Someone to talk to

Someone to talk to

The Surrey chapter of The Compassionate Friends organization offers support to parents who have lost a child.

Years ago, in what now seems like a different lifetime, Tara Lynn Wall tried to socialize with a girlfriend whose child had died.

It was uncomfortable, she recalls, as she didn’t know what to say or do – or how to behave – to make her friend feel better.

Today, Wall understands.

After her nine-day-old daughter Cora Beth passed away last April, her friends’ behaviour changed around her, too.

There were the platitudes and clichés.

“She’s in a better place” was said all too often – the words were pointless, even frustrating.

“Instead of asking me what I needed, they avoided the topic or tried to always be happy around me.”

She felt she had to gently guide them how to conduct themselves without being self-conscious.

It seemed no one understood the grief from the loss of a child – at least when compared to the loss of a parent or friend.

“Before it happened to me, I had no idea,” says the 29-year-old South Surrey resident, holding her playful daughter Ayla, 2.

What she needed was someone to talk to – someone who understood what it was really like.

Months later, with help from people at the White Rock Hospice Society and a local funeral home, Wall became a co-founder of the South Surrey chapter of The Compassionate Friends (TCF), a self-help support organization with a mission to assist bereaved families with the loss of a child – from any cause, and at any age.

Indeed, in the first two meetings, seniors in their 70s came to talk about the loss of their adult children.

TCF is not a therapy group. Rather, visitors to the healing circles are given a chance to speak – uninterrupted while they hold a teddy bear – and share their stories.

If it’s too early for them in the grief process, they can just sit and listen.

There are no counsellors and no religious leanings, although some meetings across the country do take place in churches.

In South Surrey, the meetings take place at a funeral home because the founders found it convenient and available.

“I felt that being that there are so many times I’ve been asked if we have anything like this to offer, I thought the funeral home (location) wasn’t the stumbling block as The Compassionate Friends might think it is,” says group co-founder Colleen Bujak, a funeral consultant at Victory Memorial Park Funeral Centre, where meetings take place.

“We had nobody not wanting to come because it’s a funeral home.”

Bujak says the sense of kinship and belonging helps with the grieving and recovery process, which varies from person to person.

There’s also a release of pressure at home, she explains.

“I had one of the parents tell me that she felt she wasn’t even allowed to bring the child’s name up because it upset everybody. She said ‘I want to talk about it but nobody wants to talk about it.’ ”

In the first two meetings, the tragedies came out in the open: cancer, violence, drugs, car accidents, suicides…

“It’s so different with so many people and so many different stories,” Wall recounts.

One described her son’s death at the end of a 13-month stay in hospital, hooked up to machines.

For Wall, Cora Beth’s death came unexpectedly due to a heart defect.

Her two-year-old was also sick after birth, and doctors told Wall that Ayla wouldn’t survive. While Ayla is doing better, Wall wasn’t told Cora Beth was so sick before she was gone.

The irony is not lost her.

“(The death of a child is) a unique loss. There’s no other loss like it,” says funeral director Jayne Pattison, whose mother Christine co-founded the local TCF chapter to help cope with the loss of her son Tim, Jayne’s 33-year-old brother, who died three years ago.

“People can’t relate to those dealing with the loss of a child and want them to move ahead faster in the grief process. (But) it’s not that simple.”

The Compassionate Friends meetings take place the first Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the tea room at Victory Memorial Park Funeral Centre, 14831 28 Ave. To learn more, call 604-536-6522 or visit http://tcfcanada.net/

 

Just Posted

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
Fraser Health adds 4 first-come-first-serve vaccination clinics to Surrey

First 1,000 people to show up to receive vaccine

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found dead in South Surrey following a wellness check

IIO says officers ‘reportedly spoke to a man at the home before departing’

Surrey RCMP in the 4900-block of 148th Street, a short road just off of King George Boulevard, on May 15, 2021 after a male was allegedly assaulted with a “pipe-like” weapon that morning. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey RCMP investigating after person reportedly injured with ‘pipe-like’ weapon

Police investigating incident in the 4900-block of 148th Street

The leadership team at Johnston Heights Secondary is looking to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society through the Relay for Life, planned as an online and in-person event (following COVID-19 restrictions) for the week of June 1 to 7.
Pushed back a year, Surrey students well on their way to Relay for Life fundraising goal

Johnston Heights Leadership Team aims to raise $6,500 for Canadian Cancer Society

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his ‘Community Connections’ videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Gwenne Farrell

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

B.C. Wildfire Services shows a fire on Chehalis Forest Service Road as of Sunday, May 16, 2021. (BC Fire Services)
Wildfire near Harrison Mills grows to 3 hectares, BC Fire Service on site

Resident near wildfire: ‘I pray that the Creator brings rain as soon as possible’

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 16

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Most Read