About the Compassionate Friends

July 2015 butterfly-11

My dear Friends,

Accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature, the poet Derek Walcott said, ‘Break a vase and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than the love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole.  The glue that fits the pieces is the sealing of the original shape.’

Death shatters the vase of family wholeness.  There could be times throughout grieving when the reassembling of the pieces may seem impossible.  Conversely, it might be the imperative that starts some greater mending. 

Perhaps the most obvious, and possibly the easiest, repairing comes with the impetus to memorialize the dead.  How tenderly we frame photographs, preserve possessions, light candles, plant gardens, make donations, observe anniversaries, etc.  We can never restore the broken vase to its original but the urge to prove that lives, however brief, were not lived in vain, is one of the most powerful human motivations.  In their absence our children fill our lives every bit as much as their presence did. 

There are other broken vases.  Family life is splintered as each member tries to juggle coping with individual sorrow while caring for everyone else as well.  Friendships also suffer under the burden of struggling to balance empathy with the desire to re-establish normality.  Of course it’s as much a recipe for conflict and collapse as it is for support and survival.  It is a sad reality that some vases might be so cracked in the process that we have no option but to discard them.  Most though respond magnificently to care.  Think how art restorers go about their work – gently washing away stains, carefully brushing off dust and dirt, painstakingly filling cracks, meticulously refreshing paint – and learn from their devotion.

Amidst all this activity do not forget a very beautiful ornament needing reassembly – YOURSELF.  Loss has shattered you and your certainties and left you dazed and demoralized.  As defeated as you feel now, you do not want to stay like that.  Just as your child will always be precious and treasured, so you should learn to cherish yourself.  The cosmetic ad says it all – you’re worth it.  No amount of mending will ever entirely disguise the chips and broken lines but your vase can still be attractive and useful, and the patina of experience gives it a special brilliance.

Despite the tragedy of loss, or because of it, our sensitivity to what remains is heightened.  The glue of our caring certainly will seal all that is lovely and loved.

Much love,

Rosemary Dirmeik

Lifted from the book A String of Pearls by Rosemary Dirmeik, which is for sale at the TCF Office in Johannesburg.

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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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