It’s been just over three weeks since becoming Executive Director of the best grief organization in the world. I may hold a slightly prejudiced view of our organization as it was the lifeline that allowed us to hold onto hope after the drowning death of our son in 2011. I became acclimated to The Compassionate Friends by typing my feelings to concerned readers in TCF chatrooms. It was there I first learned that we were not alone in our journey and others would in fact walk with us, and even want to talk about Tony!
We tried a few different counselors and some grief groups. Each helped us a little, but talking in the chatrooms with others who had a child die helped, by far, the most. From the TCF website, we learned there was something called a national conference. We talked about it and wondered what in the world it would be like to be around so many sad people. We wondered if we could emotionally endure such an event. We decided to load in the car and drive the 1,400 miles. This decision was one of the best decisions we could have made!
We learned that how we were grieving was how we should grieve, and that there is not a right way or a wrong way but really only your way. We met friends that filled the void of those who we thought had been our friends, but who now seemed like strangers in a faraway land. We learned that we were just entering a “new normal”. We made friends, good friends that understood and did not shy away when we wanted to tell a Tony story.
The national conference was the first of many to come for us. It is now our annual vacation with Tony. It is not a group of sad people but rather families celebrating the life of a child. If you haven’t gone to a national conference, please consider the journey to one. As winter moves in and you start thinking of next summer, consider attending the TCF national conference, “Gateway to Hope and Healing” in St. Louis, MO from July 27 to 29, 2018.
Tony’s mom, Debbie
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