Hello fellow bereaved parents, grandparents, and siblings.
I am writing this article in anticipation of my attendance at the 42ndNational Conference of The Compassionate Friends (TCF). If you are at the conference or online, I hope you will feel the love and support of all those who give their time and talents sharing love and hope by honoring all of our children.
Some ask why I am still attending and presenting at the conference 36 years after the death of my son Scott. Is it because I can’t “get over” it or I haven’t found “closure”? Well, as a friend likes to point out, “closure is for bank accounts, not love accounts.” I never want to “get over” Scott. He is still a guiding light that brings joy to my life through the many experiences and friends I have been privileged to meet.
Over the years, I have had many interactions with our TCF family. I would like to share one such experience that expresses why I continue my love and support for TCF.
It was some 14 years ago when TCF’s executive director asked me if I would do an online radio show which TCF could then put on the organizations website. After much thought and discussion, I agreed to do 11 shows. It was a package with a company called Voice America. TCF was on the cutting-edge as non-profit websites were fairly new and pay-for-play online radio was a recent phenomenon.
I was terrified to record my first few shows and hired a veteran radio producer to talk me through the process. After recording nine of the 11 shows, I received an email from Elisa who wrote, “I am looking on the TCF website and I see that you are only going to do two more radio shows. Please do not stop you are my lifeline.”
I still get teary when I read that note. Needless to say, I never stopped. My daughter Heidi joined me to give a sibling’s voice, and we have now produced over 500 interviews with inspiring guests who give a voice to grief and recovery.
With the new technology, we have expanded into podcasts as well as Facebook Live with over one million listeners annually. Amazing how The Compassionate Friends and a note from one bereaved parent changed my life.
I know that dark place, and if you are there, reach out and embrace your community and look for opportunities for service. Your local TCF chapter is a great place to start. Below are a few of the things that I love about TCF’s meetings and conferences. I am sure that you could add to the list:
Listening to the voices and stories of others who are a little further down the road.
Getting and giving encouragement from the bereaved.
Being in a community with those who understand the immense loss of a child, grandchild, or sibling.
Getting a handshake, smile, or a hug from those who are or have been in the darkest places.
Developing lasting and meaningful relationships with the biggest hearts on the earth.
May God bless you. Please feel free to lean on our hope until you find your own. As Winston Churchill said, “never, never, never give up.”
Use the chapter locator to find out information about chapters in your area. Locate a Chapter by selecting your state and zip code.