Speaking at Compassionate Friends was a humbling experience

Published 11:03am Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Thursday before Father’s Day I was asked to speak briefly at the local chapter of a group known as Compassionate Friends.

Compassionate Friends is a national organization with chapters in all 50 states and in many countries around the world. Our local chapter was begun by June Faircloth, who lost her son, Dylan, in July, 2010.

Compassionate Friends’ purpose is to lend support to parents, grandparents, siblings, and other family members who have lost a child.

The loss can be from an illness and expected or, as the case with June and others, it can be from an accident and very sudden. In either case, the loss is like no other loss and unless you have experienced it, there is no way to say “I understand.”

I was thankful to be invited and looked forward to being with whoever might be there. June was honest in saying that we might have three or we might have ten. It didn’t matter to me; I stopped counting heads many years ago.

There are a couple of things that usually happen when attending a meeting or event like Compassionate Friends. The first is the blessing of being with strong and faithful people.

This support group, nationally, is not one that dwells on a particular kind of faith. I think everyone at this meeting was of the Christian faith and was not afraid and free to speak of that faith, but I have no doubt that people of other faiths would have been welcomed.

The loss of which I speak is not a loss that is limited to any particular group of people. When it comes to the kind of compassion represented and needed by these friends, the tie that binds is not of a racial, ethnic, religious, or any other kind of division that we so often highlight. This was a group ready to love no matter, period!

Another thing that usually happens is that I learn something and I learned a lot at the monthly Compassionate Friends of Southwest Georgia meeting.

I learned how little I know about the experience of these parents, grandparents, and siblings. I could never learn everything I need to know about their experiences and, quite frankly, the only way to learn or know is to go through the loss of a child.

I understand that it could happen to anybody, but it doesn’t happen to everyone. I was humbled by just being in the same room with them.

We live in a country that seeks to make all things fast-moving. We want our communications to be nano-quick and our food to be fast. We have no time to wait on anything. And, we have the audacity to think that all situations, even the loss of a child, should be “overred” in an appropriate period of time. How un-compassionate we can be at times.

In life there are many kinds of losses. We lose money, jobs, reputations, our health, and all sorts of stuff, and if we live long enough, we lose our parents. That’s the way life usually goes.

To lose a child, though, runs counter to what is supposed to happen. It’s impossible to understand, but these people I met last Thursday night are doing their best, one day at a time.

As I said earlier, I was humbled and blessed to be with them.

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