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Hope of finding the mourning light through the mist of grief

Andrea Corrie, author of Into The Mourning Light, and also Living In The Mourning Light, spoke to a full house at a gathering of bereaved parents online on the evening of the 11th of November 2020.

It is a profound thing for bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings to be able to hear the thoughts and experiences of others who have passed through this kind of bereavement themselves, and have been able to use that experience to help others.

In Andrea's case, she has written the books and also continues to help others by her talks. She spoke honestly about the pain that she still feels when recounting the circumstances of the death of her son James by drowning in 2005.

She does not blur the edges of passing through that experience, but speaks frankly about the intensity of the journey, but also of the hope of finding the "mourning light".

Andrea spoke about the toolbox which can be helpful on that journey, especially in the early days and about the need to hear of other's journeys, and the self help of endorphin releasing exercise and the healing practices of creativity in its many forms, and in her particular case, in writing.

Listen to Andrea Corrie's talk hosted by The Compassionate Friends or click on the image below.

Grenades and Guillotines with Cathy Rentzenbrink

Over 130 bereaved parents and siblings joined us online on the evening of 13th October 2020 to hear author Cathy Rentzenbrink speak movingly and with huge honesty about the unpredictability of grief and the impact the early loss of her brother Matty had on her life and her family.

LISTEN TO CATHY'S TALK HERE or click image below.

Bereaved siblings, Hayley and Lily were at Cathy's talk and have reviewed the evening.

Read Hayley's review here.

Read Lily's words here.


Bereaved mum, Shirley, also listened to Cathy and has shared her reflections with us.

“There is a life out there for you”.

These are the words that stayed with me after Cathy’s talk. They are the words that she would go back and tell her younger self after the death of her brother Matty following a car accident when she was 17. She wouldn’t want to try to fool herself and say that none of it matters but she would want her to know that, in the future, she would be glad to be alive.

Matty was in a coma for eight years, and in the space between him living and dying, Cathy still had a role; she was still a sister. She had loved being a sister and, after Matty died, she wasn’t any more. Cathy felt that her family had functioned like a car with four wheels, and then one of the wheels came off and left them struggling down the road. The family were in balance when Matty was here because he was `her’ person and then she was on her own in the back of the car.

When a tragedy like this happens, the grenades mentioned in Cathy’s title explode and `take someone out’ and the shrapnel hurts everyone else, so we become the walking wounded. The guillotine refers to a memory from her school days, when the sharp blade would come down and slice the paper in two – now the blade is the harsh reality that separates our old life from the new.

A Good Mourning

Thank you to the wonderful Maria Ahern for her wise, honest, moving and inspiring words on Wednesday evening. Maria shared with over 150 bereaved parents and family members her personal perspectives and reflections since the loss of her only child, her son James, and how she has found ways to have a 'good mourning'. Thank you to everyone who attended. It was wonderful to see you all. Some feedback from Maria's talk is below.


‘Look up.
Blink. Breathe. Repeat.
And then, not just a Good Mourning, you’ll have had a Good Day.’
(Maria Ahern - from Maggie Pinsent's report below)

Read Maggie's review of Maria's talk here


"Maria saw that she needed to survive positively and chose to survive by co-existing with James and Grief in a Good Mourning. “U” are central in the Mo”u”rning and you need to find your own equilibrium". Judith Pinfold

Read Judith's review of Maria's talk here

"A big thank you TCF and the inspirational Maria Ahern. It broke my heart to see you this evening and to hear you describe your beautiful boy, James, and how life with him was a dance. And then it all ended so abruptly 6 years and 2 weeks ago. 3 years and 6 months on this journey that too started with a bend in the road, I feel so far from where you are now, all while knowing you were where I am and still are at times. And yet not only do you have a good mourning but even manage good days. I also learnt tonight that it's about taking baby steps; and that's ok. And that it's ok to trip and fall at times. Because after all, it's our children we're talking about. And then the conversations with James; how wonderful. I can't wait to start mine with Cleo. Because life without her is just so silent." Hebatallah

"I thought Maria's talk was wonderful. I laughed..and cried and learnt so much and I know that so many there felt the same. We all breathed in and out together knowing we share the pain and the love". Sharon

Maria's conversations with James on Facebook are here

More about The James Ahern Foundation


Our next guest for our online series of talks is author, Cathy Rentzenbrink, on 13 October at 7 pm. Find out more and register here.

Trustee Election 2020

Do you have passion, skills and expertise that could help The Compassionate Friends (TCF) to continue to improve and develop in the coming years? The voluntary role of Trustee with our charity is both rewarding and fulfilling and our currentBoard of Trustees would like to invite interested applicants to apply to help run our charitable organisation which offers peer support, understanding and hope to bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents. In November 2020 there will be 6 vacancies for elected Trustees on our Board.

The Board would be particularly assisted by individuals with skills and experience in areas such as but not limited to

* Human Resources

* Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

* Communications/Marketing

* Experience of Health Service/Mental Health Services

* Digital Marketing/Social Media

* Training and Events Management

We are highly committed to widening the diversity of the Board and warmly encourage applications from a broad and deep range of backgrounds and experiences.

Personal Reflections on Finding Meaning

Bereaved mother and Compassionate Friends Grief Companion Coordinator, Shirley Gower, offers her personal reflections on TCF's online event held in early August with inspiring guest speaker, Dr Sangeeta Majahan. Over 170 attended to listen to Sangeeta's honest, moving and helpful talk on Finding Meaning After Loss.

Listen to Finding Meaning After Loss here

(please note that we were unable to record the first 10 minutes of Sangeeta's talk).

"There were so many beautiful thoughts in Sangeeta’s presentation, that I would recommend you seek out the video recording and let them all wash over you. The reactions from the watching audience were coming in waves as each person responded individually to an image or thought that resonated with them personally.

Sangeeta talked of saying yes to life, in defiance of what that life has thrown at you. Like a shoot growing from a felled tree, it is in our nature to reach for the sun and the light. There are so many lessons to be learnt from nature. We can try to catch a butterfly, only to have it fly away. Yet if we just stand still, and focus on something else that makes us happy, the butterfly will come and land on our shoulder. I loved the idea that, while sunflowers turn to follow the sun, in its absence they turn to face each other. What a wonderful reminder of the essence of The Compassionate Friends and the way we reach out to other bereaved parents, when it feels like our light has gone out.

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