Our Newly formed Compassionate Friends Chapter will hold our first candle lighting in Remembrance of our Children, Grandchildren and Siblings at the December 16 meeting. This Month our room will be moved within theÂ hotel.Â Please check with the front desk … Continue reading
Al Hemingway, staff writer for the ReminderNews is no stranger to grief and loss.Â A Vietnam Vet, Â he has known the loss of Â friends, who may not have been brothers by birth, but became so by choice and circumstance.Â Â Al attended The Compassionate Friends East of the River October 6, 2010 Event featuring Alan Pedersen of the Angels Across The USA Tour and wrote an article for the Reminder News.
The article can be found in the 11/18/2010 East Hartford Edition and highlights how the East of the River Chapter came to be, in honor of RobynApril Rivard-Darby Maguire, who was killed in a tragic accident in her own Vernon front yard December 4, 2008 and is the daughter of leaders Jim Darby and Bettie-Jeanne Rivard-Darby .
“It is a good article” says Bettie-Jeanne.Â “His quotes of Alan speak to every bereaved parent’s heart.Â Al captured the essence of the night,Â and I think, wasÂ touched to be able to light a candle alongsideÂ of us for those he has lost.”
Among the quotes that Alan Pedersen shared between his songs of the evening was the very poignant, “When you are a bereaved parent, you don’t wake up one morning and get ‘unbereaved’.Â We have to go on, but we don’t have to forget.Â We scratch and claw our way through our loss each day. Our ties still remain.Â Our relationships did not die that day; they still live on.”
Chapter Co-Leader Jim Darby was also very pleased with the article and hope that it will help those in needÂ become aware that the newly formed Compassionate Friends chapter exists.Â “I do have one BIG CORRECTION to the article tough,”Â he adds.Â “An error quoting Bettie gives some incorrect information.Â It should have read that although bereaved parents make up the highest concentration of most The Compassionate Friends meeting groups, we very much welcome bereaved siblings and grandparents.Â We are a peer-to-peer support group for anyone whose has lost a child, grandchild or sibling of any age, from pre-birth to full maturity, from any cause.Â There are other grief support groups dedicated to the loss of a parent or grandparent.Â We are the parents who have experienced the death of our children.”Â â™¥
On October 6, 2010 bereaved dad, singer ~ song writer, grief spokesperson Alan Pedersen came to Connecticut,with the mission of ANGELS ACROSS THE USA and touched our hearts with his words. Â Alan shared his own journey after the loss of his daughter, Ashley, while validating the pain, heartache and longing for hope that parents, siblings and grandparents experience after the death of their loved one.
â€œI canâ€™t tell you how much Alan meant to us,â€ one bereaved dad from the Farmington located Central Connecticut Compassionate Friends Chapter said.Â â€œI donâ€™t really know what I was expecting, but being with him that night, listening to him, crying and laughing alongside of him, has meant more to my wife and I than I can tell you.Â Thank you so much for having him [in Connecticut] and inviting us to be part of that evening.â€
Another parent shared, â€œSomething changed for me being there that night listening to Alan.Â He lets us know right from the beginning that its OK to cry and even OK to laugh, but that weâ€™ll never forget.Â Like that song he sang, we wonâ€™t get over but we may move through.â€
At the very beginning of the event Alan shared how one â€œcivilianâ€ approached him after the first year anniversary of Ashleyâ€™s death, wanting to know how long he was going to grieve.Â Alanâ€™s response resonated with every person in the audienceâ€¦â€As long as she is dead.â€
The evening of song and personal stories ended with a candle lighting ceremony in which all were invited to speak their deceased loved oneâ€™s name as their candle was lit, and share a few words about them.Â Plenty of tears were shed, as well as smiles over bittersweet memories as a sea of candles provided a glow of HOPE.
Alan ended the evening by singing TONIGHT I HOLD THIS CANDLE, an anthem for thousands of candle lighting ceremonies worldwide.Â Alan shared, “God wrote this song.Â Â I consider myself fortunate that he trusted me to hold the pen.”Â And though the candles were finally extinguished as family members gathered in the back of the auditorium for connecting, conversation and refreshments, the light of the memories of who they represented will always burn brightly in the hearts of their families.â™¥