31 DAYS OF HOPE – 2017

Every day, through the month of December 2017, our
The Compassionate Friends National Director, Debbie Rambis,
is hosting conversations about Hope in Grief,
through TCF 31 Days of Hope videos, on youtube.

Each video offers the perspective of a TCF member who lives this life;
who started, as many of us start, with thinking that Hope may be impossible,
or even that Hope is a word of which we may never relate…
but, slowly, each person has come to a place of Different Living.

On these videos they share the HOWs, WHYs, WAYs of Surviving Their Grief.
They share how they are becoming or have become, Intentional Survivors, instead of Collateral Victims of their Loved One’s Death.

You are invited to post your own personal message of Hope, with a photo of your loved one, on
The Wall of Hope
https://www.compassionatefriends.org/wall-of-hope/

Check Back for Updates as New Messages of Hope are Created
TCF 31 Days of Hope 2017 (pdf Table of Links)

DAY PRESENTER LOVED ONE TCF TINY URL
1 Debbie Rambis
Director of
The Compassionate Friends
Tony’s Mom https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-1
2 Mark Rambis Tony’s Dad https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-2
3 Erica McKeel Murphy’s Mom https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-3
4 Steve Parker Alyssa’s Dad https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-4
5 Marcia Alig Daniel’s Mom https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-5
6 Jordon Ferber Russel’s Brother https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-6
7 Bob and Mary Lane Amanda’s Mom and Dad https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-7
8 Theresa Iervolino Jessica’s Mom https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-8
9 Debbie Dullabaun Little Dale’s Mom https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-9
10 Donna Flynn Rich’s Mom https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-10
11 Barbara Allen Jessica’s Mom
Jim’s Mom
John Roger’s Sister
Bill’s Sister
Tom’s Sister
Amanda’s Aunt
https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-11
12 Sue Williams Bernard’s Mom https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-12
13 French Smith Steve’s Dad https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-13
14 Roy and Barbara Davies Roy and Taylor’s Mom and Dad https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-14
15 Allie Sims Big A’s Sister https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-15
16 Patrick Malone Lance’s Dad https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-16
17 Linda Wallace

 

Michael
and Benjamin’s mom
Bereaved Gram
https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-17
18 Debbie Floyd TJ’s mom
Bobby, Michaels and Carl’s sister
https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-18
19 Art Estrella Brian’s Dad https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-19
20 Spring Texas Chapter https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-20
21 Cathy Tull Sarah’s Mom https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-21
22 Nivia Vazquez Madre de José Francisco https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-22

https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-22Spanish

23 Julie Brown Korie and Kacie’s mom to angel babies https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-23
24 Heidi Horsley Scott’s sister and Matthew’s cousin. She talks about sibling grief. https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-24
25 Bart Sumner David ‘s Dad https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-25
26 Peggy Johnson Jordan’s Mom https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-Day26
27 Mark Tull Sarah’s Step-dad https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-27
28 Susan Chan https://tinyurl.com/TCF31DaysofHope2017-28

The Bark and The Tree ~ A Grief Journey

In April of 2010, just 16 months after my Robbie left the earth plane, I wrote THE BARK AND THE TREE for my (then) TCF Chapter newsletter.

I am at a different place, now, than I was then…

Yet sharing these words, these emotions, is no less honest, no less important.  I will be  adding a post script to the ending, 13 months after I initially wrote

 The Bark and The Tree

My first night at our The Compassionate Friends meeting, after the meeting had ended, a few of us sat, talking.  It had been only about a month since my daughter’s tragic accident and I was that combination of foggily numb, angry, cloudy and very depressed that most of you know so very well from your own journey.  In my heart I knew that my life could never be anything but what is was at that moment.

An analogy was shared with me that evening that I absorbed as much as I could absorb anything in that fogginess.  My daughter used to call me, not necessarily with great fondness, The Queen of Analogies.  I had used them, often to her annoyance,  frequently as she was growing up to illustrate points and teach lessons.  They didn’t always make sense to her, but being The Analogy Queen, I coveted any good one that I heard and make up scores of others on my own.

Over the course of the following months after that night, I found myself drawn back to the Tree and Bark Analogy when people would ask how I was doing.  “Today I only know The Bark”, I might reply, or  “There may be a vague sighting of something that could be a tree”, I might say at another time.   And then I would have to explain what I meant, having turned The Bark of the Tree into an analogy that spoke to my emotions.

In the very beginning following the death of our loved one, it is as if we are standing in a forest, but with our faces pressed up against the bark of a single tree.  It is all that we can see.  It blocks out the sun and obscures everything else. All we know, all we are, everything that exists for us is that blurred bark of the single tree.

As time passes, we might, some days, notice that there may be a butterfly lit upon that patch of bark, or a bit of life sustaining sap trickling upon the grain.  Maybe, on one particularly day, we might notice that the patch of bark is actually part of a tree.  And as some time passes, we might begin to notice that the tree has another that stands next to it; and another and another and that there is actually green grass making up their bed and blue sky welcoming their outreaching branches. On a particular day we might notice that The Bark on The Tree is actually part of a forest and that other life, other animals weave among the trees and fly among the branches.  Our ears may hear the babbling of a distant brook or the songs of the birds.  We might actually feel the warmth of sun or a cool breeze tickling our skin.  And, then, some days, again and again, all we can see is The Bark.

The Bark never goes away.  It is always part of our picture.  Some days, especially in the beginning of what is now our Lifetime Journey, The Bark is all that we can handle, all we can see, all we know exists.  Sometimes, even on that same day, we might get a glimpse of the trees or feel the sun, but then are pulled back to seeing only The Bark.  Yet the forest remains, too, even if some times it is  out of our ability to comprehend its existence.

Mostly, in the first year of the past 495 days, I’ve had my face pressed up against The Bark and was often aware of little else.  Occasionally I would surprise myself, when someone asked, to admit that there were times, when I might believe in the possibility that I could see other trees someday.  And once in a rare while, now, I do catch a blurred glimpse of The Entire Forest.  Yet some days, especially the days that Robyn’s Void screams so loudly that I can hear nothing but how deeply I miss her and grieve for the absence of our daily teasing, talking and friendship, that there exists only the fogged coarseness of The Bark.

It was more than a year after my first meeting that I discovered who had presented the analogy to the women who had shared it so kindly with me that first night.  She is Toni Wood, Barry’s mom, and had long been a Compassionate Friend to the members of This Ugly Club that we all, so deeply against our will, were forced to become part of.  I was able to talk with Toni about the origin of The Trees and she shared this with me:

“…To tell you the truth I have no clue where I got that from… but I used it because it worked for me.  I can see the tree now more clearly and the memories don’t always make me cry now ~ most of the time, but not all.  When I first thought about this analogy all I could see was the ugly knot of Barry’s death.  I could not see the good memories, the wonderful things he did and said.  I had to step back and get my nose away from the knot in the tree so I could see more of the tree ~ his life.  The roots of the tree ~ the family.  The branches ~ his son and wife and friends.  The leaves and flowers are the good and the bad things he did in his life.  Even bad things are good memories now.”

Toni Wood, Barry’s mom

What I do know now to be true, is that The Bark will never completely go away for me, though, someday, it might become ‘the bark’.  And I have found that sometimes I might be having a “Forest Moment”; like the day I officiated my son and my daughter-in-law’s outdoor Vermont winter wedding. Their vows were shared next to a gorge, a shivering waterfall and among the birds and trees.  I was in “The Forest” when all of the sudden a painful spasm of Robyn’s Absence, hurled me back toward The Bark.  I know that even at a time when I might feel the sun, that I can suddenly crash right back into The Bark of the Tree.  That is The Reality of Missing My Child.

Perhaps the irony is that, as a family, we bought 30 acres of forest that we built our family home on together.  We used to play among the trees and go “tree hunting” for games of hide and seek and scrap wood for our cozy fire circles.  Trees always used to make me smile and feel comforted.  Perhaps, some day, again, I will see them and appreciate their beauty.   For right now, I am still all too well aware of The Bark. ♥

Bettie-Jeanne Rivard-Darby, Ellington, CT
Forever RobynApril’s mom
 
May 2011 Post Script
To Be Posted

 

RobynApril Rivard-Darby

IT ISN’T CRAZY TO MOURN THE DEATH OF A CHILD

MAKENZIE MOUSE CHOWDERPOT edge
I know a young mom and dad who carry with them a stuffed Minnie Mouse, which emotionally connects them to their deceased Baby Girl.  Sometimes they take photos of themselves with their now named “Makenzie Mouse”, as if they are taking family shots with their little girl who will never get to be in a family photo.  They have been known to put a lobster bib on Miss Mouse, symbolic of bringing their Baby Girl out to dinner with them.

People, even members of their family, think that they are CRAZY.

They aren’t Crazy, they are Just Grieving.

They know that the stuffed toy isn’t their daughter.  They know, in a hard and painful reality much too harsh for those who don’t live it to understand, that their little one is now cremains in an urn sitting in the room that was intended to be her nursery.  They know that their first born will never go on a family trip, or get to be read stories to, have a baptism, or a first birthday party…

They KNOW.

When they bring their stuffed Makenzie Mouse (a nickname for their little Baby Girl) with them places, they KNOW that it is not their living breathing Baby Girl, because she never had a chance to do either.  It doesn’t matter if there will be other children to share their lives, THIS CHILD matters, IS SPECIAL, IS IMPORTANT and will ALWAYS, ALWAYS be their child. They might carry a stuffed toy, bringing comfort to them, for as long as they want to, but they ALWAYS, and will ALWAYS, carry their deceased little girl in their hearts.

Their daughter’s body ended.
They KNOW that.|
BABY MAKENZIE MOUSE edge

But their relationship with their daughter didn’t end.
Their love for their daughter didn’t end.
Their dreams for their daughter’s should-have-been future remain in every fiber of their pores.

And this is the way it is, Every Day, for bereaved parents.

The bodies of our loved children may be lying in breathless repose on silks in a casket buried under sodden earth, or cremains worn in a pendant around our necks, and the rest of the “civilian world” may view them as Dead, Gone and No Longer, but they Remain Alive in our memories, in our dreams, in our desire and in our hearts.  They are still active parts of our conscious thoughts and decisions.  We think about them every day, just as we would if their lungs still shared the same air on earth we breathe.  It isn’t just missing them on their birth dates or their death dates or every family gathering; they are in our blood, in our love, in every thought behind the thoughts, behind our smiles and our tears; they are just as much as part of us as if they lived.

We ARE, after all, their parents for as Long as We Live,
not just as long as they did.
Makenzie mouse

 

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

If you are the parent, sibling, grandparent, friend of a deceased loved one whom you would like to remember and honor
join us for
A BIG GIANT HUG
Connecticut 3rd Annual Statewide Walk to Remember
FREE Day of Community and Caring
Sunday July 21, 2013
Center Springs Park
Manchester, CT
check-in at 11:00
Walk begins at 12:00
FREE Cookout immediately following
Register NOW
Photo T-Shirts are available to RESERVE (ORDER) NOW
Learn More
www.WalkToRememberCT.org

Walk To Remember is a beautiful statewide tribute to the memory of children taken too soon and the strength of those they leave behind.
But it’s so much more than just a shared walk.
From the pot luck picnic to the butterfly release, music to memory boards, it’s a day to celebrate the healing power of the human spirit.