On the second day of the TCF Gathering of bereaved parents and siblings in Northamptonshire from 7-9 October, we held a moving remembrance candle lighting event. Some lovely words - in the form of short readings and poems - gave comfort as we viewed the names of the precious children we have lost and each of us lit a candle to remember and honour each son or daughter, brother or sister.
We were also fortunate to finish this emotional ,but lovely, event by welcoming our guest speaker, Professor David Mosse. David lost his beloved son, Jake, to suicide in 2010. With powerful, heartfelt and searing honesty, he spoke to us about the shock, confusion and indescribable pain of recent bereavement, the journey of loss as well as sources of strength and the power of sharing. He talked of 'one reality ending that day and another reality beginning' and of the urgent, overwhelming question 'why' - a question which ultimately is unanswerable. Like for many others, his son's suicide has set him on a lifelong search for understanding. David likened his grief for his son as like a 40 foot container crashing into his house - at first he thought he could take it away, but gradually came to realise that it would never go away and that he would have to continue walking 'around it'... He talked of joining a bereavement support group - and here found witnesses to his pain and his story as well as understanding - and how much he learnt from others talking about their sons and daughters, their grief and anguish. He stressed that his bereavement journey had gained strength from interrelating and intersecting with others who had suffered a similar loss. He spoke of finding - by talking with others - new ways of expressing and thinking about his tragedy, which in turn helped him to cope better. He finished with a few words about finding a future after such a devastating loss. That knowing the worst can happen brought for him an awareness of the fragility of life and therefore more compassion and understanding of others. It was a powerful session which spoke to all the bereaved parents and siblings there.
It really was lovely to meet old friends and new at this year's National Gathering in the beautiful Sedgebrook Hall Hotel, near Northampton.
During the weekend parents and siblings could participate in a range of activities and events, including discussion groups, a wonderful craft room, a Walk to Remember, a creative writing workshop, a session on comfort from words and music, open meetings covering topics such as digital legacy, continuing bonds, memorialisation of our child, and continuing bonds. Some parents also chose time to simply relax in the beautiful hotel grounds, or in the swimming pool or take the opportunity to have a massage.
At the closing ceremony, the organiser of the Gathering and TCF Trustee, Gina Claye, read a wonderful poem:
To honor you, I get up everyday and take a breath. And start another day without you in it.
To honor you, I laugh and love with those who knew your smile And the way your eyes twinkled with mischief and secret knowledge.
To honor you, I take the time to appreciate everyone I love, I know now there is no guarantee of days or hours spent in their presence.
To honor you, I listen to music you would have liked, And sing at the top of my lungs, with the windows rolled down.
To honor you, I take chances, say what I feel, hold nothing back, Risk making a fool of myself, dance every dance.
You were my light, my heart, my gift of love, from the very highest source. So everyday, I vow to make a difference, share a smile, live, laugh and love. Now I live for us both, so all I do, I do to honor you.
Connie F. Kiefer Byrd
In Loving Memory of Jordan Alexander Kiefer 8/24/88 – 12/13/05
We do hope this year's Gathering was a comforting and supportive time for all.
Our next retreat weekend will be on 13-15 January 2017 for recently bereaved parents (3 years and under approximately)...look out for more details on our website.