Death Sucks! Walking Not Alone Makes it Suck Less

Death Sucks.

Let’s face it, being left behind after someone you love dies, is not a pleasant experience.   And when it is your own child, it truly SUCKS more than there are words for.

I once was in a bereavement support group after, RobynApril,  my 28 year old beautiful daughter was crushed to death in her own front yard, and when asked how I was doing, replied truthfully with  “It SUCKS.”  The facilitator was taken aback and told me that such a response was vulgar.  I still remember looking at him through glazed, tear filled eyes and asked “And what is more vulgar than the death of my child?”  What indeed?

The other day I was speaking to a mom in her mid 70s.  Her son had been killed in line of duty 18 years ago as a Connecticut State Trooper.  Her daughter was taken by cancer 4 years go.  Apologizing for my possible offense to her, I told her that IT SUCKS.  “No,” she retorted, “It sucks BIG TIME!”  And we laughed together, understanding as only parents do who have lost a child, how BIG TIME, doesn’t even begin to cover it!

Those who have not experienced it, may want to be sympathetic and caring, but to really do so they have to imagine themselves standing at the casket of their own child, wearing cremation jewelry in a pendant around their necks, never seeing their own child again…and that imagination is too ugly to conjure up…and too frightening that it can become real.  So many civilians, as we often think now of those who have been spared this unimaginable pain, drift away from we bereaved parents as if we are contagious.  For many, our heartbreak is too painful for them to share.  Others grow impatient waiting for us to return to our former lighthearted, happy, joy filled selves.  What they don’t understand is how impossible it is to go back to who-we-used-to-be-before our child was ripped from our lives.  We are different people now.  EVERYTHING changed when our child took the last breath on earth.  Many of our former friends grow bored with our need to talk about our child and keep their spirit with us in the sharing of memories and stories.  So, not only do we lose our child, but we lose many people around us, who we always believed that we could count on, and painfully discovered that we couldn’t.  And we grow even more lonely and feeling alone.  And it Sucks.  Big Time.

In the beginning, many of us don’t care if we survive.  It doesn’t mean that we will purposely end our own lives; we don’t want to dishonor the memory of our child, but we don’t really care about living.  We often become passive riders rather than active participants.  The first year following the death is unbelievable pain, but there is still shock to numb and the care and comfort of some understanding friends and family.  The second year, for many bereaved parents, is much worse than the first.  Friends fade away, the protective fog wears off and the Reality begins to set in.  People often stop saying the name of our child, because they are very mistakenly afraid that if they do we will suddenly be reminded and cause pain.  The pain is always present, even if we aren’t showing it.  We are always remembering.  The third year can hit with force that is shocking.  Even if, as bereaved parents, we are becoming desensitized to the words DEATH, GONE, NOT COMING BACK, we still get hit with a Reality Check that can create agony. In the third year people really seem to need us to “be over it”, to have “moved on”  to have stopped grieving.  What “the civilian world” may not realize is not only are we considered NEWLY BEREAVED for the first full five years after our child’s death, but that we will always be our children’s parents for as long as we live, not just as long as they did.

I am told, though I don’t know because I haven’t gotten there yet, that the sharp pain of grief begins to soften more noticeably around the 5th year as we fall into the now-familiar rhythm of the empty space in our lives,

I am pretty sure that it will Still SUCK.  Because my daughter will still be dead.  Ask my friend who cremated her son 18 years ago.  BIG TIME!

Being around others who “get it”, who not only don’t cringe when we speak our children’s names, but ask to hear the stories, want to meet them through our memories, is a ray of light in the darkness forced upon us.  As time passes, we are forced to speak less and less about “the child gone too soon”.  Yet we Never Forget.  We Need To Remember.

The Compassionate Friends is the largest peer-to-peer bereavement support group for those who suffer the death of a child, grandchild, or sibling; gone from any cause, from any age- pre-birth to full maturity.  There are 10 TCF Chapters located in Connecticut and over 660 in the United States with chapters in 30+ more countries internationally.

 “The Compassionate Friends
is about transforming the pain of grief into the elixir of hope.
It takes people out of the isolation society imposes on the bereaved
and lets them express their grief naturally.
With the shedding of tears, healing comes.
And the newly bereaved get to see people who have survived
and are learning to live and love again.”

~Simon Stephens, founder of The Compassionate Friends

 Jim and I founded the TCF East Of The River CT Chapter in 2010, partly to help others who were experiencing the horrible pain we know all too well, but also to continue to help ourselves.  Our “new family” and “new friends” are mostly those whom we have met through The Compassionate Friends Meetings and conferences.

On Sunday, July 15, we will join others in the 2nd Annual Statewide WALK TO REMEMBER®.  Together, we will share a day of Community and Caring ~ a day of Remembrance ~ A Safe, Compassionate Gathering where we can shout out the names of our deceased loved ones, tell their stories and hold them not only in our own hearts, but share them with others!  Throughout the month of July, TCF Chapters all over the United States will host their own walks, but Connecticut is the only state hosting a Statewide Walk to involve its entire 10 TCF Chapters, their families and friends.  Not limited to The Compassionate Friends Members, Anyone and Everyone who knows the pain of the death of someone they love is welcome to come and WALK ALONG SIDE US for this FREE EVENT. (pre-registration is requested)

We will be Holding Hands and Hugging Hearts.
We will be sharing and listening to stories of those who have gone too soon.
We Will Remember With Love.
We Will Cry and We Will Laugh.

And we will Walk with Others who understand, Who “Get it”, Who Care.

And it will STILL SUCK.
But Not As Much.

 Anyone interested in walking or finding more out about the event can click here to find information or can call the Walk Information Line 860-578-HUG2 (4842) .


The TCF East Of The River CT Chapter meets the third Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at the Hilton Inn & Suites on Pleasant Valley Rd in Manchester. For more information, call Rivard-Darby at 860-375-EØTR (3087) or visit For information about the national organization and other chapter locations, call toll-free 877-969-0010 or visit TCF’s national web site at The Compassionate Friends has a presence in at least 30 countries worldwide.


Walk to Remember ~ Coming Together In Strength, Love and Caring

At our last monthly The Compassionate Friends East of the River monthly meeting a newly bereaved grandfather spoke quietly, but strongly.  Living outside of theUnited States, he had blessedly made it to Connecticut in time to cradle his ailing grandson in his arms.  Baby Luke had lived only a short 5 months and all of it in the Nic-U, but he made an impact on the lives around him.  His family aches from his loss only a year ago.  As his Grandfather shared his emotions, all were filled with rapt and reverent silence.  It was his first, and perhaps only, time attending a Compassionate Friends meeting.  But he found tremendous value in attending with his wife, his daughter and her spouse.  He held up his hand, fingers spread apart.  Each finger, he expressed, represented each of us in The Compassionate Friends support group.  We each were there, he explained, separate and yet connected.  Then he made a fist and said that this was all of us together, More Powerful, More Capable and filled with Strength!

How right he is!

As bereaved parents, grandparents, siblings, most of us can find ways to slowly survive after the death of a ‘child’ in our family, whether or not we ever attend a The Compassionate Friends Meeting.  Life plugs along and goes on, whether or not we remain passive unwilling participants or we find ways to slowly come back to wanting to live a fulfilling life again.  But together, through our relationships built through The Compassionate Friends, we learn not only that we are not alone, but that we are not crazy in our emotions and experiences following the death of someone who was part of us.  Alongside the others in our new Compassionate Friends Family, we find strength….strength to go on in the darkest and most horrible time in our lives…strength to allow the tears to flow, the laughter to return, the memories to be shared.

One can survive the death of their child or sibling without ever attending the peer-to-peer support group, but to sit along side of others who “get it”, who we don’t have to mask with, who understand our deepest, most scary emotions, without us barely having to say a word, is like The Fist.  We become connected to others, and through that connection comes a vital strength and possibilities of “MORE”…We learn, together, albeit very slowly, that there Can Be More; even though for the first few years following the death of our child or sibling, most of us might wonder how life will ever be More again, or even why we would want More.  We are all so singularly fractured after the death that rebuilding a life seems not only daunting, but, often unwanted.  But with the others next to us, supporting us, caring for us, experiencing with us, we begin to regain that strength….like the fist held up by Luke’s grandfather.  The journey is never good, never easy, never pleasurable, but alongside of our Compassionate Friends Family, it is less horrible then if we were alone.

Every year at the Annual Walk to Remember, bereaved parents, grandparents, siblings, family, friends, as well as community leaders and supportive others come together like the fingers of that first.  This year The East Of the River CT Chapter of The Compassionate Friends will be hosting the 2nd Annual Statewide Walk to Remember on Sunday July 15.  The Walk is held concurrently in the same month as the National Walk to Remember ®, this year held inCosta Mesa,CA.  Patterned after the National Walk, which was created by THE COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS in 2002, as a symbolic way to show the love that bereaved families carry for the children they mourn, our local walk provides a Day of Community and Caring ~ a day of Remembrance ~ A Safe, Compassionate Gathering where we can shout out the names of our deceased loved ones, tell their stories and hold them not only in our own hearts, but share them with others.  The Connecticut Walk isn’t just about THE WALK.  After the gentle 1.5 mile stroll through Center Springs Park and a few blocks of both business and residential streets of Manchester, our East Of The River CT chapter provides FREE burgers and hotdogs; families contribute to pot luck, there are Memory Boards to share photos and stories of loved ones, time to sit and talk, sharing memories not only of their deaths, but of their Lives.  Peaceful, yet inspiring music adds a comforting backdrop.  The afternoon ends about 3:00 with a brief Remembrance Ceremony and the release of butterflies.

Both The Walk to Remember and our regular The Compassionate Friends Monthly Meetings reaffirm that WE NEED NOT WALK ALONE as bereaved families.  Like the fingers that come together to make the fist, as Luke’s grandfather reminded us, we derive a strength from being Together.


As hosted by
The Compassionate Friends East Of The River CT Chapter
July 15, 2012 Rain or Shine
(butterfly release will be postponed is case of inclement weather)
CenterSpringsPark –Manchester,Connecticut
Pre-registration requested at
Check in and on-site late registration  10:00 am    Walk 11:00 am
Cookout begins about 12:30
Remembrance Ceremony and Butterfly Release about 2:00 / 2:30
Park reserved for fishing, conversation and more until 4:00
Personalized Walk To Remember T Shirts available by pre-order only

Donations will be accepted Day of the Walk
and can also be made on line through our Team
On the safe
FRIENDS HELPING FRIENDS® On-Line Virtual Fund–Raising Walk Site

EVERYONE is invited!

♥    Bereaved Families, their friends and support
♥    Community Leaders
♥  Social, Medical, Religious Personnel
♥ Any one who would like to attend the National WALK TO REMEMBER® but won’t be able to make it to Costa Mesa this year
♥ All Ten Connecticut TCF Chapters – Their Leaders, Members, Family and Friends
♥  TCF Chapters in all surrounding states
♥  Anyone who has ever lost a loved one

Pre-registration is requested