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Grenades and Guillotines: Navigating grief and finding hope

Speaker: Cathy Rentzenbrink

13 October 2020, 19.00

ONLINE via Zoom

Join Cathy Rentzenbrink online as she discusses the unpredictability of grief and the impact early loss had on her life.


Cathy Rentzenbrink was 17 when her younger brother, Matty, was knocked over by a car on a lonely, dark road about a mile from where they lived in Yorkshire.

“Up until that night”, Cathy has written “life was happy, though I didn’t know it, preoccupied as I was with boyfriends and exams. I only fully realised the extent of my good fortune when it was taken away. Lying on my bed a few days after the accident, I looked around at my possessions and failed to recognise them. It was as though it all belonged to someone else, like I was lying on some other girl’s bed. I sensed then, new as I was to this world of grief and pain, that I had been irrevocably changed by the grenade that had exploded into our lives.”

Cathy knows from experience that grief is not elegant or well-mannered, and she has described how she was often unable to control the way her distress burst out. She has shared her feelings of being a pariah, split off from her friends who were still worrying about boyfriends and exams, while she felt like someone had taken an axe to her heart. Sometimes she thought she wouldn’t pull through, that “my heart might just give up and refuse to continue pumping blood around my beleaguered body” But she is still here.

Join Cathy online to hear how she has endured this most terrible pain and how she survived. She will share with us the ways she found to make life meaningful and how she has learned to weave some joy in with the pain.

This is the third online event from The Compassionate Friends offering an opportunity to hear inspiring speakers with their own perspectives on parental and sibling loss.

About Cathy Rentzenbrink

Cathy Rentzenbrink is the author of The Last Act of Love - about the life and death of her brother, A Manual for Heartache is a broader look at the sorrow, anguish and despair, loss and how to live the knowledge that the world can be a cruel place. Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books will is published September 2020. Cathy regularly chairs literary events, interviews authors, reviews books, runs creative writing workshops and speaks and writes on life, death, love, and literature. She lives in Cornwall with her family.

A Manual for Heartache is available from The Compassionate Friends online shop


This event is free to attend online but we ask you, if you can, to help us to fund our services for bereaved parents through a voluntary donation when registering. Thank you and we appreciate your support.

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