Compassionate Friends meeting


Let’s try this again.  I had an entire entry written last night, then I went to delete the last paragraph and it deleted the entire page.  At 1:00am I decided to call it a night and try again in the morning.  esh

Marc and I went to our first Compassionate Friends meeting last night. We’d planned on going last month but it didn’t work out and this month I’d totally forgotten until yesterday morning.  Thankfully Johanna was free to babysit and Marc and the girls were all sufficiently recovered from their illnesses that we felt we could try again.  We discovered that it is exactly one hour from our house to the United Church in downtown Kamloops which is good because we were there half an hour early and spent twenty of those minutes trying to figure out how to get into the building!  We could see lots of people inside, a big meeting going on downstairs and people in the church itself but all the doors were locked.  As it turned out we were on the wrong side of the building and needed to go in where there was a sign for the preschool.

Not entirely sure what I was expecting but the meeting was very nice.   I knew going into it that there was no pressure to share so I wasn’t overly nervous or anxious.   There was a lady there who had been coming for six years and last night was her first time sharing!     The meetings are confidential so one can’t share what is said, but I can say that in all honesty it is the first time I sat in a room of people, in this case seven other than Marc and I, and I didn’t feel the least bit judged by what I said.  I judged myself of course because I shared that one of the hardest things over the last year was still having to function as a mother for Catherine and Zoe and try meeting the needs of Johanna, Joseph, and Paul, all the while feeling like I am dying inside.  I didn’t intend to blurt it out, it just came rushing forth when the lady running the meeting asked me if I had anything to share – after I’d passed on my turn.  It was only later that I learned that there were others in the room who had lost their only child.  And yet, I didn’t feel judged or condemned.  The lady who lost her only child only said she had an easier time in that after her son was killed she could concentrate on herself and didn’t even have to get out of bed in the morning if she didn’t want to.  She showed concern for my struggle without the slightest hint that she’d have loved to have been in my shoes.  It was a completely different experience than I’ve ever had  before.  Had I said that in a different group I would likely have heard from someone, “Well you know how lucky you are to still have two small children to take care of.  Some bereaved moms would give their right arm to be in your shoes.”   Last night we didn’t feel any judging, condemning, accusing, or any expectations heaped on us and there were no hurtful comments passed on as ‘help’; there was just acceptance.    It was like being in the eye of the storm where there is total peace.  This morning Marc called our experience the ‘heart of the gospel’.

Came home with a mixed bag though because there were two other things that really stood out for me.  One was that we learned it is ‘normal’ for the grief to get worse in the second year and coming years because that’s when the full reality of the situation sets in.  It was suggested that in the first year we were kind of sheltered from the full force of the loss and lived on ‘auto pilot’ so to speak.  Marc and I looked at each other in horror.  This past year has been the hardest year of our lives and now we’re told it could get worse!  My heart sank.  I guess I was hoping for encouragement that we’d been over the worst and little by little it will just get better.  On the other hand, learning that it can get worse doesn’t guarantee it will get worse and it is good to know that if it does get harder it is still ‘normal’ and not to beat ourselves up over it.

The other thing is that Tuesday was the second anniversary of Ron’s passing and just listening to the women who had lost grown children gave me a completely new awareness of what my own parents could be going through.   Along with that though came sadness and guilt that I haven’t fully been there for my mom in her heartache and suffering.  It could easily have been her sitting across the room from us pouring out her heart.  Just knowing that she could be experiencing the same pain and aloneness made my heart ache all the more.

The trip home was a little stressful with all the construction going on and it being so dark, but all in all we were happy we went and are considering going again if it works out.



By Laura Brestovansky
Having been in support groups for parents who endure miscarriage, I know how much they can help. May Compassionate Friends bring blessings to you and yours.

By Fr. David Purcell C.Ss.R.
I find it interesting that as you write about… “This past year has been the hardest year of our lives”… “Just knowing that she could be experiencing the same pain and aloneness made my heart ache all the more.” —

… I find myself chuckling a little and smiling warmly about your experience of Tuesday night. In the midst of this pain, you also radiate an ironyhumour and encouragement that gives encouragement to me. Thanks.

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