Review by Lisa Mayland
On Tuesday 16th February TCF members assembled online to hear Sangeeta Mahajan's second talk entitled My Champion, Me. Let's Talk Self-Compassion. Hosted by The Compassionate Friends, Sangeeta spoke about her personal grief journey and her amazing serenity and calm wisdom were instantly evident. How can it be only six years since she lost her beloved 20 -year- old son Saagar to suicide?
Describing the horrific and cataclysmic shock of losing her son she spoke of how instantly everything that she was and had been came into question. Her role as mother, doctor, friend, wife was now utterly threatened. The guilt and self-recrimination were total, not just things she perceived herself to have not done before Saagar's suicide but indeed every decision she had made about him since he was born. It did not matter that others were trying to comfort and support her, she thought it was all her fault, and, as she said "You are always with yourself" 24 hours a day and the self-torture is unremitting. I think this resonated with many of the audience who commented that they are still struggling with this guilt many years on.
Gradually Sangeeta began to be aware of the difference between her attitude to herself, and that shown by others to her. She saw that the compassion shown by others constituted a sensitivity to others' feelings and a commitment to doing something to deviate another's suffering. She realised that her recovery depended on being able to do this to herself. She began asking herself "Am I a friend to me?".
She gave us a practical exercise to do, describing a time when she had left her house unlocked and she had arrived back to find thousands of pounds worth of belongings had been stolen. Firstly she asked us to write down what we would have said to Sangeeta, and everyone replied with positive and supportive comments. She then asked us to write down what we would have said to ourselves if it happened to us. It was astounding how critical, dismissive and unkind we were. What a powerful way of exposing our inner critical voice!
Sangeeta quoted the Buddha's saying that when we suffer misfortune two arrows fly our way. The first, the actual event, hits us without warning and we are unable to avoid it. The second arrow is more insidious, it is the self-torture and blame we mete out to ourselves because of the first arrow. We do not have to accept the second arrow because this time we have a choice. She says that there are three pillars of Self Compassion that can help us to deflect the second arrow, these being the very framework of our recovery and journey to peace. This resonated so clearly for me and it felt almost joyful to hear them described:
A new book has just been published with contributions from many members of The Compassionate Friends.
Legacies of Grief, edited by Freddie Bagley, is a book offering hope to bereaved families. The reader will find here not only an insight into the devastation brought by the loss of a precious child, but many stories of hope and light. These are demonstrated in the form of inspiring and heartfelt legacies created in memory of a child that has died.
Available from Amazon and Waterstones. If you are purchasing through Amazon please use Amazonsmile and choose The Compassionate Friends as your charity. Thank you.
All proceeds to The Compassionate Friends and Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY)
The Compassionate Friends UK have a YouTube channel!
You can view, watch and listen again to our autumn series of talks, the beautiful candle lighting event last month, our short film, Say Their Name, and much more on the channel.
We will continue to add to the content there too, so do subscribe and you will be alerted when a new video is posted.
The Compassionate Friends, UK Worldwide Candle Lighting on 13 December 2020 is available to view on YouTube on The Compassionate Friends UK channel. If you weren't able to be at this special event of remembrance and light last Sunday or would like to view this wonderfully connecting evening together again then please click on the image above.
Throughout December, you can post a message of remembrance in our 2020 Book for your son or daughter, brother or sister, or grandchild. You can also include a photograph with your message if you wish.
There are so many beautiful faces remembered in our Book of Remembrance. You might like to just read about all these special sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters, r perhaps add a photo and dedication yourself to your loved one.
We will be thinking about each and every special person in the Book throughout December and the winter holidays and at our Candle Lighting on Sunday 13 December at 7 pm
(If you don't upload a photograph a picture of a candle will accompany your message).