Coventry, England

                                            The Gift

                                          I have a gift

                     I did not want this gift, it meant suffering and pain

                                    The pain because of love.

                         A love which had manifested itself in a child.

                    The child brought its love to me and asked for my love.

                             Sometimes I did not understand this.

                      Sometimes I was to busy to listen quietly to this love.

                           But the love persisted; it was always three.

                                  And one day the child died.

                                      The loved remained.

                             This time the love came in other forms.

                                 This time there were memories,

                                there was sadness and anguish.

                                      And believable pain.

                          One day a stranger came and stood with me.

                               The stranger said," I understand",

                                            and did.

                          You see the stranger had also been this way.

                                 We talked and cried together.

                        The stranger became my friend as no other had.

                           My friend said" I am always here" and was.

                                    One day I lifted my head

                     I noticed another grieving, gray and drawn with pain

                                    I approached and spoke.

                                    I touched and comforted.

                                  I said, I will walk with you",

                                            and I did.

                                       I also had the gift.

                                   Joe Lawley, TCF Co Founder

                                    Coventry, England, 1969

     from a Compassionate Friends Newsletter

 If they only knew that when I speak of him, I am not being morbid. I am
 proclaiming his life.  I am learning to live with his absence. For  26
 years, he was a part of my life, born, nurtured, molded and loved;  this
 cannot be put aside to please those who are uncomfortable with my grief.
 Where ever I am,  I am with him, I am seeing his face, hearing his voice,
 remembering his laughter,  recalling  his excitement and joy in life.

  If  only they knew that when I weep, I  weep for what he has lost, for
the life he loved,  for the music which filled  his very being, and for  all
he still  longed to see and hear.   For all that he loved and lost, I cry.

 If only they knew the feeling of deep grief, the emptiness, the dull pain,
 the endlessness of death  ; if only they understood the insanity  of
platitudes so freely spoken that "time heals"' that"
you'll get over it, " that  "crying wont bring him back",
 that ," he's in a better place ", that God only takes the best", and  "
get on with  your life already,"  and realize that  these are more of an
insult than a comfort ;  that  the warm and compassionate touch of another
means so much more.

 If they only knew that we will not find true peace and tranquility until
 they are prepared to try to stand in our shoes.  We will not
 be understood until they learn to understand compassionately
 and we will not be heard until they learn to listen with their hearts.

~This was shared by a bereaved mom after reading the article "But the Pain
>is Getting Worse" by Mary Cleckley
Truer words were never spoken.  I went thru everything talked about here, and it took me 2 years to "come out of it."  There were times I hurt so bad I could not breathe.  There were times I didn't care if I took another breath. The times I tried to grocery shop, spot a jar of peanut butter (my son's favorite brand) and fall on the store floor, sobbing, unable to finish shopping.  The places I avoided (McDonald's, Wendy's etc.) places where my son and I had went together.  Every time I heard someone call out "MOM", I'd turn, and choke up and fall apart. The bargains I made with God, like "Give him back to me, I'll do ANYTHING just GIVE HIM BACK TO ME."  The closing off of all family & friends.  Not wanting to see nor talk to anyone, not wanting them to "see" me as I saw myself.  I never stopped to think what I was putting my own parents through as they saw me deteriorate daily.  But at the time, I could have cared less. So many feelings, so many emotions, so much pain. And I can truthfully say,now, after 22 years of losing my only child at the time............I'm ok. Oh, I still have "bad" days, and not a single day goes by that I don't think of him.  But at Christmas every year, it still hurts to know one is missing. It still tugs at the heartstrings when I wonder, he's a man now, what would I be buying him if he were here?  Or what would he be doing had he lived?  What would he look like now?  Would I be a grandma by now? Those are the things I think of now.  But no matter how much time goes by, no matter how many books I read, things people say to me.........things I hear others say about how they cope...I've learned one thing.............that I am not alone.  And at one time, I really thought I was.  I found the compassionate friend's chat room about 10 months ago. Back in 1977, nothing like that existed. We had no one else to talk to. Oh, there was our ministers, but unless they had lost a child, how could they understand what we felt?  And after all these years, I've kept things "hidden" deep inside, I guess you could call it the "PAIN" I didn't let anyone see.  And I always walked alone, though no one really knew it.  But by finding the TCF room, and talking to others who KNEW my pain,.........even I, who thought I was ok and doing great with my son's death.............needed someone to talk to.  Today, when I meet parents who are newly bereaved, I send them there immediately..for I think it is the start of a healing process that for me, would not have taken the long, long time it did, had I not had to walk it alone.  God Bless.

The Water Bug Story
Author Unknown

Down below the surface of a quiet pond lived a little colony of water bugs. They were a happy colony, living far away from the sun. For many months they were very busy, scurrying over the soft mud on the bottom of the pond. They did notice that every once in a while one of their colony seemed to lose interest in going about with its friends. Clinging to the stem of a pond lily, it gradually moved out of sight and was seen no more.

"Look!" said one of the water bugs to another, "One of our colony is climbing up the lily stalk. Where do you think she's going?" Up, up, up it slowly went... Even as they watched, the water bug disappeared from sight. Its friends waited and waited but it didn't return...

"That's funny!" said one water bug to another... " Wasn't she happy here?" asked a second... "Where do you suppose she went?" wondered a third... No one had an answer. They were greatly puzzled.

Finally one of the water bugs gathered its friends together. "I have an idea. The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk must promise to come back and tell us where he or she went and why." "We promise" they said solemnly.

One spring day not long after the very water bug who had suggested the plan found himself climbing up the lily stalk. Up, up, up he went. Before he knew what was happening, he had broken through the surface of the water and fallen into the broad and free lily pad above.

When he awoke, he looked about with surprise. He couldn't believe what he saw. A startling change had come over his old body. His movement revealed four silver wings and a long tail.

Even as he struggled, he felt an impulse to move his wings... The warmth of the sun soon dried the moisture from his new body. He moved his wings again and suddenly found himself above the water.

He had become a dragonfly. Swooping and dipping in great curves, he flew through the air. He felt exhilarated in the new atmosphere.

By and by the new dragonfly landed happily on a lily pad to rest. Then it was that he chanced to look below to the bottom of the pond. Why, he was right above his old friends, the water bugs! There they were scurrying around, just as he had been doing some time before.

Then the dragonfly remembered the promise. without thinking, the dragonfly darted down. Suddenly he hit the surface of the water and bounced away. Now that he was a dragonfly, he could no longer go into the water...

"I can't return!" he said in dismay. "At least I tried. But I can't keep my promise. Even if I could go back, not one of the water bugs would know me in my new body. I guess I'll just have to wait until they become dragonflies too. Then they'll understand what has happened to me, and where I went."

And the dragonfly winged off happily into its wonderful new world of sun and air...

The Second Year by Madelaine Perri Kasden     June 17, 1996

Yesterday was a year sent I buried my son, That's when I thought my pain had begun How naive I was not to fear The hell awaiting in the second year.

Memories have dimmed, desolation's increased The world doesn't give a damn that my child is deceased. The phony face and smile I'm compelled Conceal my silent scream, "It's just not fair!"

At bereavement groups, though I weep and moan, I find solace in the credo, "We need not walk alone." I beseech all "civilians" with families intact, Don't judge my grief, don't tell me how to act!

Time has stripped away the shock but my wounds are raw, I wish I could die, too - I can't take it anymore! The torment in my soul never, ever ends.. I live because I'm blessed with Compassionate Friends.