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)
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