The Village Is Warm Blanket In The Cold – Not A Magic Wand

A bereaved Dad, who is a member of our local chapter, posted on his wall today, missing his son.
A very well meaning friend advised him to find a website or FB group for people who have lost a child. From the dialogue that ensued, I wondered if she thought it might help to “cure” his pain and bring him back to who he used-to-be ….

I have this “thing” about educating people about our realities of parental grief.

I offered the following post
(to which he replied, “What she said”):

“I am one of those people who is an administrator and moderator for several of the closed Facebook groups for parents who have had a child die.
I am also a founder and  leader of our local The Compassionate Friends  Chapter (world’s largest free peer-to-peer support organization for Bereaved Parents, Grandparents and Siblings)
My daughter was killed in 2008.  I have learned much about the grief of a parent since that ugly night.

All of the groups provide a safe outlet for us to put our emotions out there without having to feel the judgment of those who don’t walk our path.
They give us a safe place for us to vent and hurt and sometimes even laugh and learn from each other.

And what every single one of us longs for and what would really be the thing that helps, is to have our beloved child alive, happy, healthy and well.

We share tools of how we survive.
We let each other know that we are not crazy – we are grieving.
We share experiences and our commonality in grief.
And every single one of us just really wants our child to be alive, happy, healthy and well.

Finding our own foothold in this lifelong grief is nothing that happens in a year or 2 for even 3 or 4……
What the non-bereaved do not understand is that we are considered NEWLY BEREAVED for the first full 5 years and including the 6th anniversary.

There is nothing linear about our grief experiences or our grief pain.
We don’t start off at point A and then suddenly, slowly find that our lives become less painful or improve and then we are at point B.
It’s more like traveling on a rickety roller coaster in a dark funhouse with chainsaw wielding, ugly, sinister, psychotic clowns hidden around various turns, safety zones and popping out at us when we least want them to.

Our lives become more like walking on a tightrope over a pit of really, really hungry gators. We try to keep our balance knowing that it’s possible that any second we can easily stumble and find ourselves in pain that we don’t know how we survive. We can be proceeding steadily and then a little tiny thing throws off the balance and we are falling.
It is a constant struggle to try to bring balance to knowing that we love living people and are loved by living people AND
we ache for, long for, miss can’t stop hurting for our deceased child.

While the rest of the world gets to go on as if nothing has changed, everything in our world has changed.
We could never go back to who we were Before.
Our lives will never be as they once were.
We will never be who we were.

While the rest of the world can go on laughing, unencumbered, and feeling joy, we experience guilt for our moments of happiness, for a Very, very, very, very, very long time. We might laugh and then suddenly feel as if our heart stopped, because “how can we dare laugh or feel good, when our child is dead?!”

And then when we mature to a point where we can allow for the happy moments and happy times, there is still, always, a void present.

For a very, very long time, we understand that we don’t look for “things to get better” because the only thing that would be” better” is to have our child alive, happy, healthy and well. For a very, very long time, all we can do is look for moments of “being less horrible”.

It isn’t that we don’t love others and and isn’t that we aren’t loved by others.
It is naturally appropriate for our emotions to gravitate to our child who is no longer alive and experiencing our lives with us.

We live in pain that we never knew that it was possible to experience and still survive.

And eventually each of us comes to a point where we make a decision, whether conscious or not, to become Intentional Survivors rather than Collateral Victims of our child’s death.

We were discussing in our The Compassionate Friends in person chapter meeting one day about whether or not attending the meetings help when what all of us really know is that the only thing that “really” helps would be to have our child alive, happy, healthy and well. One of our dads said that he doesn’t know what “help” means…. what he does understand is that it’s worse not to go.

That becomes the balance of our lives for a very long time.
We don’t necessarily think in terms of “Good”.
We think of terms of “less horrible” and “less painful” because we come to understand that our lives will always have the pain of missing our loved child.

Like anything, belonging to supportive groups where others understand, Is very validating and probably is better than not.
The truth is, though, that it does not change our reality. There is no magic wand.
We will exist in the most horrible, most eviscerating pain of our lives, for as long as we do.
And Eventually, we learn how to apply tools that are appropriate for us at that moment.
Eventually, we can find ways to bring balance to existing in a world in which our deceased child is not physically present
AND
having good, strong, happy moments of life; even though they are not here.

Eventually, we can move through the feeling that our lives have ended.

The groups, and the meetings and all of the support can help us find ways to do that.

The groups help us learn that we are not alone and can expose us to some extremely valuable tools….

And the working our way through, to not hating our lives, will be the hardest, hardest, hardest part of our lives that we will ever know. 
And we CAN get there. 

A SEA OF LIGHT IN MEMORY OF OUR LOVED ONES December 10, 2017

Great Apologies that it became necessary to cancel this anticipated event.
for additional listing of other local candle lightings, please check
https://www.compassionatefriends.org/wcl/

WORLDWIDE CANDLE LIGHTING VIRTUAL MEMORIAL WALL

In honor of our 21st Annual Worldwide Candle Lighting share a message to our memorial wall in memory of your child, grandchild, or sibling.
Sharing to the memorial wall will be available until Wednesday 6:00 pm (EST), December 13th.
The memorial wall will remain on our website until Summer of 2018 at
https://www.compassionatefriends.org/wcl/memorial-wall/

 

Please Register Using Form Below

PLEASE CLICK TO VIEW THE 
WHAT ♥ WHY ♥ WHEN ♥ WHO ♥ WHERE
WHAT TO BRING ♥ WHAT TO WEAR ♥ HOW TO REGISTER
.pdf

Thank you
,
Lisa Cortese, Cristina’s mom 
for hosting host our gathering, through the generosity of her mom, Norah Gadomski,
in Memory of Cristina Marie Cortes and Bernie Gadomski
57 1/2 Elm Street Rockville, CT
located close to the corner near Rockville General Hospital
and the huge stone Congregational Church.
Mrs. Gadomski’s private home  is located behind
“NORAH’S PLACE”
(A Residential Care Home and Assisted Living),
NORAH’S PLACE is a beautiful Victorian yellow house.
with a ‘statue’ of a horse and buggy in front.

All chapter members, their families and friends are invited to attend.
Unlike our meetings, we do not limit age.
If you have a young one who you feel could participate, they, too, are welcomed.
Also welcome are any bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings
who may have never attended or can not attend a TCF EOTR CT Chapter meeting,
but would like to become part of the gathering.

Those attending our chapter’s candle lighting are asked to bring an item or two to contribute to our Pot Luck Supper, Snacks and Desserts.
We will be running a slide show presentation of all of our  loved ones.
Photos can be submitted electronically by emailing them to Bettie-Jeanne at  TCFEastOfTheRiverCT@gmail.com before midnight December 7.
If you’d like, share a few words about your child’s  or sibling’ life; their likes or dislikes, what made them laugh, what made them special.
If you have a poem or reading that you would like to contribute, please email also (or bring it with you).

This is NOT a Holiday Party ~ But there will be  holiday decorations.
It is an informal, caring gathering,  of “like-hearted” families who understand the challenges faced not only at this time of year, but all the days of our lives.

 An RSVP is appreciated via the form below
Questions?  email   Bettie-Jeanne at
TCFEastOfTheRiverCT@gmail.com
or  leave a voice message or  leave a voice message at 860-375-EØTR (3087)

 

please list the name of the person being remembered with the name of the person attending & relationship in ( parentheses) For example: Robyn (Janet & Ted Flanagin, Robbie's aunt and uncle)
We are planning a pot luck dinner before the candle lighting with desserts and snacks after the candle lighting. Entries, Appetizers, Desserts, Salads, Beverages are all appreciated, but are not necessary to be able to attend.
Sending

WHY ATTEND?

I don’t have words to describe the emotion that enveloped me at all of our at The Compassionate Friends National Conferences.
Each time, there I stood, shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart with 1,500+ other bereaved moms, dads, and siblings.
Each year, in a light originating from a single flame, until the glow enveloped the hall, we lit candles, one from the other, in memory of our loved ones.
As the flame was passed, we were recipients of the gift of the child’s name who brought light to our dark candle.
Then Jim and I proudly spoke our RobynApril’s name as we gave light to the candle next to us, and heard, in return, their own beloved one’s name. 

I have lit candles at home for our daughter and taken comfort from the connection that was felt.
But there was something deeper, more meaningful, when I stood among others who knew my heartache because of  living their own.
At that moment,  eyes locked, Jim and I reached for each other’s hands
below the glow of the lights, and without a word exchanged, we felt deeply connected in the moment.
We were Robyn’s parents, together; each living the experience of her death alone, and yet sharing the deep loss, together, as her family.
Sharing a Candle Lighting with other bereaved parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, family is Profound, Intimate, Important.
For the past 21 years, The Compassionate Friends has hosted a Worldwide Candle Lighting that reaches across the globe like a sea of brightness,
uniting family and friends who light candles for one hour to honor to remember children who have died from any cause,
at any age from pre-birth to full maturity.
As candles burn down in one time zone, they are then lit in the next, creating a virtual 24-hour wave of light
as the observance continues around the world.
To provide for intimacy and a “homey” atmosphere,
our TCF East Of the River CT Chapter chooses to join the world’s largest candle lighting at the private home of one of members.
This year we thank Cristina’s mom and grandmom for hosting this very special gathering.♥

More information about The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting Event can be found on our own website at
December 10, 2017 TCF East Of The River CT Candle Lighting
Honoring Our Loved Ones
A list of other Connecticut and other Candle Lighting events,
including the on-line virtual candle lighting
and signing of the  Remembrance Book,
can be found on the National Website under
News and Events /Worldwide Candle Lighting.

A SEA OF LIGHT IN MEMORY OF OUR CHILDREN December 08, 2013

Please Register Using Form Below

WorldWide Candlelighting 2013

Thank you
Ken and Arlene
 Dworetsky,
Daniel’s parents,
For sharing your home
63 Long Hill Drive
Glastonbury, CT

All chapter members, their families and friends are invited to attend.  Unlike our meetings, we do not limit age.  If you have a young one who you feel could participate, they, too, are welcomed.  Also welcome are any bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings who may have never attended or can not attend a TCF EOTR CT Chapter meeting, but would like to become part of the gathering. Those attending our chapter’s candle lighting are asked to bring an item or two to contribute to our Pot Luck Supper, Snacks and Desserts.  We will be running a slide show presentation of all of our ‘children’.  Photos can be submitted electronically by emailing them to Bettie-Jeanne at  TCFEastOfTheRiverCT@gmail.com before midnight December 7.
If you’d like, share a few words about your child’s  or sibling’ life; their likes or dislikes, what made them laugh, what made them special.  If you have a poem or reading that you would like to contribute, please email also (or bring it with you).
This is NOT a Holiday Party ~ There will be no holiday decorations.
It is an informal, caring gathering, rather like our Vernon Diner Breakfasts and After Meeting Get-togethers of “like-hearted” families who understand the challenges faced not only at this time of year, but all the days of our lives.

 An RSVP is appreciated via the form below Questions?  email   Bettie-Jeanne at TCFEastOfTheRiverCT@gmail.com or  leave a voice message or  leave a voice message at 860-375-EØTR (3087)

 

please list the name of the person being remembered with the name of the person attending & relationship in ( parentheses) For example: Robyn (Janet & Ted Flanagin, Robbie's aunt and uncle)
We are planning a pot luck dinner before the candle lighting with desserts and snacks after the candle lighting. Entries, Appetizers, Desserts, Salads, Beverages are all appreciated, but are not necessary to be able to attend.
Sending

WHY ATTEND?

I don’t have words to describe the emotion that enveloped me these past four summers at The Compassionate Friends National Conferences.  Each time, there I stood, shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart with 1,500+ other bereaved moms, dads, and siblings.  The first three years, in a light originating from a single flame, until the glow enveloped the hall, we lit candles, one from the other, in memory of our loved ones.  As the flame was passed, we were recipients of the gift of the child’s name who brought light to our dark candle.  Then Jim and I proudly spoke our RobynApril’s name as we gave light to the candle next to us, and heard, in return, their own beloved one’s name. (this year because of restrictions at the hotel in Boston, we were not allowed to light open flames and instead used battery operated candles.  It was still symbolic and nice, but didn’t have the same impact as the burning flames of the lit candles.)

I have lit candles at home for our daughter and taken comfort from the connection that was felt.  But there was something deeper, more meaningful, when I stood among others who knew my heartache because of  living their own.
At that moment,  eyes locked, Jim and I reached for each other’s hands
below the glow of the lights, and without a word exchanged, we felt deeply connected in the moment.  We were Robyn’s parents, together; each living the experience of her death alone, and yet sharing the deep loss, together, as her family. Sharing a Candle Lighting with other bereaved parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, family is Profound, Intimate, Important.  For the past 17 years, The Compassionate Friends has hosted a Worldwide Candle Lighting that reaches across the globe like a sea of brightness, uniting family and friends who light candles for one hour to honor to remember children who have died from any cause, at any age from pre-birth to full maturity.  As candles burn down in one time zone, they are then lit in the next, creating a virtual 24-hour wave of light as the observance continues around the world. To provide for intimacy and a “homey” atmosphere,  our TCF East Of the River CT Chapter chooses to join the world’s largest candle lighting at the private home of one of members.
This year we thank Ken and Arlene, Daniel’s mom and dad, for sharing their home.♥

More information about The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting Event can be found on our own website at
http://www.tcfeastoftheriver.org/candlelighting2013/ ‎
Worldwide Candle Lighting December 08, 2013 Honors Our ‘Children’
A list of other Connecticut and other Candle Lighting events, including the on-line virtual candle lighting and signing of the 2013 Remembrance Book,  can be found on the National Website under
News and Events /Worldwide Candle Lighting.♥