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

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

 

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