After The Compassionate Friends Conference

I just came back from attending my second Compassionate Friends National Conference and Walk to Remember.  As I was trying to come up with a way to describe the experience, I found this post on my facebook wall from my dear friend and brilliant author Mitch Carmody!  It sums up what all who attend feel upon returning home.  I am thankful that he and many others take time to  walk this journey of both pain and joy with us as the help us heal.  I am honored to be able to share this gracious gift with the kind permission from Mitch!   Please be sure to visit his website at

Mitch writes:

For all those bereaved family members who attended the 35th annual TCF conference held in Costa Mesa Californias this past week :

Degriefing, Traveling to Planet Grief and Back – 2012

I am continually amazed at the choreography of the dance that I experience at a TCF national conference and the huge impact is has on my body, mind and spirit when I walk off the dance floor and return home. From spending 3 or 4 days on “planet grief” we return home to the mundane realities of the real world and try to blend in with its preoccupied inhabitants who for the most part know nothing of our secret planet. They don’t wear buttons of a dead child pinned to their clothing; they don’t wear name tags around their neck identifying their loss, and for most part don’t wear butterfly clothing or TCF T-shirts with a broken red heart.

When I return to work I get surprised looks from people who are caught off guard when I hug them good morning without thinking. I feel a deep separation anxiety for my fellow travelers to planet grief with its honest hugs, cathartic kisses, and deep seated dialogues. The heart I wore on my sleeve now feels vulnerable and exposed to the harsh elements of the daily routine and the machine of the workaday world. I am jonesing for my friends, my family of wounded survivors who succor my soul and I theirs in our dance of recovery. In a word I feel “drifty” and lost for a few days; like getting your land legs back slowly after a week at sea I feel unsteady and unbalanced and I weep easily. I miss my family from planet grief and feel the impact of its loss for another year.

Today I am decompressing, degriefing so to speak, remembering and cherishing the magic moments of the weekend and thanking God for the privilege to be there and serve the bereaved with every quark of my being. I help to facilitate healing in the most sacred of places, the human heart and soul. I am always humbled and healed myself by the experience. Cost Mesa California with its oceans of love and mountains of memories was an incredible experience and I had a lot of quality time with my family of the heart. I met many newly bereaved and made new friendships wish I will cherish as much as the old.

We all come to planet grief from many different worlds. Worlds of all kinds; a plethora of differences in race, age, religion, occupation, economic class, intellect and political views, yet we congregate as one family and find a common ground in compassion; finding common ground in love. It is in helping to heal that we are healed ourselves, like one beggar sharing his bread with another beggar both are sustained for another day.

On the walk a few years ago held in Washington D.C. it was revealed to us that TCF had to register our Sunday TCF walk as a protest if we were to walk as a group on the streets of our nation’s capital. First I was surprised then thought about it…and you know that’s quite alright -we are protestors. We have our signs, our banners, our bibs, our T-shirts, our name tags and buttons. We all arrived from a network of paths and losses as varied as the stars and together on common ground we protest society’s ignorance of our forever journey and the injustice that is to our hearts. We are the compassionate friends, we need not walk alone.

Together we are changing the world views of grief and loss. We are educating the fortunate others of our journey and how we survive. We are intentional survivors who are working on our grief proactively, living our loss, not letting go, not get over, not becoming bitter, but becoming better and turning loss to legacy and honoring of loved one.

God bless you all and until we meet again…like Brigadoon “planet grief” appears for a few days in the summer and for a short time we find the camaraderie of hope, hugs and heart to sustain us for another year. See you in Boston.
Peace, love and light
Mitch Carmody

Please visit Mitch’s website at or on his facebook page

Thank You


  1. Sue Barker says:

    Thank you for your post. It held a lot of meaning for me also.

  2. Denise Orsak says:

    Mitch puts into words exactly what I am feeling after the conference. What a wonderful Man.

  3. Olivia Garcia says:

    Sorry we didn’t get to meet! I thought the conference was fantastic! His words are lovely..

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