Helping Others In The Darkest Time of Their Lives

4 June 2015
PLEASE HELP BY MAKING EVEN A TINY DONATION

robyn Purple Framebpink roses - 1rpyH-17D - printI have become a Proactive Griever.
Don’t misunderstand, I have plenty of happier moments, now,
BUT
I have not stopped missing my daughter.
I have not stopped wishing that she were still living, breathing and having earth plane life, with me….
AND
Being a Bereaved Mom STILL Sucks!

I NEVER expected to be able to go on 6 minutes, 6 days, 6 weeks, 6 months without having a living Robbie by my side.
And, now, here I am 6 years later,
not only still alive, but, every day, supporting and caring for other bereaved parents who haven’t yet
gotten to this place where THE LOVE out shadows
THE DEATH.

The Compassionate Friends
is what has helped me to become
AN INTENTIONAL SURVIVOR
of my Daughter’s Death
rather than succumb to becoming
A COLLATERAL VICTIM.
(thank you, Mitch Carmody, Kelly’s Dad,  and Alan Pedersen, Ashley’s Dad, for introducing me to that concept).

Now through TCF,
I not only strive to help myself, but to reach out to other bereaved families and support them,
in the same way that I have found compassion and understanding within our Chapter walls.

Every day, I try to be there for other bereaved family members,
to give a hand, a hug, love, caring and support.
To be there AS LONG AS IT TAKES
for the rawness of the worse pain ever known to a parent or grandparent
(and some of the worst for any sibling)
to finally be nudged out of the way by LOVE
(and finally for some, HOPE).

I do this, all,
IN HONOR OF MY DAUGHTER,  ROBYNAPRIL.

It is through the friendship, understanding, and hope provided by
The Compassionate Friends
that I am able to keep working surviving this most terrible of nightmares.
I am asking for a small tax deductible contribution to help me keep our TCF Chapter running.

I am asking for your help.
We need financial donations in order to keep our
The Compassionate Friends
East Of The River CT  Chapter
Going.
Every penny I, and other chapter members, help to raise
GOES DIRECTLY to keeping the chapter up and running to care for other bereaved families.

http://tinyurl.com/RememberRobyn2015

Every ounce of my efforts is because
I Want,
I Need
To Do GOOD WORKS
in Robbie’s Memory.

If you have ever cared about me,
or care about Robbie,
PLEASE
Don’t Let Robyn Be Forgotten!
Don’t Let The Children Of Our Chapter BE FORGOTTEN!
Collage Robyn
I can’t say it any more plainly that that.
I never expected to be without Robbie and every day it still hurts.
Every day I still wish it were different.
6 years later and  I am still struggle to accept our REALITY that Robbie will only dance next to me in spirit now.
I am in a different place than I have been, but “finding my footing” and regaining an enjoyment of living is very slow going.
Nothing in life prepared me for the Death Of My Daughter and it has dramatically changed who I used to be.

Every 29 seconds a family somewhere in the United States will experience the death of a child.
NO ONE IS IMMUNE.
I know this heartbreak all too well since my RobynApril left the earth plane December 4, 2008….the day that every thing changed for our family.

Every month The Compassionate Friends,
through its 650+ chapters and the National Organization,
provides bereavement support to tens of thousands of families like ours.
Jim and I began the East Of The River CT Chapter
so that we could reach out to help other families enduring their own nightmares.

I know that money is really tight all the way around these days.
I haven’t been able to work since Robbie’s death and every penny counts.
Jim has had, now, 5 heart attacks that prevent him from being a wage earner.  (and being 71 doesn’t really help either!)
We truly understand a really tight budget.
Your financial support doesn’t need to be huge.
Little bits can add up.
The minimum that the on-line Friends Helping Friends TCFWalkToRemember.org site accepts is $5.00
….and even that helps me feel as if you care; and that Robbie isn’t forgotten, that she still matters.

The WALK TO REMEMBER is how we raise funds for our East of the River Chapter,
allowing us to reach out and support others in need.
100% of every donation made on line makes it directly to our The Compassionate Friends East Of The River CT Chapter.

I can’t imagine how it would have been if right after Robyn’s death I had no one to turn to at all…
…no one who “got it”
and who could just be there to help me through that most awful beginning
…and still remains to help now….
TCF has become a caring family and a safe place.

By supporting us during The Walk to Remember fundraising drive,
you will be helping Our TCF East Of The River CT Chapter to raise money
to continue to meet and to expand vital programs and outreach to bereaved families in our area.
You’ll be helping us to help others
IN PAIN,
CONFUSION,
ANGER,
and HURT
who desperately need a little light brought to their darkness to survive the worst tragedy of their lives.

TCF NEVER charges for any services, but we need funds to keep going.

SPONSORING IS SIMPLE
MAKING A DONATION IS SIMPLE
JOINING OUR FUND-RAISING TEAM IS VERY MUCH WELCOMED
http://tinyurl.com/RememberRobyn2015

—just use the link and follow the prompts.
Thank you for helping me to honor the memory of my daughter, RobynApril.
Thank you for honor the memory of all of our Chapter Children.
Thank you for helping to keep them all alive in our hearts.

PS
Please consider joining our VIRTUAL WALK team.
Then, you can use the site to safely AND NON-INVASIVELY email
your family and friends,
inviting them to do a GOOD WORK
of making a tax-deductible donation, too–

And, if you are able, please JOIN OUR FREE DAY OF COMMUNITY & CARING
www.WalkToRememberCT.org

Hugs, love and Light to all,
~Bettie-Jeanne,
Forever Robbie’s mom
f tearchild hand butterfly

 

Bereaved Parents Join Together

 

BEREAVED PARENT, SIBLINGS, GRANDPARENTS, FAMILY AND FRIENDS
are all invited to join us on

THE THIRD ANNUAL STATEWIDE WALK TO REMEMBER ~
DAY OF COMMUNITY AND CARING

Sunday July 21
Center Springs Park
Manchester, CT
pre-registration requested

WHERE EVERY DECEASED CHILD IS REMEMBERED AND HONORED

Highlights from our
First CT STATEWIDE WALK TO REMEMBER -2011

A Changed Life After First National The Compassionate Friends Conference

I am taking a look back with this reprinted article, circa July 2010,  remembering why I keep going to the National TCF Conferences, and how this First One, and the friends and relationships I made there,  helped to save my life….

July 2010
My First National Compassionate Friends Conference

This was a really different month for Jim and I.

July began with our attendance at our first (but certainly not our last!) The Compassionate Friends National Conference in Arlington, VA.  In the nineteen months since Robbie left the earth plane, this was the singular most important thing that we have done for ourselves and for the memory of our beloved daughter.

Our first night there we attended a sharing session, attended by Facebook Friends.  By the time we left the session we had not only put names to faces, heard stories that touched our hearts, but made many, many new friends.  Most of those in the session were first time conference attendees, noted by the butterflies on our badges.  Any time someone further on in their bereavement noticed a butterfly badge, a hug and gentle words of compassion were offered.  There were many hugs shared that evening  (and many,. many more throughout the entire conference).  And even though this was only the first session of the conference, we realized 15 minutes into it that we would be back for next year’s event.  I knew it as soon as one of the Dads shared one of the reasons why he, his wife, and remaining children attend the conference every year.  He said that it was the closest he could ever come again to taking a vacation with his child…that this was a place where his son was with them all the time; that they not only could talk about him, but others wanted to hear about him, others wanted to share his life; it was where he could always be present and was part of everything they did over the weekend….LIKE BEING ON VACATION WITH HIS CHILD.  Jim and I squeezed hands and shared a wistful look.  We knew that we wanted this for us.  We look forward to next year’s National Conference as “Our Time With Robyn”.

I shed a Good Amount of tears at the conference.  Certain words spoken in workshops triggered memories and emotions….Talking about Robyn and sharing her life ~ and her death ~ is still very tender.  Sometimes I found myself feeling very much at peace, and then it would hit me why I was there.  Triggered by the workshop format, I would fall back into my memories of all of the dance events and workshops that Robbie and I had gone away for together and it would suddenly strike me that it would never be again.  And then I would remember what the dad had said that first night about how this was the place that their child could always be with them.

I talked about Robbie a lot, especially to several of the presenters with whom I bonded….and something began to happen differently….I began to see MORE TREES and much less bark…and the bark that I saw wasn’t as much Bark.  (see April 2010 issue The Bark And The Trees).  I was surrounded by 1,500 other people who understood my pain, my grief, my aching to have my child back ~ and that, in itself, was profoundly comforting.

At times it was beyond my comprehension as I looked around at so many, many families affected by the loss of their child, their grandchild or their sibling.  The amount of names carried during THE WALK TO REMEMBER was overwhelming, as were the amount of people, nearly all wearing the logo-ed white and red tee shirts, many adorned with photos of their beloved child gone too soon.  And though the walk was a time of reverence, it was not, like the entire conference had been before it, a time of depression.  There were smiles and stories and laughter.  Some skipped off track for a “quickie” at STARBUCKS or COLD STONE CREAMERY.  I kept taking photo after photo, daunted by the site of so, so many people who had lost children, yet knew statistically that we represented only a very tiny portion of bereaved families.

One of the strangest moments during The Conference was when Jim and I were telling another parent that it had been 18 months since Robyn’s leaving of the earth plane…and then I suddenly realized that it actually was 19 months on July 4, the final day of The Conference.  When had I stopped being aware of how many days it was?  Was that Good?  Was it Forgetting Robyn?  Was it Healthier?  I finally decided that I didn’t need to define it.  It JUST IS.  By the end of July I was very well aware that it was 19 months, 3 weeks and 6 days, but not without some aid of the calendar.

Leaving the Conference was very, very hard.  For 5 days we had been surrounded with Compassionate, Understanding New Friends, where hugs and warmth flowed freely; where we didn’t have to explain to others how “hard it is”; where it was OK to cry, to grieve, to hurt, to be angry, to be sad….and TO HOPE.

One of the most surprising moments of The Conference, for me, was when one of the speakers noted that years now after the death of her sister and her two children that she was actually in a better, happier, healthier place then she was before those tragedies.  Instead of being sentenced to a dismal existence of horrible grief for the rest of her life, her journey had taken her to a place of intense self growth and she had ended up a more alive, happier person that she ever had been.  It was an intensely brave thing to admit.   HOPE was the constant theme throughout the weekend.

Leaving the safety of that warm cocoon and heading back to Reality and to THE CIVILIAN WORLD was not an easy thing for many of us.  To go from a Place of Understanding back to The Land Where People don’t “Know” and can’t relate, nor do they want to, is very, very hard.

Luckily, Jim and I had two sets of different friends in Virginia who we spent the next 10 days with.  Neither set “understood”.  One never had children and the other has three healthy little ones.  But both sets of friends love us and cared about us and gave us safe place to begin to “de-grief”.    (I’ve already been approached about possibly leading a session at next year’s conference  on “De-griefing, Decompressing, and Entering Back into the Civilian World”)

I “fell apart”, sobbing, several times at their homes and one night just sat at the computer, typing

“SCREAM SCREAM SCREAM SCREAM SCREAM”

into my Facebook Status line because the pain of missing Robyn was so great.  Other times, especially at the friend’s home who had “grown up” with Robbie during their teenaged years together, I shared Robyn stories, laughter with gentle, happy, fond memories.  There is an ebb and a flow as I begin to move into the New Normal, which can’t be avoided.  It Just Is.

It’s been a really different month.

I found myself helping and comforting a lot of people this month.  The badges at the Conference made it easy for us to reach out to “first timers”, too, and whenever Jim and I saw someone alone, we would extend a hand of friendship and comfort and invite them to join us.  We met some really amazing people and have begun new relationships that I expect to last far, far, far into our future.  (That’s another difference this month…I am recognizing that there IS FUTURE…)

Sometimes I gave more to others than I needed myself.  Other times I turned to others, heavily,  for strength and understanding. Parts of me that I thought were going to be buried forever, if not long gone, are slowly resurfacing.  And yet, I still find time where I just can’t function; where missing her is overwhelming….Sometimes, it is more ache, and less feeling totally fractured.  I can honestly say that I think, besides the passing of days and the baby steps that I have been forced to take, The Conference has made a very big difference in where I am in my journey….and The Music was part of that…something very different this month.

Something clicked differently in me as I listened to one of Alan Pedersen’s songs….  It was the song DADDY SMILE, written by Alan, through the eyes of his beloved and very greatly missed daughter, Ashley.  As I listened to him sing, I was certain that Robbie had reached into his heart, using his voice, his words to send me this message….

 “ I sat here in my easy chair 
the other night
like so many times before
staring at her picture
Feeling sorry for myself again
thinking about how hard life’s been
And how much I miss her
All of the sudden
it was almost like a dream
She stepped out of that picture frame
and sat right next to me
She said “ [Mom], I think it’s time
we had a little conversation ~
~  a heart to heart ~
~  just a you and me ~
[Mommie], every day I look at you
And what do I see?
You’re crying
when you’re looking back at me.
That was O.K. for a while,
but you know, [Mommie],
I miss your smile. “    

 I am beginning to realize that it has been a really different month, because I am becoming a very different me.

I can’t thank The National Compassionate Friends Conference enough for bringing new important people and relationships into my life and for bringing other emotions, besides pain, back into my life.  ♥

¯ Words and Music by Alan Pedersen
Copyright Ever Ashley Music
Reprinted with permission

DADDY SMILE words and music by Alan Pedersen – used with permission

Alan and Bettie-Jeanne