Heading to Hope and Healing!

Tonight I am getting ready.  Getting ready to head out to my 4th Compassionate Friends Conference.  Each year that I have attended, the experience has been more than I could hope for!  Each year has been a unique experience.  It has wrapped me in every emotion that the phase of my journey encompassed.

My first year was overwhelming, exciting, sad, hopeful, healing, and very educational!  I set out to Minnesota in July of 2011 just a few weeks after Tony’s 2 yr anniversary.  I went not knowing anyone or what to expect.  I met new friends, learned about the healing powers of tears, about the down side to worrying, how over 1500 people can seem like a new found family and most importantly, I learned that everything I was feeling, every emotion both good and bad were NORMAL!  I was grieving and their was no right or wrong way and certainly no time period for my grief.  I also learned that this was a very unique, caring and compassionate group of people who I was blessed to have found.  I promised that every year after, the foundation would send a first time conference goer to share the experience, love and healing of this magnificent event.

In 2012, I once again set out to be surrounded with people and some new friends who did not care if I talked about Tony all day and night, if I cried for what appeared to be no reason or if I just sat quietly reflecting.  This trip I was introduced to a group of now friends through the scholarship winner.  What a pleasure it was to share the journey with them and my other “new” friends.  This trip I was much more able to attend conferences, chat with strangers and indulge in the luxury of compassion and love.  This year I truly immersed myself in the conference, took the opportunity to volunteer and learned so much more about grief, the journey and myself than I could have hoped for!

2013 provided me with yet another wonderful opportunity.  I was one of many on the committee for this conference.  A colleague and I had the privilege of being assigned the task of the reflection room and staging.  What an honor it was to work on such special and important aspect of the conference.  My husband joined me on this trip to Boston.  It was his first and a learning curve for the both of us.  He attended a workshop, helped stuff bags and put batteries in the candles for the candle lighting and met his own grief path head on.  I am truly a fortunate woman to have been able to share my grief journey with all those I have met.  Each and every one has influenced me in positive and productive ways.

Tomorrow, I set out, once again with my husband to attend the 2014 Conference in Chicago.  This year I am sure will provide once again a variety of learning experiences from different advantage points.  I will be presenting my first workshop titled “How to rediscover yourself after the death of a child”.  I find it comforting that I will be presenting this on Tony’s 5th anniversary.  Once again, I look forward to this years unique, healing and hopeful experiences.  I now have many, many friends who I am looking forward to seeing, hugging and reconnecting with!  The walk to remember is being held Sunday morning and it is with great honor that I will carry the names and faces of many friends children.  It truly is a compassionate group of people and I am excited, honored and blessed to have found them.

37th National Conference Logo 348X263

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