Page 11 - 2016 Spring-Summer Issue
P. 11

Brooklyn and give us a hug. Her name is Bea Barone, and to group from Oklahoma City. While skiing, one of the boys
this day I am still amazed that she drove to Brooklyn, came hit a patch of ice and fell. Trying to avoid a collision, Travis
to a stranger’s house in the middle of the day because she        lost control on the ice and hit a tree, sustaining a major
knew just how we felt... and for that I say thank you.            brain injury. Travis was Medevac’d out of the mountains to
                                                                  a major trauma center, where he was on life support for five
Steven’s story: Everyone’s grief journey is unique because        days. Along with me and my wife, family and friends began
YOU are the only person who has to make that journey.             to arrive within the first days.
As someone who identifies with the LGBT community, I              One memory from that dark time is of a Hispanic boy
do not think LGBT individuals grieve differently. There           in the next ICU room. Like Travis, he too was in a coma.
are some people who are trying to figure out who they are,        When his parents came they had the same shell-shocked
and when a loved one dies, not only do they lose a part of
themselves, they question                                                                                   look on their faces I saw
their own identity. I have                                                                                  in the mirror. Where we
                                                                                                            had family and friends
When his parents came they had theasked: who am I without                                                   flocking to our side, they
                                                                                                            seemed to have no one.
my sister? Would I be                                                                                       That scene has stuck
                                                                                                            with me for 19 years
same shell-shocked look on their faces Ithe person I am today                                               because of the contrast
                                                                                                            between our support
or would I be someone                                             system and the utter aloneness they must have felt.
                                                                  My wife and I attended our first meeting of The
saw in the mirror.totally different?                              Compassionate Friends the week after Travis’s funeral. Later,
                                                                  when I became a Chapter leader, I followed the example of
My sister Stacy died when                                         those who first helped us. It was important to me that our
I was 16 and she was                                              Chapter treated everyone as though they belonged and that
the first person I came “out” to. I did not understand my
sexuality and I did not know grief.
As I have hidden my sexuality, I notice people hide their
grief. Telling people I am gay can end a conversation before
it starts, just as when talking about our loved ones.

You might not be near a Chapter that has meetings for             we offered a safe place to share anything.
sibling--the forgotten mourners--but there is a TCF
siblings-only Facebook page where you can post how you            The boy in the next room will continue to haunt me for the
are feeling, as well as to see if there are any siblings in your  rest of my life; wondering what the outcome was, what his
area. The siblings-only page is very active; whenever you         parents went through, whether they ever received the kind
post, a sibling will respond with support and love. Grief         of support that made a difference in our lives. Nineteen
may change who you are but it does not have to define you.        years later, this continues to drive my desire to fulfill the
This is YOUR journey and no one can tell you how to do it.        vision of TCF “that everyone who needs us will find us and
                                                                  everyone who finds us will be helped.”
Gary’s story: On spring break in 1997, my 15-year-old son,
Travis, went on a snow skiing trip with his church youth

When my son Jim died in 2003, I knew I was a horrible parent. I had failed to save the precious lives of both my
children, I blamed myself. Attending meetings and conferences of The Compassionate Friends helped us extend our
friendships and a new reality bloomed in my personal circle of grief, I realized how my naivety, ignorance and isolation
set me up for additional and unnecessary pain. By sharing and collaborating with other parents who shared similar
losses, hope blossomed. Today I find new ways to parent my son and daughter while planting hope into the hearts of
others. No Shame or Blame ~ Just Love®.

                                                                                                            Barbara Allen, Jim’s and Jessie’s mom
                                                                                                      Patapsco Valley Chapter, Ellicott City, MD

                                                                                                            We Need Not Walk Alone|1 1
   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16