Our Gathering of bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents held in Perth, in beautiful Scotland, was held from 12-14 May. Parents from Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, South Africa and Australia came to the event, and many spent the first evening at a social drop in group to get to know each other and there was also a supportive meeting for first-timers attending the weekend - to help new parents get orientated and make the most of the 2 days together.
During our weekend together we heard a moving talk by Stewart Wilson, CEO of Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland. A bereaved father himself, he spoke about all his family and particularly his eldest daughter Anna who was born with a rare genetic disorder - 'crie de chat' syndrome - and sadly died when she a few days from her 17th birthday. Stewart's incredible honesty about family life with Anna and inspiring account of her life, death and the impact her short life has had on both him and his family was both heart-rending and inspiring to hear.
Just some of the sessions that bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings took part in included:
* a sharing session of comfort from words and music * relaxation and therapy sessions * a variety of discussion groups in the morning covering death of a child by suicide, a group specifically for the newly bereaved, coping with communicating with others after child loss, and looking at the impact of grief on surviving children. Other groups included coping with depression, parents with no surviving children, the sudden death of a child and a space for men's discussion. * craft activities with lovely items to make and do in memory of our precious children.
A short memory walk during the weekend took us along the River Tay where we each threw a sprig of heather into the beautiful river. We walked to the stunning Heather Garden where 550 different species of heather have been sourced and planted by the charity, Beautiful Perth. Their CEO, John Summers, spoke to us about the gardens - their history and about the volunteers who maintain them. Finally we went to a quiet spot in the gardens where a Rowan Tree was ceremonially planted to grow and flourish by everyone at the Scottish Gathering in memory of their children, and all of our children gone to soon. Beautiful Perth will also be installing a bench looking on to the tree for quiet contemplation in the gardens. It was a lovely event and more details and pictures can be found here.
A lovely weekend where we all spent time with each other and found comfort and understanding.
Next year the provisional dates for the Scottish Gathering are 20-22 April 2018. More details later in the year.