Our 2019 news and looking onwards to 2020

Here are a few updates as we approach the end of the year.

2019 has been a very busy year for John and I personally. We led nine ‘Living with Loss’ events which involved quite a bit of travelling. We met some lovely people – in fact I think everyone we met is lovely – and I mean that literally – because it is loving hearts that are broken by the death of those they care about. These are the people who come to our supportive events.

We meet as strangers, so it is not surprising that there is some tension and nervousness at the start. But it’s wonderful to see the warmth and friendship that develops so quickly, and we leave as friends. This is something that many participants comment on and I personally find it very moving.

I am also very moved by each person’s story of loss. We don’t “go around the circle and tell our stories” at the start, but as the days pass, we do get to know each other’s loved ones. Sometimes we share tears, but there are also smiles and joy as we remember what made each of them unique and special to us.

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Candlelighting service with songs and prayers at a Living with Loss Retreat. The main candles represent our faith, hopes, loved ones and our futures. Each of the small decorated candleholders represent those we had come together to remember. The tealights on the lower table represent our prayers and concerns for individuals who are in our lives today. You’ll notice there is still space in the hearts. After the loss of loved ones, we might feel as though our lives are just about finished, but we have an amazing capacity to love and care for others. It probably won’t be in the same way as for those we lost – as every person is unique and each relationship is special – but there is still room in our lives for other people. And so we journey on. (Thank you to Ken who took this picture at our Lee Abbey retreat)

What’s next

Our programme for 2020 is now arranged, with our toes also dipping into 2021.

We’ll be running four Living with Loss “Part 1” retreats in 2020 (Launde Abbey in February, Briery Centre in June, and both Lee Abbey and Penhurst Centre in November), plus two Workshops (Yorkshire and Hampshire). There will be a “Part 2” retreat at Lee Abbey on 20-24 April, and this event will be repeated on 19-23 April 2021. The other main event is the ‘Gathering’ on 13-17 July which is for anyone who has been to any of our events. It is a relaxed retreat with a focus on friendship, activities and excursions.

All of the details about the retreats are on this page, where you can also find a leaflet to download if you want to share this information with anyone.
Other Living with Loss updates

  • @with_loss is our Twitter handle. Besides our own news, we also repost articles and information about events that we think could be useful for those who are grieving and/or supporting the bereaved, so if you’re on Twitter, please do follow us.
  • There were close to 9,000 visitors to this blog this year. The most popular article by far was “The long road of grief and the dangers of losing hope (sorry, there aren’t five stages)”. If you haven’t read it yet, have a look.
  • Two articles were published about what we’re doing – in the Lee Abbey magazine, and another in the December issue of “New Life” (a Christian newspaper published in the West Midlands).

On a more personal note, I had good news after my annual CT scan and I am still cancer clear. That’s 4 years now, and it was the green light I was waiting for in order to put our plans into motion for a pilgrimage walk in Portugal/Spain next March. I’ll be walking about 280 km – one step at a time! – with my children Pax and Catherine in my thoughts – and raising funds for The Compassionate Friends. You can follow our adventures here: One Step Camino blog.

You might have guessed I’d be embarking on this eventually if you’ve been following the series of “The Way” posts.

A big thank you to everyone who we are meeting on our life’s journey, both personally and the Living with Loss project. We look forward to walking beside you next year- whether in person or via our blog or other contact.

“When we think of grief as a journey, we get a really great clue about how to survive it: by taking one step at a time.” I hope that you will find your own way through the days ahead, one step at a time, one day at a time.

Best wishes for 2020!

(Apologies to anyone who subscribes to this blog, as you might have received this post earlier before it was complete)

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