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Speaking from the Heart

As a country music fan, and a singer and songwriter who has lived in Nashville, I always loved the Hank Williams Jr. song “All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down).” For those of you who may not be familiar with the song, the title pretty much says it all. I was thinking the other day that I could easily write a parody to that song titled “All My Closest Friends (Have Lost a Child).” I am not trying to make light of the situation, but I have to tell you that nearly everyone I hang out with and who are in my inner circle are bereaved parents, grandparents or siblings.

It got me thinking; is it just me? Am I the only one who has migrated toward a preference of being in the company of those who “get it?” As I think back, this isn’t something that was premeditated or planned, it just sort of happened. The fact is, none of the people I was close to in my previous life before Ashley died had experienced this loss. And, it isn’t like one day I said to all of my old friends, “sorry but we just can’t hang out anymore.” My old friends are all good and caring people. I do not blame them, but I also don’t blame myself. My grief was like an undercurrent that swept me to a place where my priorities, needs, and wants were greatly altered.

So little by little, I began to drift and they began to drift. New people came into my life through The Compassionate Friends.  My new friends didn’t seem to care where I worked, what type of car I drove, the size of my house or which team I rooted for. While my old friends were timid and shy about discussing Ashley or death, my new friends wanted to hear all about her. My old friends cared about me and didn’t know any better, so they thought the best thing was to encourage me to move on and get over it. My new friends jumped into my puddle of grief and told me they would walk hand in hand with me, and had no yardsticks or time frames for me to do anything.

Today, I am blessed to have a group of new friends who bring great joy and comfort into my life. I still have connection to some of my old friends and I harbor no ill will toward those who are no longer in my life. I take equal responsibility for where we have come. But sometimes I wonder where I would be without TCF, how could I possibly have survived this journey without my bereaved brothers and sisters who walked with me every step of the way? This is why I love our organization. Our 700 Chapters, our online support and Facebook groups foster friendships that will last a lifetime between those who would have never met had it not been for their loss.

So, just as it is true that just like me, all my rowdy friends have settled down.  It is also true that my dearest and truest friends are those who have survived and thrived after great loss in their lives. I am a blessed man.

Thanks for the honor of allowing me to serve as your Executive Director,

Alan

Alan Pedersen

Alan Pedersen
alan@compassionatefriends.org
877-969-0010 ext. 308

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