The Compassionate Friends (TCF) support parents, siblings and grandparents after a child dies, regardless of age or cause of death. The care and compassion comes from people who have lived through their own loss, sharing their experiences and giving newly bereaved families hope that a life can be built around the death of their loved one, while finding a way to continue a bond with their child, their sibling or their grandchild.
This organisation saved my life. It is my haven and it is home.
When Bree passed away, her illness was so rare, she was the only person in Australia to have died from this particular disease, so there were no support groups. I didn’t have close friends and limited support systems. I was very alone for three years and hadn’t spoken to another bereaved parent.
During this time, people around me were saying things like “I’d thought you’d be over it by now” (after 6 months!), “Have another child” (as if that could replace Bree), or the similar “At least you’re young enough to have another child.” I did have another child and I love him more than life itself, but he is not my daughter. He does not replace Bree.
The problem is, when EVERYONE is saying these things, this becomes your only point of reference, so I was reaching breaking point. I believed something was wrong with me. Why wasn’t I okay? I had my young son, but I couldn’t stop deeply grieving my daughter. I thought of suicide often.
I moved to Melbourne and made contact with a couple of organisations and was told I didn’t fit their criteria for support or because I hadn’t used their services while Bree was alive, I couldn’t use their bereavement services. I was drowning.
That was until a chance encounter resulted in being told about TCF and a number kindly being placed in my hand.
I made that first phone call and spoke to a woman who had also lost a daughter. I could barely speak, but she talked about her daughter and how she still deeply grieved for her. She talked about having trouble sleeping, how she could be laughing one minute and in tears the next. I hung on every word for over an hour because she was talking the same language as me. I received an information pack in the mail, helping to explain normal grief reactions and I devoured every single word.
I went in and met other bereaved parents and for the first time in such a long time, I felt normal. I can still remember that sense of relief and it has been nearly 16 years. I have no doubt in my mind that this is when my healing journey began.
This organisation is mostly run by volunteers, all of whom are bereaved themselves. It is barely known in the community, but the support and care they provide in being with families during the most traumatic life event is priceless.
I’m hoping to raise funds ensuring that TCF continues to exist to provide support to all the new families that face the devastating loss of a child and make that first phone call. Nothing can compare to talking to someone who truly understands this pain. I want everyone to know about this beautiful organisation so no one is ever in the situation I was in.
Thank you for helping me do this in memory of Bree.