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Guest blogs

At The Compassionate Friends we know that different things work for different people at different times with their loss and grief. You will find below individuals' blogs outlining what has been helpful for them in coping with their loss and grief – however, we do appreciate everyone’s beliefs and ways of coping and managing will be different and what works for one person may not work for another. We hope it helps to hear from others about what works for you so we can each take from these personal contributions what feels helpful for our grief - we would like to hear from other parents about what has/is helping you with your grief so do please let us know below or at info@tcf.org.uk

Healing Milestones After The Death Of A Child

May 14: The death of a child is so profound, it’s like no other form of loss. There’s no such thing as getting over the death of a child. Instead, bereaved parents must learn to adapt to a life without our child. We must reconcile the reality that we’ll feel some level of pain for the rest of our lives. This is the long, slow process of healing after the death of a child.

Am I going crazy?

Apr 1: All loss is traumatic. But to lose a son or daughter is the most devastating loss – and profoundly traumatic. When our son Joshua died, suddenly and out of the blue, I felt as though I was going crazy, mad with grief. I often felt like driving into a wall or leaping in front of a tube train – even now I stand well back from the platform, in case of a sudden mad impulse. For many months my mind continually ‘searched’ for Joshua , thinking that I spotted him in the distance.

Forgotten Mourners - Sibling Grief

Jan 31: Bereaved siblings have often been called the forgotten mourners, because in the aftermath of a terrible loss they are often the ones whose grief is overlooked. But the sibling relationship is profound, it’s part of how we are formed and who we are, and that loss can be shattering. This is the transcript of a talk given by bereaved sibling, Rachael Claye, at a Compassionate Friends retreat weekend in early 2024. 

Continuing Bonds

Jan 5: I am relieved that ‘letting go’, ‘finding closure’ or ‘getting over’ your loss is no longer an expectation in the way that it once was. Bear this in mind if anyone (friend, acquaintance or therapist) tells you otherwise. I think ‘moving forward’ is healthy but ‘moving on’ probably isn’t. To me, moving on suggests we  should leave our loved one behind and try not to think or talk about them. ‘Moving forward’ suggests taking them with us into the future.

The grief does not go away

Nov 14: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s eldest son, Nicholas, dies of gastric cancer aged 43.” When I read that headline last weekend, everything around me disappeared and my mind went numb. And then the pain returned. A pain like no other I have ever known — one that sits somewhere just under the heart, buried deep, and one which is inconsolable and incurable.

Saying the Wrong Thing – or Saying Nothing

Nov 1: People in your life may occasionally say the wrong thing. Some may not fully grasp that you won’t ever get over this and might say something like ‘Time heals all wounds.’...They may talk about their children of a similar age, citing something trivial or annoying that their child has done, as they momentarily forget you can no longer do the same. All this can hurt.

Stepping out of life...the healing power of nature

Oct 9: “I can hear your absence in my soul, loud and luminous, sometimes it’s a hushed echo, lingering low and lurking loose but it never fades, it takes a break but it never breaks away.” This is a beautifully written blog about the healing power of nature and one couple's way of coping with the death of their 25 year old son.

Being here

Aug 25: Being here on this island with the sun shining and waves lapping at the sandy beach forces me to think. I look out to the sea, the view framed by rugged sandstone rocks eroded by time and tide. People - families, bobbing about in the water, face masks on as they explore the under world, invisible to us beach dwellers. 

Getting good (better) at feeling bad

May 5: If you have recently lost your darling precious child - this is for you…I’ve written a blog for newly bereaved parents because I was that mum not so long ago. I’ve tried to write what I needed to read because it helps to know how others are living this same kind of loss.

Spring Cleaning

Feb 1: My Mum was a cleaner. Not professionally, although she had worked at “the big house” when she was in service as a young girl in Liverpool. No, I mean that my Mum loved cleaning and was very houseproud. Dust didn’t dare settle on the furniture and the carpets were vacuumed within an inch of their lives. This must have rubbed off on me because I like to clean too, especially when I’m stressed.

In His Slipstream

Oct 17: Shortly after losing my son Laury at the age of 21, I decided to do something to honour his memory. Many of us do this, whether it’s a memorial garden, planting trees, holding a festival or setting up a charity or campaign organisation. It can be a way of trying to make something positive arise from the death of our precious child...

My Grief Journey So Far

Sep 13: This 'Christmas Tree' is an analogy of the way grief ebbs and flows. Starting at the bottom of the image, and moving up towards the tip of the tree. Those periods of raw, agonising pain, so protracted for many months, gradually become a little shorter over time.

The Gift

Aug 19: With my son’s death, I have come to the painful understanding that he has given me a gift. More than any other I have received, I didn’t expect it and didn’t want it. But I have it now and cannot return it. It is beholden upon me, for my sake as well as his, to use it as well as I can.

Griefbursts and silent screams

Jul 2: Grief can leave us feeling wretched. There is an acute pain when someone you love dies, a pain that can be felt physically on occasion. On the long journey of adjustment – becoming accustomed to living life without the presence of this precious person – we go through ups and downs.

The Healing Power of Writing

Apr 26: I know I am not alone in expressing my thoughts, feelings and emotions in writing as a vehicle for processing life and all its wondrous and not so wondrous happenings...Of writing being healing (Michael Rosen) said, “There is relief and release as the words go onto the page”.

We keep him close, always

Feb 27: ‘We keep him close, always’: how I survived the loss of my teenage son Seven years ago, my 14-year-old son, Kadian, was killed in a road accident. This is the advice I’d give myself back then...The first thing I would say to my seven-year-younger-self is this: I am so sorry for your loss. I am so, so sorry for your loss.

Over 5 Years In

Oct 13: What follows is a chronicle of my thoughts in a typical day, five years after David’s death. Hopefully, it will also serve as a reminder to all of us still struggling to move forward, that we do not walk alone. Your grief is not abnormal or strange, and the fact you think of your deceased child all the time is completely and totally normal.

Finding hope in the darkest of places

Sep 10: Years ago, as a newly qualified CBT therapist in the NHS, I was allocated a patient whose notes filled me with dread and anxiety. Two years previously, this patient had lost her son to suicide. I wondered what I could possibly offer this poor woman who had suffered surely the very worst fate imaginable.

August is the month my life changed

Aug 25: I’m writing this in mid-August. August is the month my life changed - 13 years ago. I was a happy and fulfilled working mum, – juggling a satisfying career with bringing up 3 boys, which was stressful at times, but I was managing fine.

Early Grief Survival Guide: The first month

Aug 3: "In the very early days of grief, my children and I searched the internet for advice. How do we do this grief thing? What will we feel? How long will it last? Some resources were better than others, but few stood out".

Rolling Along Like A Bent Penny

Jun 4: " I’ve learned to carry the pain, to live with it and recognise that it is what I look like now. Bruised, dented and prone to falling over every now and then. But … I get back up again because I have survived the worst that this world can throw at me, and I wobble off into the future".

You will always be the light that colours my jar

May 28: So James. Here's a story. Picture the scene. A hotel, nestled in the Derbyshire Dales, crammed to the rafters....literally.....with mums and dads of angels.... I hear the words..."Maria, don't forget to collect your jam jar before you leave"

Swimming through grief

Mar 5: "Our lives were thrown into a living hell. The shock of it, the cruelty of it, the grim unreality of it. Yet even in those first, nightmarish days when I was living in a fog of despair, I felt a primitive need to get in the water, to swim, to lose myself in the river and the sea".

Have you Ever Wondered? All about the Mourning Light

Sep 30: “Once you have begun to emerge from the darkness of loss, once you have begun to unfurl, blinking in the light, like someone waking from a long sleep, you rarely go back to the black pit of despair where you started".

A long reply to a simple question

Aug 19: This is a long reply to a simple question and the short answer to “does it get better” would be; yes, because it changes and it becomes different. Instead of drowning in sorrow you grow a new skin that keeps you afloat and contains the ocean of pain".

The Power of "and"

Apr 24: “After we left our session that day, I couldn’t stop thinking about that one little word. Ever since Dorothy’s death, I had found myself trying to separate my re-emerging feelings of happiness from the steady depression I was in.

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