Page 4 - 2017 Autumn-Winter Issue
P. 4

Exit to Hope

                                          On the road trip to The Compassionate Friends headquarters in Oak Brook, IL to
                                          become the Executive Director of The Compassionate Friends, I saw the interstate exit
                                          sign for the town of “Hope”. It was very fitting to see this symbolic sign on the way to
                                          serving in a new capacity. Thinking of the exit, I pondered how wonderful it would
                                          have been for someone to be standing beside the road pointing to the exact exit I
                                          needed to take to exit the agony of grief and enter into a world of hope.

                                          Initially, there seemed to be a fog protecting us from the devastation of our son dying.
                                          But as weeks and months went by, I began to see more clearly and also felt the deep,
                                          deep pain more immensely. We all attempt to try to pull ourselves and our families
                                          back together. We start searching for what others refer to as a new normal. I tried a
                                          number of counselors, groups, books, and even a little “retail therapy”.

                                          In my personal journey, initially I didn’t see anyone standing on the roadside to guide
me to where I needed to go. The streets I traveled that were once familiar were suddenly unfamiliar. I did not know my way
whether walking or driving. What was once comfortable and enjoyable for me brought fear and uncertainty. Friends and family
saw the struggle was real. They did their best and tried to console with well-intentioned words that somehow offended me.

I am sure my journey is not unique. I am sure you have experienced the same things. As I have listened to others, it seems
common to travel through grief first moving away from the fog and then into a world unknown. I do now believe that very
clearly there are countless TCF volunteers standing and holding signs guiding families from the fog to hope.

It is a long journey and one that is not easy. I personally believe it is a lifelong journey. Not a life of despair but a life of
learning to carry the burden of child loss, learning to find joy again, and learning to first remember that they lived rather
than that they died. I know everyone can learn to live with this new normal. As we all know, there was no training for this.
We did not even want to think about losing any of our children. It was unexpected even if their death was expected.

If you haven’t yet, trust in me that you can find hope again through grief work. I have hope again. It is a different hope than
before but no less strong. I have hope that my son’s memory will not fade but will remain vivid through my talking about
him and sharing him with anyone who will listen. I have hope that I can help others walk through grief. I have hope that
The Compassionate Friends will be there for those that do not know
yet that they need us.

Know that helping is healing. If you are far enough along in this
journey, please help our others, just as others were there for you, by
being a beacon along the road side to guide others emerging from
the fog. When you go to a meeting or join online in a discussion,
understand that those ten or twenty years away from when their child,
grandchild, or sibling died are not there because they do not have
hope, but are there to be a beacon for others.

Rose Kennedy watched four of her nine children die. One son died
fighting in WWII, two sons were assassinated, and her daughter died
in a plane crash. After all these loses, she stated, “Birds sing after a
storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever sunlight
remains to them?” There is sunlight remaining. Look for the exits to
hope though they may be hard to see at times. Find hope with The
Compassionate Friends, knowing that you need not walk alone.

I look forward to continue holding a beacon for others. Please feel free
to send me your ideas on how best to be beacons of hope at Debbie@

4 |We Need Not Walk Alone
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