel from his home in Moscow to share his thoughts with the large International and U.S. crowd that is expected to gather.
  • Lois Duncan, the prolific and award winning author of 48 books. But, the most difficult one she ever had to write was Who Killed My Daughter?, the story behind her search for the truth in the death of her 18-year-old daughter Kaitlyn Arquette in what police called a random drive by shooting.
  • Kathy Eldon, journalist, author, producer, activist, and mother who found her life changed forever when her 22-year-old son, Dan Eldon, A Reuters photographer, was stoned to death by an angry mob as he did his job in Somalia in July of 1993. Among her books are Angel Catcher: A Journal of Loss and Remembrance and The Journey is the Destination.
  • Darcie Sims, always popular international keynote speaker, who brings her wit and wisdom as a bereaved parent and certified grief management specialist to the podium in Costa Mesa. Co-founder of Grief, Inc., an international grief consulting firm, Darcie is a well known and respected author and speaker. She wrote the grief book,  Why are the Casseroles Always Tuna?

TCF conferences are known for their great entertainment and this year will be no different. Featured will be California entertainers including the Love in Motion Signing Choir; TCF favorite Alan Pedersen; Cassidy Mueller and Chris Donohue, local favorites.

Love in Motion Choir
  • There will be over 100 workshops for bereaved parents and also a full track of workshops for bereaved siblings.
  • A host of sharing sessions on various grief related topics will be held Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights
  • Meet & Greets Thursday, July 19 for: Siblings; Grandparents; Online Support Community; TCF/USA Facebook members; and Regional Coordinators Meet & Greet with Chapter Leaders.
  • The International Gathering will include a Spanish workshop and sharing session Thursday, July 19, 2012 for our Hispanic/Latino families and bilingual families
  • Friday ~”An Evening with Darcie Sims” where her topic will be: Finding Your Way Through Grief: Does Grief Come in “One Size Fits All?”
  • Sibling trip Friday to Dave and Buster’s
  • Sunday morning hosts The National WALK TO REMEMBER ~
    The Compassionate Friends Walk to Remember® is a highlight of every TCF National Conference. It was created as a symbolic way to show the love we carry for the children we mourn. Held at 8 a.m. Sunday on the final day of the national conference it starts at the host hotel of the conference.  There is an air of anticipation and excitement as everyone gathers in preparation for the start of the Walk. Finally the Walk begins and, hand-in-hand everyone walks, meditating on a much different time in their lives. Since its inception in 2000, the Walk to Remember has taken on many distinctive facets. There is the main Walk to Remember where those attending the conference join with local bereaved families and others who fly in from across the country just for the Walk.  As many as 1400 have participated. Some go the full distance while others only walk a short way knowing that in participating, they are remembering. Special Walk to Remember T-shirts are given to all who register, as well as walk bibs where the names of the children being remembered can be written.
  • Combine your California visit with a time of relaxation and meditation with a pre-conference excursion on Thursday, July 19 to the Huntington Library, art collection and botanical gardens, plus Monday, post-conference transportation to Disneyland (special discounted tickets available to purchase online direct from Disneyland).
  • And at the Conference -Don’t miss the Meditation Room; Fully stocked Bookstore; the Butterfly Boutique; Hospitality Suites; and the silent auction/raffle.

TCF has also arranged with American Airlines to provide those attending the conference a 5% discount available on all American Airlines, American Eagle, and American Connection. The valid travel dates for the discount are July 14-27, 2012. To take advantage of this discount, go to www.aa.com to book your flight and use the Promotional Code 2372DJ and your discount will be automatically calculated. Flights eligible include any arriving at John Wayne Santa Anna Airport (SNA), LAX, and Ontario (ONT) Airports.

For more information on the conference including online registration - www.compassionatefriends.org News and Events TCF 2012 National Conference and 5th International Gathering or call 877-969-0010.♥


Mitch Carmody, 2011 Key Note Presenter

Angel Moms Care
Jim Darby, Wayne Loder, Bettie-Jeanne, Pat Loder
Preparing To Walk - TCF Walk To Remember 2011               



Recently one of our siblings was approached by someone who, knowing that she is a bereaved sibling missing her big brother, informed her that it was time for her to “LET GO” .
Our sibling shared this encounter on her Facebook Wall:

“Someone just told me that I need to let my Brother go. Its funny how people who have never been through a loss like mine feel they know enough to tell me how I should feel. This person said that if they were me they would have let it go by now. Well, easy for you to say! Your sibling is still alive and well.  Gosh… I guess your just stronger then me. He’s my Brother. Death does not change that.  Death does not take away my love for my BROTHER. I will NEVER let him go. not until the day I die…”

She shared that she had been having a good day,  a good week and after this command she  cried  most of the night.  IF this “friend” was “trying to help”, it had the exact opposite effect!

Some friends may think that by telling we who are bereaved to  “let go” that they are giving us permission and encouragement to once again embrace and enjoy live.  But our interpretation  (and often their meaning) comes across more as
“Get over yourself. I am tired of hearing about it.  He’s DEAD already.  Nothing is going to bring him back, so LET HIM GO.  MOVE ON.”
Personally, my first response was that this “friend” was no friend at all and bordered on IDIOT.

But I took a deep breath and pushed away my grieving mom and bereaved sibling heart and put on my TCF Chapter Leader / Facilitator Hat.
Sometimes informing a bereaved person that they SHOULD “Let Go” of “Move on” can be received as pretty insensitive and uniformed.

Why is it that if our loved ones were still living it would be “acceptable” to talk about them, to share memories, stories, even just say their names…..
But not because they have left the earth plane?
We don’t stop loving them just because their bodies aren’t visible!

What does that even mean to that person
” let your Brother go”?
Does that mean to not talk about him?
To pretend that he didn’t exist?
To not miss him?
To not think of him or wish that he were here?
To not feel pain that you can’t hang out with him or pick up the phone and talk to him?

Why is it acceptable for people to talk about living people whom they love, but it makes so many uncomfortable when we talk about loved ones who no longer walk and talk on the plane?

At our April 2012 meeting, we’ll focus on just what those words mean to us and what we think that others are meaning when they give us this command.

One thing we DO know is that we are not going to let anyone “SHOULD ON US” ♥

Enduring April, Softened By Memories Past

It’s April Again.

It is the 4th April without my daughter and I find myself shaking my head in disbelief that time keeps going on and that, somehow, somehow, somehow I keep surviving along with it.  It seems only a blink of an eye, and forever ago, that even one more moment without Robyn in it was going to end my breathing.  And yet, here I am, breathing, enduring, sometimes experiencing happy moments; not hating life as much as I used to.  I haven’t come to embrace life again yet, but I am avoiding it less.

It’s April Again.

The time that many say is of rebirth and newness ~ teaming with new beginnings and new opportunities…

A Time of Hope, some say.

April was always a favorite month for me.

My RobynApril was named for the joy that I always found in the magic of the reawakening of nature after our bleak  and grey New England winters. And though she wasn’t born in April, April became the month of Robbie’s “2nd” birthday, enduring it to me even further.

On a very magical April 10th, 14 years ago, Jim , Robyn and I stood in Judge’s Chambers, finalizing her adoption. She had long been Jim’s daughter by love, if not by birth, and now, finally, we had been able to take the steps to bring to legality what had already been in our hearts. Once the Judge had completed the legal abracadabra between father and daughter, he turned to Robbie and I to now adopt each other as well.  It took us by surprise, this legal t crossing and i dotting that we hadn’t known about.  Even though she had emerged from my body and was my own birth daughter, we were now being asked to reaffirm ourselves as mom and kid.

Of course, we hemmed and hawed, teasing each other, then very happily and very solemnly agreed that we were adopting each other for all of our lives.  We were making a very conscious choice to accept each other as we were, with our faults and frailties.  We had always felt that we belonged together, that we had been connected, sharing lives together for eons.  And now we were choosing as two women, as two friends, as Mom and Daughter, forever connected.

Six years later, on Robyn’s wedding day she publically shared a message to me

“Mom, I love you so very much, there aren’t the words for it.  I know that you feel your position isn’t special.  But it is very special to me.  Yes you did give birth to me which automatically give you the Mother-Of-The-Bride Title.  You’re more than just that to me, which is why I came up with The Honor Hand Maiden Title that is so very appropriate for you.  You’ve helped me out getting ready for everything from school pictures to dance competitions to life.  And you still continue to be there for me when I need you…
Mom, you remember back to April 10th 1998 when Jim adopted me.  Remember how surprised we were that we had the choice of you still being my mom.  It was in that moment that you and I decided that we wanted to be mom and daughter.  That to me says more than anything in the world.
When something exciting happens or I’m feeling blah or I’m just being silly and having an over active imagination or I need a little encouragement or when I freak out because I actually am enjoying baking and cooking, you’re the 1st person I call.
Yes you are my mother and that’s important,
But mom, you’re also my best friend.
I love you, always!!”

œ ♥  
I have always thought of April as Robbie’s 2nd birthday—goodness knows, she loved getting two birthday gifts! But I have also come to realize what a gift it was to me…I not only gave birth to a baby who had no conscious choice of being my child, but my child also became a young woman, who, given the choice, deliberately chose me to be her mom.

I have been having a lot of emotions surfacing this April, bittersweet within the memories.  It’s been hard, missing her.

Every month ~ Every week ~ Every day ~ There are triggers ~ Reminders ~ Remembrances

But it doesn’t take a “special occasion” because wherever I go, whenever I go, my daughter is still forefront in my heart and in my mind.
I carried her ten months inside of me
And I will carry her in my heart for all of my days.

April has long been filled with the magic of reawakening, rebirth and HOPE.  Robbie lived up to the light of April in her name.  And now, 40 months after I kissed her  good bye for the last time, I am struggling to find and remember that magic and Hope in a life without her physically here.

I am here, breathing, enduring, sometimes experiencing happy moments; not hating life as much as I used to.  I haven’t come to embrace life again yet, but I am avoiding it less.♥