My dear Friends,
The first editorial letter I wrote for this newsletter I used the tragedy of 9/11 as an analogy of facets of the grieving process. A few months ago I was at Ground Zero and once again found messages for us there.
Some of the buildings surrounding the Twin Towers were so badly damaged they had to be imploded. Many have already been rebuilt and soar triumphantly into the iconic New York skyline, stronger and more awe-inspiring than before.
As for the World Trade Center itself, it’s still an enormous crater in the ground, but it’s not empty. Even on a Saturday morning of a holiday weekend, there were bulldozers and cranes, front-end loaders and piles of building materials, and many, many workers determined to complete the new tower and memorial. Progress is behind schedule and there’ve been problems galore but the will to surmount all that defies mere timetables. One day there will be another fabulous attraction in the city, a monument to the past and a commitment to the present and future.
Across one of the streets is the WTCH Heritage museum. Full of photographs and posters, artifacts found on the tragic site, testimonies of survivors and mourners, it’s a heartbreaking experience. Through the blur of tears one is constantly aware of courage and selflessness. Many sacrifices were made, most notably of lives, but also of time and resources. Everywhere there are reminders of how people stood together with love and support. Despite the shock and the fear, New York survives and remains the vibrant city that never sleeps.
Visitors are requested to comment on the effects of these events. Pinned up all around the walls of the museum basement are messages from adults and children from the USA and the world. There are common threads – admiration and praise for the brave and the good, an understanding of the anguish still endured, a commitment to the building albeit in tiny ways, of a stronger, better, kinder life.
We don’t know why our personal edifices are torn apart and are unsure if we are capable of building afresh. But, as in New York, each individual, every family, can and does eventually, construct new beautiful futures. From tragedy must come truth, and delight must follow despair. The TCF family is proof of that; may you soon feel part of the renewal.
Lifted from the book A String of Pearls by Rosemary Dirmeik, which is for sale at the TCF Office in Johannesburg.
THE COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS
We are a Charity Organization and or aim is to help bereaved parents cope with their loss. Our services are free of charge for the first year. (Starting from the first time you made contact with us at TCF). Thereafter if you would like to continue participating in our activities, we ask for a fee (Subscription) of R250 per annum That would include receiving Newsletters, birthday and anniversary cards.
- You can also sponsor a page in our Newsletter at R100 per page or R50 per half page.
- A LOVE GIFT can be any amount of money you would like to donate in memory of your child.
- We are looking forward to your participation in putting together our Newsletters by writing your own story. Send your story to TCF at the beginning of the month and we will do our best to publish it. We would like to support you in your grief journey. Writing brings healing.
- Contact any of our Counsellors for one-one-one sessions.
If you know of any organization (schools, hospitals, work places) that would benefit from our services at TCF, please inform them about our work. Often people do not know what to say or do or how they can help someone who has lost a child or a sibling. Our contact details are in the Newsletter.
The History of The Compassionate Friends
TCF was founded by Reverend Simon Stephens in the UK in 1969 after he witnessed the support two bereaved families were able to draw from each other after losing a child. TCF was founded in South Africa in 1983 by Linda Abelheim and there are now more the 30 groups throughout the country.
All who belong to TCF have learned that the death of our child has caused a pain that can best be understood fully by another bereaved parent. Knowing that others need love and support, we reach out as our own grief subsides to those who still feel alone and abandoned.
TCF believes that bereaved parents can help each other towards a positive resolution of their grief, as we know that expressing thoughts and feelings is part of the healing process. We never suggest that there is a correct way to grieve or that there is a preferred solution to the emotional and spiritual dilemma raised by the deaths of our children – we understand that each parent must find his or her own way through grief.
TCF reaches out to all bereaved parents across artificial barriers of religion, race, ecomomic class, or ethnic group.
We also offer advice to other relatives, friends and professionals as to how to deal with those close to them who may be grieivng. To this end, TCF offers support literature and gives regular talks and presentations within the community, such as at schools, hospitals, corporates, the media and other charitable organisations.
Our Mission Statement
THE COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS is a mutual self-help organisation offering friendship and understanding to bereaved parents and siblings.
The primary purpose is to assist them in the positive resolution of the grief experienced upon the death of a child and to support their efforts to achieve physical and emotional health.
The secondary purpose is to provide information and education about bereaved parents and siblings. The objective is to help those in their community, including family, friends, employers, co-workers and professionals to be supportive.