A hugely powerful piece by Thomas Harding on the death of his son Kadian at the age of 14 – and what he would say to his seven-year-younger self. This article is taken from a speech given to The Compassionate Friends 50th Anniversary Gathering of bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents last November.
Maria Ahern, Chair of Trustees of The Compassionate Friends, reviews the weekend of 1-3 November 2019 when 250 ‘compassionate friends’ gathered in the Buckinghamshire countryside to commemorate our charity’s Golden Jubilee year.
"Since we have just received a preview of the photographs of the 50th Anniversary Gathering, we thought that we would give you a whistle stop guide to the event and the programme. This is just a taster to go with the photographs which you can view in the Gallery on this page and I’m sure that we will be talking about it again in the New Year with a possible commemorative book to record the event.
So, what did we all get up to nestled in that sprawling hotel in the Buckinghamshire countryside?
Some of you will know that this event was two years in the planning. The Gathering Committee, the Board of Trustees, staff and volunteers along with the help of Gill Hardy’s colleagues who came to provide professional support, formed a dedicated team ready to meet any challenge. We planned and re-planned and thought and re-thought until we were confident that we had covered every base. Well, almost!
Many of our attendees were collected from the train station by Gary Thompson – who offered a wonderful shuttle service in a minibus provided by Ford Motor Co. On arrival, delegates were given their delegate bags containing some souvenir keepsakes of the event with our commemorative logo. The programme contained a floor plan of the hotel, which was much needed as every possible space of the building had been allocated for the use of workshops, sharing sessions, speakers, food and of course the bar. We didn’t leave an inch of the hotel unused which proved a bit of a challenge on the first evening given the unexpected turn of events. But challenges are meant to be overcome aren’t they?
"Don’t honestly know what I would do without this wonderful charity. They have kept me sane. They have kept me able to get up in the morning and given me a place where I can drop my mask and say things as they really are and the people there just get it. You are and have been my lifeline”.
Just published - new Impact Report and Annual Review. Read about the work of The Compassionate Friends in the UK and the difference our charity can make to grieving families.
Hayley, editor of SIBBS Newsletter writes...
We're excited to bring you the first fully digital issue of SIBBS - the newsletter from The Compassionate Friends especially for bereaved siblings.
Moving SIBBS online will help us to reach each and every bereaved sibling who has made contact with The Compassionate Friends. Our new digital format will also improve how we can share links and resources, and we hope it will help build and nurture our sibling community.
This publication is sent to bereaved siblings who have been in contact with us by email every quarter and also to parents to forward to their surviving children if they wish. If you would like to receive SIBBS regularly by email please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and request to go onto our e-mailing list.
Note to siblings: SIBBS is your newsletter, and we love to hear from you. Please feel free to get in touch at email@example.com with feedback on the new format and/or suggestions for what you’d like to see in future editions. Contributions are always warmly welcomed, so please do get in touch if you’d like to share anything related to your grief journey.
As members of The Compassionate Friends, we know first-hand the agony of child bereavement, as we are bereaved parents or close family members of a child who has died. We are each unique in our own ways, with our own families, backgrounds, circumstances, religions and cultures, but one thing we have in common is the desire to honour our child or sibling’s memory. We are pleased and proud to announce the publication of our latest leaflet and accompanying handbook which offers you some practical suggestions for remembering and honouring the memories of our children. We also look at some of the issues that can arise as we remember. We invite you to select what you find helpful, or perhaps use this as a springboard for activities that are more appropriate for you. Just as there is no wrong or right way to grieve, there is no wrong or right way to remember.
Memorialising is a way of marking the memory of our child, focusing on their life and not just their death. It allows us the opportunity to carry precious memories of our child forward with us. Our child may not be physically with us anymore, but the memory of them will live on and be in our hearts forever. There is no right or wrong way to do this, but there are a variety of things we can do. Whether we choose to remember our child through photos, by planting a tree, or some other method, memorialising gives us the opportunity to ensure that our child has an everlasting presence in our lives, the lives of other people who knew and loved them, and even those who never met them. Some people refer to this type of memorialising as “continuing bonds”.