Weekend Gathering 2017

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Date: 30 June - 2 July 2017

Venue: Mary McKillop Place

The Compassionate Friends NSW hosted some 46 people at our Weekend Gathering, all TCF NSW members in varying stages of their grief.

The day began with an address by our Patrons, Mary and Tony Carroll, who welcomed everyone and spoke about the value of the work done by our organisation.

The first speaker of the day was Doris Zagdanski who always has some very good common sense to impart. She asked—how many people do you know? Of these how many are real friends? There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story, but how many can we really talk to? She spoke of the necessity to tell our stories and how this might happen.

After morning tea, Rob Wild told us the story of his son Kit, who took his own life in melancholic depression. Rob said that there were few friends he could talk to, and anyway men tend to bottle things up. Sometimes it is easier to talk to strangers than friends. In support groups there are people who will talk, and non- talkers who are none the less empathetic. We must find a way to forgive those in our lives who are unable to help us.

The photo sharing session gave everyone a chance to tell some of their story and share where they were in their grief.

After lunch, Holly Smith talked about continuing the bonds with our child. There are ways of remembering without living in the past. Life has changed but retaining things that bond you with your child can be a healthy expression of grief. These things are especially good when creative. Holly talked about ways of developing continuing bonds. Annual memorial events, memory boxes, photo albums, memory quilts, poetry writing, are all positive ways of keeping alive our memories.

The breakout groups were enjoyed by all. Art Therapy with Julie Tucker had us painting scenes with rainbows. Even those who say they can’t paint or draw ended up with something respectable. In the drumming sessions we found rhythm and fun with the African drums and other instruments. The thing about drumming is that while you are doing it, you are not able to think of anything else. The rhythm takes you out of yourself. The chat session focussed on each person’s place in the tree of grief.

The candle lighting ceremony, with background flute music by Terry Oldfield, was simple and honest.

At dinner the Silent Auction was fun with a large range of goods on offer.

Sunday began with Doris giving us a series of quotes on grief. She talked about living with adversity and how her collection of grief cards has influenced her view of the world.

After morning tea, another session of break out groups gave a chance to try something different.

The day ended with Soraya Saraswati treating us to a session of aroma therapy.

And so to lunch and an end to a truly compassionate weekend.


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