By Mike Oakley

Families who have experienced the death of a child now have an opportunity to meet with others on a regular basis who have endured similar tragedies.

As many know, the loss of a child can be devastating to surviving parents and siblings as well. That loss can also affect a community and is a lifelong event. That child’s friends and even their school class will continue with their lives and the survivors will live through that, knowing they are uniquely connected but feel they are always on the “outside.” That is a tough thing to overcome and endure but having those who understand this terrible dynamic can only help.

The Compassionate Friends (TCF) of Bibb County, AL, is a brand-new effort and sprung from a national self-help organization for families that have lost a child. Tammy Morton and Donna Brothers, both mothers who have gone through the pain of losing a child, know full well how bonding with others helped them endure the emptiness that can overwhelm your life if you let it.

“When Trent died at the age of 12, Terry and I didn’t know what to do or who to turn to. Friends enveloped us with love and helped us through a very tough time, but this is a life-changing event that has little precedent and if you haven’t gone through it you can’t know how it affects you as a parent, an employee, a boss, a friend or even as a person,” Morton said. “We learned about this organization after we lost Trent and found that it was a place where you could talk about our loss publicly without feeling out-of-place.”

Donna Brothers added, “After your child dies, there are those who don’t want to talk with you about it, probably because they are afraid of making you feel bad and making you cry. The irony is that talking about your child helps you, and no one wants their child forgotten. There are also studies that show crying is an emotional release that can actually help you feel better.” Donna and husband Roger lost an adult son, Jonathan.

Compassionate Friends is a national non-profit organization with more than 600 chapters in the U.S. with locations in every state. Chapters welcome immediate family members to attend, including adult siblings. Meetings are for all families regardless of race, religion, economic background, or the cause and age of the child at death, from pre-birth up.
“The death of a child turns the whole family upside down,” said Morton. “For so long we were known as, “The Five T’s,” and even signed cards that way. Well, when Trent died, five became four and it just wasn’t the same. Through our shared experience we hope to be able to talk about our losses and learn coping techniques that will help us in the journey towards positive resolution of our grief.”

The meetings, which will start Monday, October 7, 2019 at 6:00 pm at Centreville Baptist Church, will be held the first Monday of every month. Meetings typically last one to two hours with the first hour dedicated to parents discussing what happened to their child or anything related to their grief. The second hour is typically reserved for a special topic or speaker. Refreshments are also served.

Chapters need “grief books,” to create a lending library, and will have a selection of handout brochures on many topics related to the death of a child. There are no fees or dues charged to attend, although love gifts are welcomed in memory of the children of the chapter and will be used to publish a chapter newsletter, further community outreach and cover any related expenses.

“The Compassionate Friends welcomes Bibb County,” says TCF Executive Director Debbie Rambis. “When a child dies, at any age, the family suffers intense pain and can feel hopeless and isolated. TCF provides highly personal comfort, hope and support to every family experiencing the death of a son, daughter, brother or sister, or grandchild, and helps others better assist the grieving family. The Bibb County Chapter will greatly help us towards that mission.”

For information about local meetings, overall knowledge or to donate, email:  compassionfriendsbc@gmail.com

For information about the national organization call 1-877-969-0010,

visit www.compasssionatefriends.org or www.facebook.com/TCFUSA on the web.

 

 

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Mike Oakley is a longtime community and state activist dedicated to making his space better than when he found it. A 39-year member of the Alabama Army National Guard and U.S. Army, Oakley achieved the rank of Command Sergeant Major (CSM) and was mobilized or activated four times. He is a member of the Bibb County Board of Education since 1998 and works tirelessly to improve education initiatives in his home county. A member of several state boards of directors, Oakley believes that your attitude determines your latitude and a positive mindset is imperative to defeat negativity encountered in life. A lover of books, poetry, music and history, Oakley is excited to be a part of the move to bring news and enlightenment to interested readers.

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