It was a huge privilege to meet all of those parents who came to our weekend from 6-8 July for parents bereaved by suicide, addiction or substance use at the beautiful and peaceful venue of Woodbrooke in Birmingham. It was wonderful to see those who have been before and also meet the parents who joined us for the first time.
There was such an incredible atmosphere of warmth and support at the weekend. Our programme included a range of discussion groups on many aspects of bereavement, guest speakers, workshops, craft activities, and a candle lighting...plus plenty of time to talk, be together, and relax in the stunning gardens at Woodbrooke. (Some of us even managed to watch the England vs Sweden football World Cup quarter final!)
A huge thank you also to our guest volunteers at the weekend. Sangeeta Mahajan was our speaker on Saturday morning and in her honest, moving and inspiring address she told us about the loss of her son Saagar from suicide, what has helped her as she tries to cope without him, and the work she does now in prevention of young suicide.
Christina Thatcher also joined us to facilitate a brilliant creative writing workshop on Saturday afternoon, where parents were able to discover structures and techniques to express their feelings and emotions about their loss and to honour their beloved sons and daughters.
Next year's supportive weekend for parents bereaved by suicide, addiction or substance use is from 23-25 August 2019 at Woodbrooke.
The Compassionate Friends supportive magazine for bereaved parents - Compassion - is now out. Written by bereaved parents, for bereaved parents, the magazine is mailed to all donating members of our charity, together with our charity newsletter - TCF News.
The Compassionate Friends Garden in Perth, Scotland was unveiled at the recent Scottish Gathering - a supportive weekend for bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents. All at The Compassionate Friends are so grateful to Beautiful Perth for providing us a wonderfully tranquil and stunning garden to remember our precious sons and daughters. If you do go to Perth please take a visit - it is a lovely, really special place.
The whole weekend in Perth in April was about hope, warmth and togetherness. Two recently bereaved parents commented:
“Just a wee note as I’m now home, to say thanks again from the bottom of my heart for this weekend. The hard work that has gone into giving us all that amazing time is incredible. The little touches and the warm words made the weekend something I will never forget. “
“We really appreciate from everyone all the friendship, support and for us hope, that we will find our path on this journey like no other. The different tips and ideas from so many on what worked for them will be so helpful.”
Date for your diary: The next Scottish Gathering will be from 3-5 May 2019. More details to follow.
Adelle Brenner ran the London Marathon 2018 on 22 April in memory of her daughter, Celia and to fundraise for The Compassionate Friends. Here, Adelle writes movingly the day after about her inspirational run in the hottest Marathon ever in London and what it meant to her.
"What a day. Running the London Marathon for The Compassionate Friends was such an honour. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who have supported me and TCF in memory of your children. Your love and kind words helped me carry on when I doubted myself.
The hottest London marathon on record after training in the coldest winter was awesome and awful in almost equal measure but I’m hugely proud that I finished it. I had to stop for a cry and a few jelly babies at mile 17 and was looked after by a lovely medic but I carried on and finished in 5 hrs 59 minutes.
For a long time after we lost our daughter Celia at 3 years old, nearly 7 years ago, I couldn’t imagine feeling joy like I feel today. My world was turned upside down when she died suddenly in an accident. I questioned everything I had believed in. My assumptions of a future watching my children grow up healthy and happy as I grew older proved to be wrong. The confident, positive person I had been was lost too.
The weekend of 21/22 April saw 30 bereaved siblings gather together for The Compassionate Friends overnight retreat at Woodbrooke in Birmingham. We have had lots of wonderful feedback from the bereaved brothers and sisters who came to the retreat to be together, share their stories and find understanding and hope after the loss of sibling early in life. Often called 'the forgotten mourners', this weekend was a unique opportunity for these bereaved siblings to find support and speak with others who have experienced a similar traumatic loss.
We are hugely grateful to the Big Lottery Fund for funding the weekend and to the volunteers - bereaved siblings themselves - for organising this special supportive event.
Here's just some of the feedback we have received from the siblings that attended:
" This weekend has changed me as a person. I’ve met some of the bravest and most inspiring people I’ll ever meet. The people who understand the pain and heartbreak of losing a sibling, who are there to listen as well as share their sibling’s stories. These people I hope to continue to call friends. I can’t explain how amazing it is to talk to other people who have been through the same experience and won’t judge you because they understand everything you are saying". (G)