About the Compassionate Friends

Fresh spring and Easter borders isolated on white. Eggs, daisies, daffodils, and green grass.

My dear Friends

     Spring is in the air.  Already the mornings are getting light earlier and the dawn chorus has started, the Cape Robin is singing well before dawn. Soon we will notice birds in their breeding plumage, busy with nesting. There are blossoms and fresh green buds on the trees.  It is the season of rebirth.

     How difficult it is to feel a sense of celebration when our hearts are heavy with grief.  The new season signifies that change is in the air and this brings with it a mix of feelings.  We are reminded of time moving on. Sometimes, in early grieving moving forward feels as if we are moving further away from our beloveds. Perhaps too, envisaging the future is too painful to contemplate.  We feel safest when we are cocooned and still, So the new life that is all around us during Spring feels like an affront. 

     My son was killed in the mid-winter month of June.  Yet in the early years afterwards it was at the beginning of Spring that I felt the acutest pain.  Something about the movement of the leaves, the sight of blossoms and the singing of birds struck a chord deep in me with an almost exquisite agony.   I realised that at the time of his death the shock had initially numbed me and it was only several months later that I began to feel the deep pain.  And by then it was early Spring.  So each year as Spring arrived it triggered the same pain in me.

     As the years went by and I emerged from the intensity of grief, I started to look for ways of finding meaning in the coming of Spring.  Could it be an opportunity for new growth, for me to open to new experiences?  Could I dare to hope again?  Could I look upward into the light?

     I believe that we can take the lessons of Spring and use them to help us heal.  The lessons of rebirth and renewal.  .  We know that the changing of the seasons is inexorable and inevitable.  So too will be be our emergence from our deep grief. 

     What actions can we take to assist our own growth?  Can we risk allowing ourselves to sharpen our awareness, to notice the light?  To breathe the air, to feel the breeze against our skin, to hear the bird calls, and to smell the Spring scents: Sweet peas, Buddleia, blossoms, Brunfelsia grandiflora, that sweetest smelling of all the Spring shrubs, better known as Yesterday Today and Tomorrow.  Isn’t this plant a metaphor for us?   Can we use this beautiful bush to describe ourselves, to make meaning for our situation?  Yesterday our beloveds were alive, Today we are filled with grief, Tomorrow will bring new growth if we open ourselves to it.  Our lives will be different, yes, but there is the possibility of beauty and regeneration. 

     While writing this editorial I came across the extract below, written by Rose Mary Saraiva, a grief counsellor in England:

     My darkest winter began on that fateful day in September of 2006 with the death of my firstborn child.  Rachel’s death brought me into a winter that has lingered well over 4 years.  This was the type of winter, that hid all beauty, that belied any potential, that gave no glimmer of ever relenting in its coldness and darkness.  This was a time of a deep, heavy-laden pain, and a darkness that didn’t appear to let in any light at all.   But like the snow-covered ground, it holds its secrets and promises, and eventually something begins to happen.  The ice thaws, the snow melts, the darkness begins to vanish and hope begins to filter into the vast emptiness.  You begin to feel the promise of Spring, a chance to live again, to shake off all the trappings of winter and begin to bloom.”

     I wish you a gentle and meaningful Spring season.  May the ice in your hearts begin to melt and the sweet Spring scents bring you hope and comfort.  May the light of Spring touch and warm you.

     Here is an extract from a poem by John O Donahue:    BEANNACHT/BLESSING

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

With love

Judith Hawarden

——————————————————————————————-

Information about the Compassionate Friends and how to participate in its services

We are a Charity Organization and our aim is to help bereaved parents cope with their loss.  Our services are free of charge for the first year.  (Star ting 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-to-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 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.

BUTTERfly1The 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.

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