MABOU: Those dealing with the loss of a child will find themselves among friends this Sunday as the ninth annual Compassionate Friends Service takes place at the Mabou Renewal Centre.
“Many of us have been affected by such a loss,” said Marion Graham, the founder of the Inverness County Chapter of Compassionate Friends. “You feel like you aren’t even going to survive. However, it helps if you can talk to people who’ve gone through the same thing. It’s like the bereaved helping the bereaved to heal.
“Grief will never really end, but it can become a little softer over time. It will last as long as love does, and that’s forever.”
Compassionate Friends is a non-profit, support organization that offers friendship, understanding, and hope to families grieving the death of a child of any age, from any cause.
The group was founded in England in 1969 and crossed the Atlantic in 1972. There are now almost 700 chapters worldwide.
This Sunday in Mabou, the evening begins with an official welcome taking place at 7 p.m. followed by the main candle lighting of the evening. That lighting is for all county residents who’ve died.
Following that is a candle lighting in honour of deceased loved ones. Weather permitting, that lighting is done outside. The Renewal Centre has accommodations inside if the weather isn’t agreeable.
This year, nurse practitioner Mary Anderson will serve as guest speaker. After her remarks, those attending will have conversation over tea.
There will also be a ‘memory table’ at the event where parents bring either pictures or memorabilia of their loved ones.
“That’s on display, and it can serve as a good conversation starter,” said Graham. “If there’s someone in the room you don’t know, you can go over and be introduced and tell your story. You can then go to the table and point their picture out.”
Graham said any family who’s suffered the loss of a child is welcome to attend.
“We don’t put any pressure on the individual person,” she said. “Some are ready and some aren’t. The thing is, when you come, you know you are walking in the same shoes as those who are there. If we help one person, one set of parents or grandparents, it’s well-worth organizing it.
“It’s easy to feel disconnected at Christmas, but this is an evening you are giving for your child — to share, to talk, and there’ll be some tears as well.”
The local Compassionate Friends gathering will be done in conjunction with similar gatherings all over the world. The celebrations are timed to take place at the same time, regardless of where you live.
Registration takes place from 6:15 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. at the Renewal Centre grounds.