I AM NOT THE SAME; Nothing Stays The Same

bitter or better

A newly bereaved mom, the other day, saw this meme that I had posted and shared with me that the death of her child has torn her down and that her life is Empty and will always be so.
I understand.
These are words that I have spoken.
These are emotions that I know.

It was that way for me, for years…..
Then, somewhere along the way, I honored my Robbie
(and surprised the Stuffing out of me)
by becoming an intentional survivor instead of a collateral victim of her death.
Never expected that….never even wanted it.
But I live on, and she lives through me and through the Good Stuff that I do for others.

I know that I have belief that no one in the world could be more BEREFT.
I was certain that the word BEREFT had been invented for me.

Recently, I sat in for a Mother’s Day webinar that TCF hosted in May, in conjunction with Open Hope to Hope.
There was one thing that was a light bulb for me in that webinar.
An elderly mom was speaking to her daughter, who is in her sixties. Daughter had both been widowed and had her daughter died within the same very short few month period.
Mom said to her daughter
“Nothing stays the same.”

And it’s true.
With each inhale and with each exhale, things change, whether we want them to or not.

I never ever ever ever ever had a goal to “get better” following Robyn’s death.
At best, I have been ambivalent about being alive. I have woken up morning after morning after morning after morning after morning depressed and consumed with horrible, terrible, eviscerating pain because I woke up and was still alive. Life has been nothing but feeling like a torturous prison sentence without any possibility of parole. Since Robyn died I have been filled with anger and resentment that I was forced to stay here without her.
I lost my bucket list.
I lost my light heartedness.
I lost Me.

I very much relate to the statement that I died too, they just didn’t bury me.

My world once chaotic and filled with color and fantasy and fun became Grey…and, simply, Without…..

I knew that I had reason to still feel thanks and to still feel love and still be loved, but it was if all of my emotion, other than pain, missing and longing, had been stripped from me with her last breath.

I just Didn’t Care.
I stopped being the driver and executor of my life, and became only a passenger, trapoed by the very Act of Breathing that I didn’t want to do.

There is such guilt when this BEREFT Mom can’t muster any enthusiasm for other loved ones in my life…. for hating to be around other mothers and their children, especially mothers and their daughters…. the guilt of cheating my husband out of the warm, wonderful, kind, compassionate, fun-loving woman he fell in love with and married, and giving him back only a blank, life-less shell of whom I once was…..
The guilt of being with my son and daughter-in-law; or my step-children and their children~ and instead of being immersed in family and love and possibilities, only feeling void and pain and the missing of my daughter….

Exsistance.
Not Life.

And I was resigned to accept this and experience this for all of my days….
And honestly, just didn’t care if it were ever different.

And HOW COULD it ever be different?
The only way it could ever be “better”, would be if Robyn were suddenly alive.

I never went to Compassionate Friends workshops or meetings or gatherings to get “better”; especially since my belief was that such an existence was not only NOT possible, but not wanted.
My loving life, as I knew it to be, had ended with the death of my daughter.
And I felt guilty for cheating those around me who didn’t sign on for this existence.
It was, at the time, Robyn’s Legacy. Robyn’s Death Destroyed My Life.

But I kept going to meetings and workshops.
My intent, I think, was to not feel so alone in my pain.
My intent, I think, was to have a place where I could say Robyn’s name over and over and over again; where I could share her stories, where I didn’t have to bite my tongue because of someone else’s discomfort, where she could sit with me and be with me and we were together, unashamedly near other people, other than only in the pain and dark hidden caverns of my mind and heart.

Without me planning on it
Without me wanting it
Without me even feeling the need for it,
Color,
all fueled by my continuing and growing love for my daughter, began to seep back into the far edges of this prison sentence I was living.

NOTHING STAYS THE SAME

I expected it only to get worse and worse and worse with every exhale and inhale breath.
My goal has been, only, to try to get through another day; to exist for another set of 24 hours, because purposely ending my life was never an option.

I gave my soul to my grief.
I never softened it.
I never denied it.
I never hid from it.
I never tried to bury it.
I have lived with it in tandem.

And, Slowly, the color has begun to move deeper towards the center of my life.

My Grief remains with me, always, not only by my side, but inside of me.
Robyn remains cremains in my pendant.
Robyn remains no longer encased in human form.
I Grieve.
Every Day.

NOTHING STAYS THE SAME

These years are passing.
And with each passing day
With Each passing inhale and exhale
My love for my daughter continues to grow

That ever accumulating love
has begun to outshine the darkness of The Pain of Her Death
and The Grays from her absence in my physical life.
Her ever growing love for me and mine for her
is bringing more color than I ever would have known could be possible.

I have always agreed with author Nicholas Soarks that the reason why we hurt so much is because we love so deeply….
From her place in Death,
Robyn is teaching me
that we continue to love deeply
And more deeply
And more deeply.
With those inhales and with those exhales,
Our connection,
Our Love
Grows Stronger. ….

Because I am no longer immersed in ONLY the pain.
Because I have not only Allowed,
but Welcomed love
back into my life
and into my heart.

I learned to recognize and gratefully accept the gifts that Robyn continues to give to me;
of course, our continued bond
and relationship,
(though I still feel so cheated from the relationship that I want)
and our ever-growing love, now untainted by the restraints of human boundaries and human tugs-of-war and human relationships…..
The Color that she is introducing back into my life….
the people and the living relationships that she leads to me.
I have come to recognize that we are still in a partnership; though we do not have the one that I would have chosen, nor is this the one that I want,
this is the one that I GET,
And I relish the little scraps of what I have, rather than live in only what I do not.

7 years later and the reality of it,
IT STILL SUCKS.

NOTHING STAYS THE SAME.
NOTHING IS STAGNANT.

The Sucking hasn’t gone away, and I presume never will.
but the balance has shifted because OUR LOVE continues to grow,
And it is that love that I try to allow to fill my spirit.

NOTHING STAYS THE SAME.

I haven’t gotten “better” since Robyn’s death.
Many parts of who I was before have not come back.
Many parts of me are less than and worse than I was 7 years ago, before my first born child was killed.
But I am not The Same.
I am Different.
I have been Becoming Different through all these years.
I am no longer BEREFT, though I still know sadness and depression and loneliness and angst.

In Life, Robbie needed me to be a good person,
to be a helpful person,
to be someone who she could walk with respctfully,
Who she could introduce to others and say with purpose and pride, “This is MY Mom….”
I think that she STILL needs that and expects that from me every bit as much as she did for the 28 years that I got to spend on Earth with her this time.

I remain her mother for as long as I live.
And it remains my job to be the best mother that I can be….
even one that has included years of barely functioning and being bereft,
and suffering pain that I can’t imagine ever living through.

There will always be a hole in my physical life the shape of Robyn.
There will always be a pain and missing and longing and wanting.
There are things that were “just ours” that will never be done again, because the pain of not physically sharing with her is too great for me to Bear and still continue to breathe.
There are Things that we used to do together that I do now in her memory.
And there are so so so many things, mostly surrounding my support of other bereaved families and the education of Grief, but I never ever ever expected to be doing…. yet that I do, filled with her love and do gratefully in her honor.

My life will never be The Same.
I am not The Same.
NOTHING STAYS THE SAME.

With every inhale and every exhale of every breath, I am here in the physical world, to remind all of this nature, all of This Universe, that Robbie was, and indeed, remains a part of it.

Nothing Stays The Same.
And I am allowing Our Love to continue to grow ♥

Timeless Robyn

 

 

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How To Join the FUND-RAISING WALK TEAM

Join Team Instructions

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Helping Others In The Darkest Time of Their Lives

4 June 2015
PLEASE HELP BY MAKING EVEN A TINY DONATION

robyn Purple Framebpink roses - 1rpyH-17D - printI have become a Proactive Griever.
Don’t misunderstand, I have plenty of happier moments, now,
BUT
I have not stopped missing my daughter.
I have not stopped wishing that she were still living, breathing and having earth plane life, with me….
AND
Being a Bereaved Mom STILL Sucks!

I NEVER expected to be able to go on 6 minutes, 6 days, 6 weeks, 6 months without having a living Robbie by my side.
And, now, here I am 6 years later,
not only still alive, but, every day, supporting and caring for other bereaved parents who haven’t yet
gotten to this place where THE LOVE out shadows
THE DEATH.

The Compassionate Friends
is what has helped me to become
AN INTENTIONAL SURVIVOR
of my Daughter’s Death
rather than succumb to becoming
A COLLATERAL VICTIM.
(thank you, Mitch Carmody, Kelly’s Dad,  and Alan Pedersen, Ashley’s Dad, for introducing me to that concept).

Now through TCF,
I not only strive to help myself, but to reach out to other bereaved families and support them,
in the same way that I have found compassion and understanding within our Chapter walls.

Every day, I try to be there for other bereaved family members,
to give a hand, a hug, love, caring and support.
To be there AS LONG AS IT TAKES
for the rawness of the worse pain ever known to a parent or grandparent
(and some of the worst for any sibling)
to finally be nudged out of the way by LOVE
(and finally for some, HOPE).

I do this, all,
IN HONOR OF MY DAUGHTER,  ROBYNAPRIL.

It is through the friendship, understanding, and hope provided by
The Compassionate Friends
that I am able to keep working surviving this most terrible of nightmares.
I am asking for a small tax deductible contribution to help me keep our TCF Chapter running.

I am asking for your help.
We need financial donations in order to keep our
The Compassionate Friends
East Of The River CT  Chapter
Going.
Every penny I, and other chapter members, help to raise
GOES DIRECTLY to keeping the chapter up and running to care for other bereaved families.

http://tinyurl.com/RememberRobyn2015

Every ounce of my efforts is because
I Want,
I Need
To Do GOOD WORKS
in Robbie’s Memory.

If you have ever cared about me,
or care about Robbie,
PLEASE
Don’t Let Robyn Be Forgotten!
Don’t Let The Children Of Our Chapter BE FORGOTTEN!
Collage Robyn
I can’t say it any more plainly that that.
I never expected to be without Robbie and every day it still hurts.
Every day I still wish it were different.
6 years later and  I am still struggle to accept our REALITY that Robbie will only dance next to me in spirit now.
I am in a different place than I have been, but “finding my footing” and regaining an enjoyment of living is very slow going.
Nothing in life prepared me for the Death Of My Daughter and it has dramatically changed who I used to be.

Every 29 seconds a family somewhere in the United States will experience the death of a child.
NO ONE IS IMMUNE.
I know this heartbreak all too well since my RobynApril left the earth plane December 4, 2008….the day that every thing changed for our family.

Every month The Compassionate Friends,
through its 650+ chapters and the National Organization,
provides bereavement support to tens of thousands of families like ours.
Jim and I began the East Of The River CT Chapter
so that we could reach out to help other families enduring their own nightmares.

I know that money is really tight all the way around these days.
I haven’t been able to work since Robbie’s death and every penny counts.
Jim has had, now, 5 heart attacks that prevent him from being a wage earner.  (and being 71 doesn’t really help either!)
We truly understand a really tight budget.
Your financial support doesn’t need to be huge.
Little bits can add up.
The minimum that the on-line Friends Helping Friends TCFWalkToRemember.org site accepts is $5.00
….and even that helps me feel as if you care; and that Robbie isn’t forgotten, that she still matters.

The WALK TO REMEMBER is how we raise funds for our East of the River Chapter,
allowing us to reach out and support others in need.
100% of every donation made on line makes it directly to our The Compassionate Friends East Of The River CT Chapter.

I can’t imagine how it would have been if right after Robyn’s death I had no one to turn to at all…
…no one who “got it”
and who could just be there to help me through that most awful beginning
…and still remains to help now….
TCF has become a caring family and a safe place.

By supporting us during The Walk to Remember fundraising drive,
you will be helping Our TCF East Of The River CT Chapter to raise money
to continue to meet and to expand vital programs and outreach to bereaved families in our area.
You’ll be helping us to help others
IN PAIN,
CONFUSION,
ANGER,
and HURT
who desperately need a little light brought to their darkness to survive the worst tragedy of their lives.

TCF NEVER charges for any services, but we need funds to keep going.

SPONSORING IS SIMPLE
MAKING A DONATION IS SIMPLE
JOINING OUR FUND-RAISING TEAM IS VERY MUCH WELCOMED
http://tinyurl.com/RememberRobyn2015

—just use the link and follow the prompts.
Thank you for helping me to honor the memory of my daughter, RobynApril.
Thank you for honor the memory of all of our Chapter Children.
Thank you for helping to keep them all alive in our hearts.

PS
Please consider joining our VIRTUAL WALK team.
Then, you can use the site to safely AND NON-INVASIVELY email
your family and friends,
inviting them to do a GOOD WORK
of making a tax-deductible donation, too–

And, if you are able, please JOIN OUR FREE DAY OF COMMUNITY & CARING
www.WalkToRememberCT.org

Hugs, love and Light to all,
~Bettie-Jeanne,
Forever Robbie’s mom
f tearchild hand butterfly

 

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Death Sucks! Day Of Community & Caring Makes it Suck Less So

Death Sucks.

Let’s face it, being left behind after someone you love dies, is not a pleasant experience.   And when it is your own child, it truly SUCKS more than there are words for.

I once was in a bereavement support group after, RobynApril,  my 28 year old beautiful daughter was crushed to death in her own front yard, and when asked how I was doing, replied truthfully with  “It SUCKS.”  The facilitator was taken aback and told me that such a response was vulgar.  I still remember looking at him through glazed, tear filled eyes and asked  “And what is more vulgar than the death of my child?”  What indeed?

A while ago, I was speaking to a mom in her mid 70s.  Her son had been died 19 years ago as a Connecticut State Trooper.  Her daughter was taken by cancer 5 years go.  Apologizing for my possible offense to her, I told her that IT SUCKS.  “No. It doesn’t suck.” she retorted, “It sucks BIG TIME!”  And we laughed together, understanding as only parents do who have lost a child, how BIG TIME, doesn’t even begin to cover it!

Those who do not suffer the death of their child, may try and want to be sympathetic and caring, but to really do so they have to imagine themselves standing at the casket of their own child, wearing cremation jewelry in a pendant around their necks, never seeing their own child again…and that imagination is too ugly to conjure up…and too frightening of a possibility that it could become REAL.  So many “civilians”, as we often think now of those who have been spared this unimaginable pain, drift away from we bereaved parents as if we are contagious.  For many, our heartbreak is too painful for them to share.  Others grow impatient waiting for us to return to our former lighthearted, happy, joy filled selves.  What they don’t understand is how impossible it is to go back to Who-We-Used-To-Be-Before our child was ripped from our lives.  We are different people now.  EVERYTHING changed when our child took the last breath on earth.  Many of our former friends grow bored with our need to talk about our child and keep their spirit with us in the sharing of memories and stories.  So, not only do we lose our child, but we lose many people around us, who we always believed that we could count on, and painfully discovered that we couldn’t.  And we grow even more lonely and feeling alone.  And it Sucks.  Big Time.

In the beginning, many of us don’t care if we survive.  It doesn’t mean that we will purposely end our own lives; we don’t want to dishonor the memory of our child, but we don’t really care about living.  We often become passive riders rather than active participants.  The first year following the death is unbelievable pain, but there is still shock to numb and the care and comfort of some understanding friends and family.  The second year, for many bereaved parents, is much worse than the first.  Friends fade away, the protective fog wears off and the Reality begins to set in.  People often stop saying the name of our child, because they are very mistakenly afraid that if they do we will suddenly be reminded and cause pain.  The pain is always present, even if we aren’t showing it.  We are always remembering.  The third year can hit with force that is shocking.  Even if, as bereaved parents, we are becoming desensitized to the words DEATH, GONE, NOT COMING BACK, we still get hit with a Reality Check that can create agony. In the third year people really seem to need us to “be over it”, to have “moved on”,   to have stopped grieving.  What “the civilian world” may not realize is not only are we considered NEWLY BEREAVED for the first full five years after our child’s death, but that we will always be our children’s parents for as long as we live, not just as long as they did.

I am told, and finding it to be true for me,  that the sharp pain of grief begins to soften more noticeably around the 5th year as we fall into the now-familiar rhythm of the empty space in our lives,

I am pretty sure that it will Still SUCK.  Because my daughter will still be dead.  Ask my friend who cremated her son 19 years ago.  BIG TIME!

Being around others who “get it”, who not only don’t cringe when we speak our children’s names, but ask to hear the stories, want to meet them through our memories, is a ray of light in the darkness forced upon us.  As time passes, we are forced to speak less and less about “the child gone too soon”.  Yet we Never Forget.  We Need To Remember.

The Compassionate Friends is the largest FREE Peer-To-Peer Bereavement Support Group for those who suffer the death of a child, grandchild, or sibling; gone from any cause, from any age- pre-birth to full maturity.  There are 8 TCF Chapters located in Connecticut and nearly 700 in the United States with chapters in 30+ more countries internationally.

“The Compassionate Friends is about transforming the pain of grief into the elixir of hope. It takes people out of the isolation society imposes on the bereaved and lets them express their grief naturally. With the shedding of tears, healing comes. And the newly bereaved get to see people who have survived and are learning to live and love again.”

~Simon Stephens, founder of The Compassionate Friends

Jim and I founded the TCF East Of The River CT Chapter in 2010, partly to help others who were experiencing the horrible pain we know all too well, but also to continue to help ourselves.  Our “new family” and “new friends” are mostly those whom we have met through The Compassionate Friends Meetings and conferences.

Each year, we will join others in a Statewide Day Of Community & Caring ~ Annual WALK TO REMEMBER®. Together, we will share a Day of Remembrance ~ A Safe, Compassionate Gathering where we can shout out the names of our deceased loved ones, tell their stories and hold them not only in our own hearts, but share them with others!  Throughout the month of July, TCF Chapters all over the United States will host their own walks, but Connecticut is the only state hosting a Statewide Walk to involve its entire 8 TCF Chapters, their families and friends.  Not limited to The Compassionate Friends Members, Anyone and Everyone who knows the pain of the death of someone they love is welcome to come and WALK ALONG SIDE US for this FREE EVENT.
(pre-registration is requested)

We will be Holding Hands and Hugging Hearts.
We will be sharing and listening to stories of those who have gone too soon.
We Will Remember With Love.
We Will Cry and We Will Laugh.

And we will Walk with Others who understand, Who “Get it”, Who Care.

And it will STILL SUCK.
But Not As Much.

Anyone interested in walking or finding more out about the event can click here  to find information or can call the Walk Information Line 860-578-HUG2 (4842)

The TCF East Of The River CT Chapter
meets the third Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at the
Hilton Inn & Suites  Pleasant Valley Rd, Manchester.
For more information, call Bettie-Jeanne  at860-375-EØTR (3087) or visit www.TCFEastOfTheRiverCT.org
For information about the national organization and other chapter locations,
call toll-free 877-969-0010 or visit TCF’s national web site at CompassionateFriends.org

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Deceased Kids Travel “On Vacation” -Remembering Our Loved Ones

My first ever night at a The Compassionate Friends National Conference 4 years ago in Arlington, Virginia, I met a man who impacted me more than he could possibly know.  It was at a Facebook Meet and Greet.  He said that he, his wife and surviving child attend the conferences every year because this is the only trip that all of them could continue to travel as a FAMILY; that this was THE PLACE that they could bring their deceased child on vacation with them.  I remember turning to my husband, tears pooling in my eyes, with a bittersweet smile and urgent promise of “We are coming back next year.”  And we have.  Robyn traveled with us to Minnesota the following year, then Costa Mesa in 2012 and this year, over the July 4th holiday weekend, to Boston.    Compassionate Friends is where we can wear our Robyn photo T Shirts, our Robbie photo buttons, where we can freely and happily share stories of Rob’s life and death.  We travel with our deceased child for a week in a place where everyone understands.

Most of us who go to The National Conference think of the workshops as icing on the cake, but ask any of us why we return and the Number One Reason is THE CONNECTION made with Other Bereaved Parents (siblings and Grandparents).  It is the special conversations held between the workshops, relished during breakfasts, lunches and dinners; the connections during Sharing Sessions.

We keep going back because of BEING WITH OTHERS WHO GET IT, whose stories not only make us feel so less alone, but touch our hearts, inspire us, and fill us with possibility.  We go because we find that we touch other lives.  We wrap our arms around those with the Butterfly Stickers, signifying that it is their first conference experience, and we remember with a flood of emotions how it was our first time; walking into a TCF meeting, attending a Conference; how it was that first moment we heard the words that forever changed our lives.  The keynote addresses, the presenters, the workshops are amazing parts of The TCF Conference Experience.  But it is Standing Alongside of 1,500 others during the Walk To Remember; it is more than 1,000 lit candles for our KIDS, it is NOT BEING ALONE, that becomes The Magic Of a TCF National Conference.

Whether you attended The Conference or not, you have a chance to capture a part of that magic during our

THIRD ANNUAL STATEWIDE
FREE DAY OF COMMUNITY AND CARING
WALK TO REMEMBER
Sunday, July 21

Whether you chose to walk two steps, the entire mile and a half or just sit and speak with others who “Get It”, it is a Day of Traveling with your Deceased Loved One…It is a Day of Remembering…Of Sharing their Life Story …Of being able to release a butterfly in their honor… Of sharing their image on The Memory Boards (if you wish), of saying their name out loud in a place where others WANT TO HEAR.  It is truly a Day of Community and Caring, where our deceased loved ones bring us together and hold us in their hearts, as we hold them.

 PLEASE JOIN US

Allow Yourself A Summer Day Of Traveling With Your Deceased Child.

Encourage Your Family And Friends To Share The Day With You;

To Help You To Celebrate And To Remember

The Life That May No Longer Be Present In Body

But Will Always Be Present In Your Heart

Your Life, Your Dreams, Your Memory.

 Chapters are welcomed to bring Chapter Banners

Posters, Signs, Memory Board Postings, Stories, Poems are embraced.

 We are the Only State Hosing an Annual STATEWIDE WALK TO REMEMBER.  BE PART OF IT. 

Information about

♥   Free Registration
♥   What to Bring
♥   What to Wear
♥  The Park, The Picnic, The People
♥   “Reserving” Photo T-Shirts
♥   “Reserving” Butterflies for The Release

http://www.walktorememberct.org/details/

Please forward the information to your Chapter Members, even if you can’t make it yourself.
We are hoping to have 100% of Connecticut’s Chapters represented at
A DAY OF COMMUNITY and CARING

A WALK TO REMEMBER 2013
Let us show the rest of the Nation that Connecticut Thrives on Hope, Caring and Community
WE DO NOT WALK ALONE

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Walk to Remember ~ Coming Together In Strength, Love and Caring

June 2012, at The Compassionate Friends East of the River monthly meeting a newly bereaved grandfather spoke quietly, but strongly.  Living outside of the United States, he had blessedly made it to Connecticut in time to cradle his ailing grandson in his arms.  Baby Luke had lived only a short 5 months and all of it in the Nic-U, but he made an impact on the lives around him.  His family was aching  from his loss only a few months before.  As his Grandfather shared his emotions, all were filled with rapt and reverent silence.  It was his first, and perhaps only, time attending a Compassionate Friends meeting.  But he found tremendous value in attending with his wife, his daughter and her spouse.

He held up his hand, fingers spread apart.  Each finger, he expressed, represented each of us in The Compassionate Friends support group.  We each were there, he explained, separate and yet connected.  Then he made a fist and said that this was all of us together, More Powerful, More Capable and filled with Strength!

How right he is!

As bereaved parents, grandparents, siblings, most of us can find ways to slowly survive after the death of a ‘child’ in our family, whether or not we ever attend a The Compassionate Friends Meeting.  Life plugs along and goes on, whether or not we remain passive unwilling participants or we find ways to slowly come back to wanting to live a fulfilling life again.  But together, through our relationships built through The Compassionate Friends, we learn not only that we are not alone, but that we are not crazy in our emotions and experiences following the death of someone who was part of us.  Alongside the others in our new Compassionate Friends Family, we find strength….strength to go on in the darkest and most horrible time in our lives…strength to allow the tears to flow, the laughter to return, the memories to be shared.

One can survive the death of their child or sibling without ever attending the peer-to-peer support group, but to sit along side of others who “get it”, who we don’t have to mask with, who understand our deepest, most scary emotions, without us barely having to say a word, is like The Fist.  We become connected to others, and through that connection comes a vital strength and possibilities of “MORE”…We learn, together, albeit very slowly, that there Can Be More; even though for the first few years following the death of our child or sibling, most of us might wonder how life will ever be More again, or even why we would want More.  We are all so singularly fractured after the death that rebuilding a life seems not only daunting, but, often unwanted.  But with the others next to us, supporting us, caring for us, experiencing with us, we begin to regain that strength….like the fist held up by Luke’s grandfather.  The journey is never good, never easy, never pleasurable, but alongside of our Compassionate Friends Family, it is less horrible then if we were alone.

Every year at the Annual Walk to Remember, bereaved parents, grandparents, siblings, family, friends, as well as community leaders and supportive others come together like the fingers of that first.  This year The East Of the River CT Chapter of The Compassionate Friends will be hosting the 3rd Annual Statewide Walk to Remember on Sunday July 21.  The Walk is held concurrently in the same month as the National Walk to Remember ®, this year held in Boston, MA.  Patterned after the National Walk, which was created by THE COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS in 2002, as a symbolic way to show the love that bereaved families carry for the children they mourn, our local walk provides a Day of Community and Caring ~ a day of Remembrance ~ A Safe, Compassionate Gathering where we can shout out the names of our deceased loved ones, tell their stories and hold them not only in our own hearts, but share them with others.

The Connecticut Walk isn’t just about THE WALK.  After the gentle 1.5 mile stroll through Center Springs Park and a few blocks of both business and residential streets of Manchester, our East Of The River CT chapter provides FREE burgers and hot dogs; families contribute to pot luck, there are Memory Boards to share photos and stories of loved ones, time to sit and talk, sharing memories not only of their deaths, but of their Lives.  Peaceful, yet inspiring music adds a comforting backdrop.  The afternoon ends about 4:00 after a brief Remembrance Ceremony and the release of butterflies.

Both The Walk to Remember and our regular The Compassionate Friends Monthly Meetings reaffirm that WE NEED NOT WALK ALONE as bereaved families.  Like the fingers that come together to make the fist, as Luke’s grandfather reminded us, we derive a strength from being Together.

The 3rd Annual Statewide
WALK TO REMEMBER

FREE COMMUNITY EVENT
As hosted by
The Compassionate Friends East Of The River CT Chapter
July 21, 2013 Rain or Shine
(butterfly release will be postponed is case of inclement weather)
CenterSpringsPark –Manchester,Connecticut
Pre-registration requested at WalktoRememberCT.org
Check in and on-site late registration  11:00 am    Walk 12:00 am
Cookout begins about 1:30
Remembrance Ceremony and Butterfly Release about  2:30
Park reserved for fishing, conversation and more until 4:00
Personalized Walk To Remember T Shirts available by pre-order only

Donations will be accepted Day of the Walk
and can also be made on line through our Team
HOLDING HANDS HUGGING HEARTS
On the safe
FRIENDS HELPING FRIENDS® On-Line Virtual Fund–Raising Walk Site

EVERYONE is invited!

♥    Bereaved Families, their friends and support
♥    Community Leaders
♥  Social, Medical, Religious Personnel
♥ Any one who would like to attend the National WALK TO REMEMBER® but won’t be able to make it to Costa Mesa this year
♥ All Ten Connecticut TCF Chapters – Their Leaders, Members, Family and Friends
♥  TCF Chapters in all surrounding states
♥  Anyone who has ever lost a loved one

Pre-registration is requested


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Death Sucks! Walking Not Alone Makes it Suck Less

Death Sucks.

Let’s face it, being left behind after someone you love dies, is not a pleasant experience.   And when it is your own child, it truly SUCKS more than there are words for.

I once was in a bereavement support group after, RobynApril,  my 28 year old beautiful daughter was crushed to death in her own front yard, and when asked how I was doing, replied truthfully with  “It SUCKS.”  The facilitator was taken aback and told me that such a response was vulgar.  I still remember looking at him through glazed, tear filled eyes and asked “And what is more vulgar than the death of my child?”  What indeed?

About this time last year, I was speaking to a mom in her mid 70s.  Her son had been killed in line of duty 18 years previous as a Connecticut State Trooper.  Her daughter was taken by cancer 14 years later.  Apologizing for my possible offense to her, I told her that IT SUCKS.  “No,” she retorted, “It sucks BIG TIME!”  And we laughed together, understanding as only parents do who have lost a child, how BIG TIME, doesn’t even begin to cover it!

Those who have not experienced it, may want to be sympathetic and caring, but to really do so they have to imagine themselves standing at the casket of their own child, wearing cremation jewelry in a pendant around their necks, never seeing their own child again…and that imagination is too ugly to conjure up…and too frightening that it can become real.  So many civilians, as we often think now of those who have been spared this unimaginable pain, drift away from we bereaved parents as if we are contagious.  For many, our heartbreak is too painful for them to share.  Others grow impatient waiting for us to return to our former lighthearted, happy, joy filled selves.  What they don’t understand is how impossible it is to go back to who-we-used-to-be-before our child was ripped from our lives.  We are different people now.  EVERYTHING changed when our child took the last breath on earth.  Many of our former friends grow bored with our need to talk about our child and keep their spirit with us in the sharing of memories and stories.  So, not only do we lose our child, but we lose many people around us, who we always believed that we could count on, and painfully discovered that we couldn’t.  And we grow even more lonely and feeling alone.  And it Sucks.  Big Time.

In the beginning, many of us don’t care if we survive.  It doesn’t mean that we will purposely end our own lives; we don’t want to dishonor the memory of our child, but we don’t really care about living.  We often become passive riders rather than active participants.  The first year following the death is unbelievable pain, but there is still shock to numb and the care and comfort of some understanding friends and family.  The second year, for many bereaved parents, is much worse than the first.  Friends fade away, the protective fog wears off and the Reality begins to set in.  People often stop saying the name of our child, because they are very mistakenly afraid that if they do we will suddenly be reminded and cause pain.  The pain is always present, even if we aren’t showing it.  We are always remembering.  The third year can hit with force that is shocking.  Even if, as bereaved parents, we are becoming desensitized to the words DEATH, GONE, NOT COMING BACK, we still get hit with a Reality Check that can create agony. In the third year people really seem to need us to “be over it”, to have “moved on”  to have stopped grieving.  What “the civilian world” may not realize is not only are we considered NEWLY BEREAVED for the first full five years after our child’s death, but that we will always be our children’s parents for as long as we live, not just as long as they did.

I am told, though I don’t know because I haven’t gotten there yet, that the sharp pain of grief begins to soften more noticeably around the 5th year as we fall into the now-familiar rhythm of the empty space in our lives,

I am pretty sure that it will Still SUCK.  Because my daughter will still be dead.  Ask my friend who cremated her son 19 years ago.  BIG TIME!

Being around others who “get it”, who not only don’t cringe when we speak our children’s names, but ask to hear the stories, want to meet them through our memories, is a ray of light in the darkness forced upon us.  As time passes, we are forced to speak less and less about “the child gone too soon”.  Yet we Never Forget.  We Need To Remember.

The Compassionate Friends is the largest peer-to-peer bereavement support group for those who suffer the death of a child, grandchild, or sibling; gone from any cause, from any age- pre-birth to full maturity.  There are 10 TCF Chapters located in Connecticut and over 660 in the United States with chapters in 30+ more countries internationally.

 “The Compassionate Friends
is about transforming the pain of grief into the elixir of hope.
It takes people out of the isolation society imposes on the bereaved
and lets them express their grief naturally.
With the shedding of tears, healing comes.
And the newly bereaved get to see people who have survived
and are learning to live and love again.”
 

~Simon Stephens, founder of The Compassionate Friends

Jim and I founded the TCF East Of The River CT Chapter in 2010, partly to help others who were experiencing the horrible pain we know all too well, but also to continue to help ourselves.  Our “new family” and “new friends” are mostly those whom we have met through The Compassionate Friends Meetings and conferences.

On Sunday, July 21, we will join others in the 3rd Annual Statewide WALK TO REMEMBER®.

Together, we will share a day of Community and Caring ~ a day of Remembrance ~ A Safe, Compassionate Gathering where we can shout out the names of our deceased loved ones, tell their stories and hold them not only in our own hearts, but share them with others!
Throughout the month of July, TCF Chapters all over the United States will host their own walks, but Connecticut is the only state hosting a Statewide Walk to involve its entire 10 TCF Chapters, their families and friends.  Not limited to The Compassionate Friends Members, Anyone and Everyone who knows the pain of the death of someone they love is welcome to come and WALK ALONG SIDE US for this FREE EVENT.
(pre-registration is requested)

We will be Holding Hands and Hugging Hearts.
We will be sharing and listening to stories of those who have gone too soon.
We Will Remember With Love.
We Will Cry and We Will Laugh.

And we will Walk with Others who understand, Who “Get it”, Who Care.

And it will STILL SUCK.
But Not As Much.

Anyone interested in walking or finding more out about the event can visit the website or  call the Walk Information Line 860-578-HUG2 (4842) .

The TCF East Of The River CT Chapter
meets the third Thursday of every month 6:30 p.m.
Hilton Inn & Suites ~ Pleasant Valley Rd  Manchester.
For more information, call Bettie-Jeanne at 860-375-EØTR (3087) or visit www.TCFEastOfTheRiverCT.org
 For information about the national organization and other chapter locations, call toll-free 877-969-0010 or visit TCF’s national web site at CompassionateFriends.org. The Compassionate Friends has a presence in at least 30 countries worldwide.

 

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Robyn Joins On My First Walk To Remember – Ever

I am taking a look back with this reprinted article, circa July 2010, remembering why I keep going to the National Walk To Remember and how this First One, inspired  our TCF EOTR  Connecticut’s Annual Statewide Walk to Remember each year since…..

THE NATIONAL WALK TO  REMEMBER

July 4th ~ Arlington, Virginia.  8:00 a.m.

While “civilians” ‘back home’ loaded their cars with potato salads, lawn chairs and fireworks before heading out for their Independence Day picnics, a reverent, yet upbeat magnitude of Compassionate Friends Walkers began to gather. There are no words to adequately describe the emotion of seeing groups numbering nearly 1,500 Compassionate Friends, walking together in Remembrance of their children, siblings grandchildren.  Nearly all wore white tee shirts, the WALK TO REMEMBER LOGO  and their child or sibling’s photo button adorning the front, and many added pictures of their child on the back.  Individuals and representative from various Chapters carried signs and banners, loving listing names of those gone too soon.  Over 10,000 names were carried…an absolutely awesome number.  Jim and I added names of children from our Chapter to our  Walk to Remember “signs”.

The 2 mile walk took place as the heat began to pour from the pavement and the air was heavy with humidity….but no one seemed to care.  We were all there for a purpose ~ to collectively honor our loved ones, and to give each other strength, fellowship and love.  IT wasn’t a SAD Walk; it was a STRONG Walk. At the midway point there was a mini-park where walkers took breaks, enjoyed the mist of the waterfall, and shared memories of their loved ones.  It was there that I had a very personal and touching experience.  Needing a break from my emotions, I took a short walk off of the path and began to cry.  “Are you with me, Robyn?” I sobbed, thinking of all of the fund-raising walks we had done together.  “Are you there?”, I whispered.
mommy and baby robin

No sooner had the words left my mouth, then a baby robin hopped directly into the path in front of me!  Camera in hand, I laughed and cried, as I began to snap photos with shaking hands.  Suddenly, the mother robin appeared, chasing after the baby and then stopping to feed it. For several minutes I was alone in the world, watching as a mom nourished and then protected her baby robin.  Then the baby hopped off and the mom first began to go after it and then hopped away in another direction, I presume to focus my attention on her, to leave her baby safe.  Our trip to the National Compassionate Friends Conference has already been worth every cent and every mile, but in that one moment, I felt in the Absolute Glory  of not only Nature, but in All Possibilities.

Bettie-Jeanne, Robyn’s mom

huddling at WTR 2010 National

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