Sunday, December 29, 2013

There Are No Strangers

A chapter of Compassionate Friends in Livonia, Michigan, kindly sends me their monthly newsletter as I once spoke to their bereavement group when on a book tour. I thoroughly enjoy reading the articles either written by their members or other TCF members across the country. I was particularly touched by the following article written by Alice Monroe of the Mesa County, Colorado, chapter. I found it to be a true picture of what you would find if you, as a bereaved parent, were to attend  your first meeting as a bereaved parent, and I wanted you to have a chance to read it. Below is the article.

There is a tenderness among bereaved parents. A gentleness far beyond “normal” interactions with people in everyday life. We speak softly to each other and silently acknowledge our mutual vulnerability and fragility. That doesn’t mean we might not hurt each other from time to time through a misunderstanding, but it seems to me, the hurt is never meant to be. We have hurt enough already.

Somehow, there is forgiveness among bereaved parents. Forgiveness that comes from knowing we are just struggling human beings trying to make the best of our lives that will have, forever, an empty hole.

There is a quiet beauty among bereaved parents. A beauty that comes out of the experience of being hit with such pain and love all mixed together that words completely fail us.

There is courage among bereaved parents. The courage to get up, get dressed, and face another day.

We look to each other for the tenderness, the forgiveness, the beauty, and the courage. How often we say, “I’m so glad to know you…but I wish we had not met like this.” And then we often add, “But, would I…could I…have ever felt so close, if it wasn’t for the pain?” Strange, isn’t it, how there are hidden gifts in the middle of unspeakable agony?

The closeness of bereaved parents and siblings is universal. I went to the National Compassionate Friends Conference where 1,500 people, from all over the world and every walk of life attended. It didn’t take a name tag to identify each other. Formal introductions weren’t necessary. The question, “What do you do for a living?” never came up. The words most often spoken were, “Tell me about your child (or brother or sister).” There were no strangers. Even if you were not there…you were there. The invisible link…is love.