The countdown has well and truly started. In just one month’s time, I’ll be walking the Camino – The Way – a pilgrimage route starting in Porto and finishing in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Together with my friend Margaret, we hope to walk all 280 kms, all being well.
My main motive for walking is for peace and in remembrance of my two children. Raising money for charity is a bonus and it’s The Compassionate Friends (TCF) who will be the beneficiary. Here’s why.
My little son Pax died at the age of 3 while that I was living and working in India in 1982. I had virtually no support of any kind following his death – I really didn’t know how to cope with it so I suppressed my grief. This is a story I’ve told elsewhere ( see here if you want to know more.).
My remaining child Catherine, a beautiful witty young woman, took her life on April 13th 2011. She had suffered for more than 10 years from mental illness, but I was completely shocked. To say I was out of my mind with grief is not an understatement. All of my suppressed grief about Pax now came to the fore. I was overwhelmed.
One day during the traumatic weeks after Catherine’s death, I was sitting at my computer, wandering through the internet, seeking some clues as to how I was going to survive. And that’s when I came across TCF.
I joined the private internet forum that TCF runs. Here I discovered that I was not as alone as I thought I was. There were other parents, other mothers, who had also experienced the throes of agony at the loss of a child or more than one child. I could go on the forum at any time of the day and night and find solidarity.
The companionship I found on the forum was later replicated in person as I met TCF members and attended support days.
It wasn’t that my interaction with other bereaved parents could help me make sense of my children’s deaths, but it did help me make sense of my grief. I saw that the turmoil of thoughts and feelings was not abnormal, and accepting this helped as I leaned into my grief and was carried by its waves.
There were other things going on in my life, other forms of support, and TCF was part of the picture, not the whole picture. But certainly TCF is one of the reasons I am here today.
My story is just one example of why TCF is a worthwhile charity to support, I hope if you are able, you will donate. Thank you!
Find out more about The Compassionate Friends: http://www.tcf.org.uk
(At the moment I’m posting bits and pieces now and again on my 1StepCamino blog, mostly about preparation and local walks, but it will go live once I am in Portugal. It’s mostly pictures and descriptions of walks and walking, and some musings.)
It wasn’t that my interaction with other bereaved parents could help me make sense of my children’s deaths, but TCF did help me make sense of my grief.