The Compassionate Friends retreat weekend for parents and siblings in early bereavement welcomed 62 parents and 3 siblings - despite some tussles with snow - to Willersley Castle Hotel in Derbyshire.
We began our weekend with tea, cakes, wine and small groups getting to know each other and our children and siblings. After dinner we watched the short film 'Say Their Name" introduced by Jimmy and Jane, the filmmakers.
Day 2 and 3 of the retreat saw discussion groups on a range of topics, including coping with strong emotions, caring for surviving siblings, self care, managing PTSD, dealing with social situations, sudden death, the death of a child through prolonged illness, death as a result of substance misuse, a group especially for bereaved fathers, and one discussing grieving as a couple, as well as many more.
What a wonderful privilege to meet such lovely people... thank you to all who came to our few days together and to those volunteers giving their time to make the weekend happen. We hope you found comfort and support by being together, sharing your stories and your beloved children. We hope you made new friends and connections to help and sustain you as you navigate this new life without your sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.
Maria Ahern, TCF's new Chair of Trustees, has written a piece about the retreat weekend in which she was participating and also supporting others.
The things people say to a bereaved parent......
How do you do it? Meeting other bereaved parents. Doesn't it remind you?
I've just spent the weekend in a beautiful hotel nestled deep in the Derbyshire Dales. There was lovely food, a swimming pool, bracing walks. You name it. Every box ticked.
The Compassionate Friends UK has just set up a new group for fathers whose son or daughter has died at any age, and from any cause. Your loss can have been just a short time ago or many years previously - all are warmly welcome. We hope the group will offer fathers an opportunity for discussion from a dad's perspective, a chance to share experiences as a bereaved dad, talk through things that might have been helpful, get feedback and perhaps others' perspectives, and hopefully find some support, encouragement, hope and friendship.
At our supportive retreats and weekends we find that often the dads' only discussion groups are really well attended, and the discussion often continues after the allotted time - with dads wanting to get together again during the weekend. So, we thought we would start a private online group where fathers can talk in a similar way.
If you would like to join this new UK Facebook group, then please could you email Paul and John at email@example.com requesting access to the Bereaved Dads Facebook group.
Please be patient if you don't hear from us right away...but we will try to get back to you within 24 hours. Thank you.
Winter editions of our publications - out now.
Compassion, our supportive magazine for bereaved parents written by bereaved parents....and TCF News, our charity newsletter with articles and features covering fundraising, events and other news going on in charity.
To receive these publications on a regular basis, JOIN TCF as a donating member and they will be sent to you every quarter.
You can view both publications online here:
Join us for The Compassionate Friends
This worldwide event unites family and friends around the globe in lighting candles for one hour to honour the memories of the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and grandchildren who left too soon.
"Sometimes sad is very big.
It's everywhere. All over me."
It was wonderful to hear children's author, poet and broadcaster, Michael Rosen speaking to a full theatre at The Compassionate Friends AGM on Saturday 5 November. Michael spoke openly to the bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents assembled there about his talented and funny son, Eddie, and his sudden death from meningitis at the age of 18. Talking candidly about his own and others' reactions at the time of his son's death, he also told us about the rituals and events he and his family organised as they tried to make sense of the loss of Eddie. A wonderful storyteller and inspiring speaker - all in the room were spellbound.