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 TCFEastOfTheRiverCT.org
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

Walking To Remember my Daughter, My Brothers, and ALL Gone Too Soon

We are less than one month away from

Connecticut’s FIRST EVER

JULY 9, 2011
Center Springs Park
Manchester, CT
On Site Check In 10:00
Walk Begins at 11:00


those you love who are no longer here to walk for themselves!Together, we honor our loved ones while
creating a public awareness  that
The Compassionate Friends
exists and is here to help those who need us


Registration On-Line

registration is necessary for insurance purposes
and to get a head count for food, butterflies and walk bibs

 Can’t make the walk,
but want to make a supportive donation?
How To Make A General Donation

or find my secure donation page directly
and make a donation in Robbie’s honor at:
RobynApril Rivard-Darby Maguire ~ Bettie-Jeanne

ON JULY 9th!
I will be Walking to Remember my daughter
Who does not deserve to be forgotten!

I will be Walking to Remember my brothers,
“Punkins” and Joe

I will be Walking to Remember
every ‘child’ of our chapter
and for every borken heart of every one
of their parents, grandparents and siblings
who miss them so very, very much





Bettie-Jeanne and Dream Come True, RobynApril


Surviving Holiday Pain

by Bettie-Jeanne, RobynApril’s mom

I was at another Compassionate Friends Chapter Meeting last month and someone raised the fact that it really doesn’t matter what the date is, the pain is always there. 

I miss my child every day.  Whether it is her birthday, or mine, or Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Mother’s Day….shouldn’t make the pain any worse…  and yet it does.   What is it about the reminder of certain days of the year; the “angelversary” date, the holidays, the special event  dates which seem to open deep wounds and create a flood of fresh pain?  They are only numbers on a calendar, and yet those numbers make a difference for so many of us.

SURVIVING THE ADDITIONAL PAIN of the holidays can really be tougher for so many of us.  Trying to find a way to make our own way among holiday decorations and music,  laughing smiling people everywhere, family festivities that always have a hole where our child ~ our sibling should be with us… hurts all that much more….

Our November 18 Meeting will take a step toward finding ways to  make it through The Holiday Season as best we can; to provide suggestions for coping when we hurt … and to not feel guilty when we  feel enjoyment.  Bereaved Mom and Grief Counselor, Lynn Follett,  will lead us through what she calls  RETREATING FORWARD.   Her 26 year old son, Jeff, died in an automobile accident in 1998.  Although Lynn is a grief counselor and Jeff’s death was nearly 12 years ago (the day after Thanksgiving) it is a tragic wound that has continued to impact her life.    Lynn is the Bereavement Services Coordinator for The Holmes-Watkins Funeral Homes in Manchester, having managed STEPPING STONES bereavement services since its inception 15 years ago.  STEPPING STONES offers grief counseling and support groups for all losses at no charge to the Manchester and surrounding communities.

Lynn Shares her thoughts for the November Meeting:


 What could that possibly mean?  Well, sometimes it is necessary to pull back  and regroup  before you can make meaningful forward progress.

Think of our November 18, 2010 meeting as a mini retreat; a short time for regrouping, rethinking and communicating our needs as we enter the holiday season, thinking about going into the new year.

 We will take a sensitive look at our desires, our needs and the needs of others during this time as well as how to best make the ‘pilgrimage’ through this holiday season.

Only in the refreshing of our strength can we find the resources to move forward.

 Lynn Follett