UPDATE on 20th June: The funeral of Joe Lawley will take place at Nuneaton Crematorium on Thursday 7th July 2016 at 2.15 pm.
UPDATE on 23rd June: Family flowers only please; donations if desired for The Compassionate Friends, may be sent to W Smith & Sons Funeral Directors, Avenue Road Nuneaton, Warwickshire CV11 4JT.
It is with very great sadness that we learned of the death of Joe Lawley earlier today - Monday 13 June. Joe was one of the Founder parents of The Compassionate Friends.
Joe was admitted to hospital on 3 June and his wife Iris was with him when he died.
He will be greatly missed and we send our love to Iris and their daughters at this sad time. Without them, and the other Founder members, TCF would not have existed.
On hearing this sad news, our Chair of Trustees, Dr Margaret Brearley commented: "Joe and Iris, together with the Hendersons and Simon Stephens, created TCF in 1969 – now a worldwide group of caring organisations uniquely comforting bereaved parents. Their shared companionship and informal mutual support in their overwhelming grief allowed them to turn outwards to seek other similarly grieving parents, with the result that literally hundreds of thousands of grieving parents have been given comfort and friendship – and in many countries – all this inspired by their example and their words".
If you wish to contact Iris Lawley, please write via The Compassionate Friends, 14 New King Street, Deptford, London SE8 3HS. We will pass any messages to Joe's family.
This moving and beautiful poem was written by Joe.
I have a gift.
I did not want this gift, it meant suffering and pain.
The pain came because of love.
A love which had manifested itself in a child.
The child brought its love to me and asked for my love.
Sometimes I did not understand this.
Sometimes I did not appreciate it.
Sometimes I was too busy to listen quietly to this love.
But the love persisted; it was always there.
One day the child died.
But the love remained.
This time the love came in other forms.
This time there were memories; there was sadness and anguish.
And unbelievable pain.
One day a stranger came and stood with me.
The stranger listened and occasionally spoke.
The stranger said "I understand", and did.
You see the stranger had also been this way.
We talked and cried together.
The stranger touched me to comfort.
The stranger became my friend as no other had.
My friend said "I am always here", and was.
One day I lifted my head.
I noticed another grieving, grey and drawn with pain.
I approached and spoke.
I touched and comforted.
I said, "I will walk with you", and did.
I also had the gift.