The Compassionate Friends: Remembering our children

Andrea Bruner “Hear Here”

On Sunday, our local chapter of The Compassionate Friends held its annual Candlelighting and Memorial Service, and as usual the weather didn’t want to cooperate.

In years past, we have had freezing temperatures, gale-force winds and varying amounts of precipitation on top of the cold weather. Last year, we (our TCF group) got smart and decided to stop fighting the weather and move the event indoors. So naturally, we had decent weather last year. But this year, we had rain so we didn’t get to hold the luminary portion of our ceremony outside nor did we hang the ribbons with messages for our children that evening.

Every year there are new faces, which means there are families who have yet to mark their first Christmas without their child. Every year, watching people light candles in memory of their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, neighbors, etc., breaks my heart but at the same time seems to help fill the holes in our hearts just a little more. Our children are not forgotten. They live on in our hearts, in our words, in our memories, in our laughter and in our tears.

I get a lot of questions about The Compassionate Friends from people who’ve never been to a meeting or an event. Some may have lost their children just recently, while others may have marked several Christmases, anniversaries and birthdays without their child. Often, it’s a friend, sister, daughter or the like contacting us on behalf of someone else, and that is totally fine too.

The bottom line is, all are welcome. Parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, friends — anyone in need of a little support and understanding from those who have “been there” and maybe still “are there.” Whether it’s the first year or the 30th without your child, you are always welcome. And you don’t have to do anything, don’t have to say a word if you don’t want to or just can’t. I promise, I have had many of those times where I just sit and listen, take it in and know that there are others who know what I want to say, if I could only get past the lump in my throat. Gary has done the talking for me many times while I’ve sat there and cried.

This was Kaylee’s first candlelighting (although she had been to the TCF picnic in September), and we were proud to bring her as we honored her big brother and sister. When we got home Sunday evening, I again told her a story she’ll probably hear many times in her lifetime, about her guardian angels in Heaven and how God answers prayers. She sat in my lap and listened quietly, which isn’t always the norm for a 6-month-old. I think Faith and Lucas may have been on either side of her, listening as well.

If you think TCF might be a good organization for you or someone you know, you may be right. Except for June, July and December, our meetings are held on the second Tuesday of the month. Citizens Bank has graciously allowed us to meet at its Annex building, next to Pioneer Cemetery on lower College Avenue in downtown Batesville. Our next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 8. And if anyone wants more information or directions, you may reach me at the email address below.

(Also, one of our longtime members, Patty Cesarski, is moving out of state and we’ll be needing some new blood to step in and help with leadership roles. If anyone is interested, please let me or chapter leaders Bobby and Connie Davis know. You can call the Davises at 870-793-6529.)

Here’s praying for a peaceful and gentle holiday for all of our Compassionate Friends.

 

Andrea Bruner is the managing editor of the Batesville Daily Guard. She can be reached at andreab@guardonline.com or at the Guard office at (870) 793-2383.