Lush greenery, flowers not yet blooming down south, a beautiful view over the Tweed River...a wonderful and totally appropriate setting for the recent Compassionate Friends one day gathering in Murwillumbah. Judy Fraser and her team, plus Joy Rappo from Head Office, had spent hours the day before, getting this beautiful room in an old Queensland house ready for our Gathering. On entering, people were able to leave a photo or memory of their child on the memory table, tie a paper dove to a tree, and admire the lovely candelabra made by Ian Fraser. With all its candles alight, this adds to the ambiance in a very special way. The venue had provided hot scones, jam and cream. It was fun trying to keep the cream from running off the hot scone! But delicious.
Chapter Leader Judy Fraser welcomed all the guests, Murwillumbah member Louise Willets read the Credo, sibling Christine Fraser read the siblings credo. President of TCF NSW Jenny Wandl read an article written by TCF Founder Joe Lawley about the beginnings this worldwide organisation.
Our first speaker, Doris Zagdanski, talked about the Elephant in the Room. The one which no one wants to recognise. Doris is wise and funny and her talks are always spot on with what our bereaved and grieving people need.
We then went into small groups for a sharing session. Each of us had to choose 1 or 2 photos from a pile, and use the photos as a vehicle to talk about their feelings. This is of course entirely as and when our people feel like talking. No one has to do anything. The system worked well, with each person given time to talk and to listen to encouragement from the others.
A lovely sandwich lunch followed, with time to chat to other attendees and exchange stories and ideas.
Bernadette Arena began the afternoon session with some movements, meditation, and a talk on mindfulness. Of being in the place you are. The small exercises give one's brain time to switch off all the worries and concentrate on just one thing. Something we should all do more often.
Helen Fraser, Judy's daughter, and therefore a bereaved sibling, gave a touching talk on how losing a beloved brother affected her. Helen is a very empathetic speaker and had a lot to offer the few siblings who attended.
The success of the Gathering in Murwillumbah is proof that the amount of work going into planning these regional seminars is well worth the effort.
A big thanks to Judy and her team for a very meaningful day.