I found The Compassionate Friends online forum just two days after I lost my son to cancer. I was, of course, a complete emotional mess at the time and I don't remember much about it. But I do remember that the new friends I met gave me strength to help me through the funeral and they also gave me some practical tips on how to arrange the day.
That was nine years ago and my life has moved on. I have had some dark times over the next few years and my friends on the forum were always there to help pick me up again. At times when I couldn't face the world, my virtual friends were there for me.
I have met up with many of the people I met on the forum and they have become my closest friends. They understand that I will always carry a sadness with me. I don't need to say that to them. And we can laugh together.
I now volunteer to do the administration on the forum and so “meet” newly bereaved parents. I hope that I can give them the help and support offered to me in the early days, the way others did for me.