President's Message

August / September 2017

Our Annual General Meeting will be on Tuesday 19th September when all committee and executive positions become vacant. I will not be seeking re-election to the executive this time around, so this August/September column is my final as President of TCF Queensland. May I take this opportunity to thank members for their support and encouragement over these past two years.  Please see the AGM notice further details.
 
One of the reasons I am scaling back my TCF involvement is for my mother.  Those of you who have accompanied a loved one on ‘the long goodbye’ of dementia know only too well how emotionally difficult this journey is.  It is time for me to devote myself to my mother during this final phase of her life.  When Mum goes I will be reconsidering my work options which may involve a return to interstate work.
 
Our annual seminar on 17th June was once again a very successful event.  The new venue was most favourably received, with ease of parking and location being two winning factors.  The seminar is beginning to trend upward with attendance numbers. This is a great outcome for TCF in promoting our organisation. Self-promotion is a key plank in our strategy to building a stronger profile that will assist us in the very challenging world of fundraising.
 
Speaking of fundraising, TCF is extremely grateful to all those who sponsored various aspects of our seminar and training.  Your donations helped make both events the success they were.  Also, thank you again to the Freemasons for their generous donation of $1632.  This came about through our member Kerry Le Boutillier nominating TCF as the recipient of their fundraising.  Kerry is a member of the Freemasons and he and his wife Donna are the parents of Aaron and long-time TCF members.  Another generous donation has come from TCF member, Dr Len van Ingen Schenau who has given $2000 toward the development of a new website.  Our current website has served us well for several years (many thanks to Gaylene and Julie for their constant ‘behind the scenes’ work on the website), but with the very quickly changing world of technology, our web presence now needs a fresh look.
 
Prior to the seminar this year we held our first comprehensive training session for all our members and staff who have roles that bring them in contact with  bereaved families, eg, support group, coffee mornings, phone support, social media, drop-in centre.  This included our regional members along with those in Brisbane and close by. Feedback from those attending was very positive. Much thanks to Andrew and Sue who came up from TCF Victoria to deliver the training. There are now more organisations entering the ‘bereavement support’ space, so we must ensure we are delivering best practice support - comprehensive training is one way of doing this.
 
Fathers’ Day will be with us on 3rd September. Perhaps this will be the first Fathers’ Day since the death of your child, or even if it is many years, there will still be both happiness and sadness mixed together - happiness for the time you had with your child but sadness because you did not have the time you expected to have.  Remember, if you do want to talk to someone, TCF support is only a phone call away 3254 2585.
 
If you are at least two years bereaved as a parent, grandparent or sibling, and feel you are in a position to contribute at committee level, strongly encourage you to consider nominating.  Please email me and we can have a chat about what is involved in the roles of committee member/president/vice president/secretary/treasurer.  A nomination form has been sent to members with the newsletter.

Warmly, 

Heather
Mother of Richard
Sister of Noel

Heather@CompassionateFriendsQld.org.au

June / July 2017

The Compassionate Friends Australia (TCFA) has been reconstituted, with the new board meeting via phone conference for the first time on Friday 5th May, 2017.  Members include representatives from chapters across Australia, as well as existing TCFA members.  I  am representing TCF Queensland and am also the board secretary.  Aims include: Through consultation with Chapters seek ways to save costs and reduce the duplication of effort through resource sharing; Advocate on behalf of all Chapters at a federal level to government and large organisations; Foster on-going communication between Chapters across Australia; Seek funding at a national level.  The next step for the board is to consult with all chapters across Australia to identify key priorities.  A strong national board will assist us all in continuing to provide the best support possible to bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings.

As part of a recent promotions strategy, TCF Qld fielded a team in a local Crackerjack Barefoot Bowls competition.  The competition ran over several evenings in April for novice bowlers to represent their organisations and businesses.  There are still lots of people who have not heard of TCF, so it was a fun way to help get our name and what we do out more into the local community.

Please come along to our Annual Grief and Loss Seminar. This year we have a wide variety of topics being presented by an excellent line up of speakers.   A valuable addition is the panel discussion, open to anyone to attend, but particularly valuable to professionals wishing to improve their support of bereaved clients.

Warmly,

Heather
Mother of Richard
Sister of Noel

Heather@CompassionateFriendsQld.org.au

April / May 2017

Sunday 26th March dawned a beautful day for our annual Walk to Remember in New Farm Park. The number of members attending has been gradually increasing and this year was no excepton. It is a beautful event in a lovely locaton providing an opportunity to talk with other parents, grandparents and siblings as we walked along the river accompanied by a bagpiper. A highlight of the Walk is the beautful ceremony where families throw flowers onto the water. The Walk has become a ritual for many of us.

Our annual Grief & Loss Seminar is not far away now - Saturday 17th June. This year we will be bringing some of our regional support people to Brisbane for the seminar and also for training. We are very pleased to have two highly regarded trainers coming up from Melbourne (TCF Victoria) to provide the support training.

TCF Qld is looking for sponsorship for the Seminar and the training. Please see the flyer with this newsletter for ways you can sponsor the various actvites. Sponsorships can be made in honour of your child, grandchild or sibling with their name being featured in the seminar brochure.

Mother’s Day is Sunday 14th May. Remember that support is only ever a phone call away if you feel a need to talk - just call the TCF support line or come along to a Coffee Morning or a Support Group gathering.

“We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.” - G.K. Chesterton

Warmly, 

Heather
Mother of Richard
Sister of Noel

Heather@CompassionateFriendsQld.org.au

February / March 2017

Welcome to the first edition of our newsletter for 2017. 

What a wonderful evening we had for the Christmas Candle Lighting.  Families turned out in great numbers for the service, with the church being full.  The International Candle was lit by Julie and Roy McGregor at 7.00pm—our contribution to the wave of light around the world.    

Please put Sunday 26th March in your diaries for our annual Walk to Remember in New Farm Park.  It is a lovely way to spend time with other TCF families, walking around the park and at the same time raising awareness for the Compassionate Friends.  Once again the Walk will be led by a piper, adding a wonderful atmosphere to the event.

One of the strategies for dealing with grief is to walk.  Please read the very interesting article TCF member Lyn Macklin has written on this topic.  Lyn recounts her experience of walking the Camino in Spain with two other TCF members, Vera and Marion.

Always remember that support is only a phone call away if you need a listening ear.  Those of us who are further along on the bereavement journey know only too well what it feels like to move into the first new year without our child...the first year in which they have not lived.   Come along to a coffee morning  or a support group and try and join us for the Walk to Remember.  We are all on the same journey.

Till next time, a thought...

True friends are like mornings, you can’t have them all day,
but you can be sure they will be there when you wake up tomorrow,
next year and forever. Unknown

Warmly, 

Heather
Mother of Richard
Sister of Noel

Heather@CompassionateFriendsQld.org.au

December 2016 / January 2017

The first Christmas...the first New Year...without our child—there is no surer way to feel like a total outsider. It seems that everyone around us is enjoying themselves, totally oblivious to our deep, deep pain. There will be family and friends who desperately want us to be ‘over it’ and ‘gettng on with life’. Usually this is about themselves and how they feel — they are uncomfortable with our grief; they want us ‘back to normal’, back to our old selves.

Do only what is right for you—that is the most important thing. Don’t feel obliged to partcipate if you don’t really want to. However, it is also important to understand that we are not betraying the memory of our child if we do laugh and have moments of enjoyment; afer all, when our child was alive, we shared laughter. The laughter will come more easily as time goes on, but it takes as long as it takes, and not according to the (metable some may want to impose upon us.

Whilst the Drop In Centre will be closed from mid December to mid January, our telephone listeners are always available if you need to talk.

Our annual Candle Lighting Service is on Sunday 11th December. This is a meaningful and heartelt way to honour our children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters. We light our internatonal candle at 7.00pm contributing to the wave of light around the world as each chapter lights their candle at 7.00pm local time. Please note the starting time for the service is 6.30pm.

Sincere thanks to all those volunteers who helped in any way during the year. TCF could not function without you. Special thoughts go out to Lorraine as she recovers from health issues. Also a special thanks to all our country chapter volunteers. Your commitment to providing a presence in the regional areas is invaluable. I am sure all will agree that Kristie deserves a very special thankyou for the drive and enthusiasm she has brought to the role of Coordinator. To our committee members, I am most thankful for and especially appreciate your dedication and support in this special task of guiding TCF QLD.

Wishing all our members peace and love at Christmas.

Warmly, 

Heather
Mother of Richard
Sister of Noel

Heather@CompassionateFriendsQld.org.au

October/November 2016

Hello All

Welcome to our latest newsletter, the second last for this year. This newsletter is also the last one for the previous committee and the first for the new commiee.

Following our AGM on 20th September, we have a committee of eight members with all except the treasurer having been on the committee previously. Our new treasurer is Joanne Smeaton and we welcome her to the committee. Joanne held the position of Assistant Treasurer (non-committee) previously. Thankyou very much to our retiring members, James and Roger. James has now moved into the role of TCF auditor. Please read all the details on page four in regard to the outcome of the AGM.

Please put 11th December in your diaries to attend the Candle lighting Service. On the following page you can read about how to submit a photo, verse, song, etc in memory of your child, by way of the slideshow, service booklet or memory table. If you haven’t been to this service before, then I would urge you to come along. It is a very meaningful ceremony and a beautiful way to especially honour the memory of our children as we move into the Christmas Season.

TCF is still looking to increase its team of parent supporters. If it is at least two years since you lost your child, grandchild or sibling and you feel you are at a point where you could provide support to other parents, then please give the office a call. TCF assists bereaved families in many ways, eg, support group gatherings, Drop In Centre, telephone support line, social media., etc. Full training will be provided. To express your interest, please call Kris(e on 3254 2657 or info@compassionatefriends.org.au

Don’t forget to have a look at Gifts4Good when you start your Christmas shopping: http://www.gifts4good.org.au/support/the-compassionate-friends-qld

There are dozens of well known retailers who will make a donation to TCF for each on line order you place with them. This is a great way to help raise funds for our organisation without having to spend any extra money.

Till next time, a thought -

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

Charles R Swindoll

Warmly, 

Heather
Mother of Richard
Sister of Noel

Heather@CompassionateFriendsQld.org.au

August/September 2016

Hello All

It is a beautiful afternoon as I sit on the back verandah writing for this edition of the newsletter. We have barely had any winter weather to speak of here in Brisbane so far. I am listening to the news in the background and there is yet another barbaric mass killing overseas. Families and communities torn apart, never to be the same again. Our thoughts and prayers are with these families.

Following the recent TCF Committee meeting, Kristie McGrath has been formally appointed to the position of Co-ordinator. Kristie has been working with TCF casually for the last three months while the committee reviewed the position. During this time, Kristie has ably demonstrated her suitability for the role. We congratulate Kristie and wish her a long and productive time with TCF.

Once again we had a very successful Golf Day on 22nd July. Funds raised help to continue providing support services and events. A very big thankyou to sponsors, players, donors, helpers, and all involved in making the day such a success.

Planning is commencing for the June 2017 Grief & Loss Seminar. We would love to hear what topics you would like covered, either as a keynote address or in workshops - or perhaps as guest speaker events during the year. Please email me Heather@CompassionateFriendsQld.org.au or Kristie on info@CompassionateFriendsQld.org.au with your suggestions.

The Annual General Meeting of TCF QLD is to be held on Tuesday 20th September 2016 in the downstairs meeting room of the Drop In Centre at 505 Bowen Terrace, New Farm. Not only is it the AGM, it is also the time to elect a new committee for the coming twelve months, as all current positions become vacant. Please come along and support your organisation. Please also consider nominating for the committee. Your commitment would be to come to one meeting every two months and in addition, assist with your time and talent when and where you can.

Fathers’ Day will be with us on 3rd September. Perhaps this will be the first Fathers’ Day since the death of your child, or even if it is many years, there will still be both happiness and sadness mixed together - happiness for the time you had with your child but sadness, because you did not have the time you expected to have. Remember, if you do want to talk to someone, TCF support is only a phone call away 07 3254 2585.

Till next time, a thought -
'Be with people who know your VALUE, not your PRICE.' - Hassan Choughari

Warmly, 

Heather
Mother of Richard
Sister of Noel

Heather@CompassionateFriendsQld.org.au

June/July 2106

Hello All,

Once again our annual April Walk to Remember was most successful.  Many members turned up for a beautiful day in New Farm Park.  The weather was glorious and all the families enjoyed each other’s company.  Vicki Howard, our local Brisbane City Council councillor  attended.  Vicki has supported us for many years now.  Bruce, the Piper  accompanied us on our rounds of the Park, and as ever, the beautiful stains of the bagpipe helped attract attention to our cause.

The 18th June will see us holding our annual Grief and Loss Seminar.  The Elephant in the Room is the keynote address topic by Doris Zagdanski.  Those who have attended before, know how well Doris speaks, and this promises to be yet another  excellent topic.  Excitingly, this year we have two new workshop presenters, so be sure to put 18th June in your diaries.  Read more about it on the flyer with this newsletter or  check out the detail further on in the newsletter.

One of the significant fundraisers that TCF QLD holds is the annual Golf Day.  It is on 22nd July, so if you are a golfer, please round up your  friends for a great day out.  If you own a business or know of someone who does and would like to be a sponsor, or you and some friends would like to play in a team, please contact Kristie at the Drop in Centre.

Ninetieth birthdays are certainly a milestone, and my mother celebrated hers in April.  Mum is in nursing care these days and sadly dementia has robbed her of the sharp mind she once had.  The shock of the sudden and unexpected death of her youngest son, Noel, 51,  nearly four years ago, was what  brought on the vascular dementia she now has.  There was only fleeting recognition on Mum’s part as to what the day was about, but none the less  we took Mum out for lunch and had a lovely time.  


If you haven’t heard already, Joy and Karen have resigned from TCF.  Further on in the newsletter, please read Vera’s lovely tribute to them both. Kristie McGrath is our relieving coordinator —please read Kristie’s introduction further on as well.

Till next time, a thought  -
'Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.’  - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Warmly,

Heather
Mother of Richard
Sister of Noel

Heather@compassionatefriendsqld.org.au

April/May 2016

Our annual Walk to Remember is approaching on Sunday 17th April in New Farm Park. It is a beautiful event in a lovely location, most befitting the memory of our children, our grandchildren and our brothers and sisters. It is an opportunity to talk with other parents as we walk around the park accompanied by a bagpiper. The walk concludes with a beautiful flower ceremony by the water. Please encourage all family members and friends and any other parents you know who have lost a child but may not know about TCF, to come along. Further details are in the newsletter.

Let me take this opportunity to welcome two newly appointed committee members, James Neumann and Jane Foreman. James comes on board as the Treasurer and Jane will be giving us the benefit of her marketing skills. Another important person on the team is Joanne Smeaton, Assistant Treasurer, who will be doing all things bookkeeping!

Our Fundraising sub-committee is looking for an additional team member/s - someone who is not afraid to explore new ideas, as well as continuing with our tried and tested fundraisers helping TCF in its quest to become independently funded. The reality is that without fundraising, TCF QLD would eventually cease to exist. If you know someone who has the skills and would like to volunteer, but is not a member of TCF, that is OK, as you do not need to be a member of TCF to be on the sub-committee.

Do you think you have what it takes? If so, we would love to hear from you. Please email me: heather@compassionatefriends.org.au

TCF wishes to increase its team of parent supporters. If it is at least two years since you lost your child, grandchild or sibling and you feel you are at a point where you could provide support to other parents, then please give us a call. TCF assists bereaved families in many ways, eg, support group gatherings, Drop In Centre, telephone support line, social media., etc. Full training will be provided. To express your interest, please call the office on 3254 2657 or info@compassionatefriends.org.au. Office opening days are Monday, Tuesday and Friday.

It will be Mother’s Day on 8th May. For some reading this newsletter, it will be your first Mother’s Day without the presence of your beloved child. Above all, remember, you never stop being your child’s mum. Use TCF to make the connections you need to help you through this time of loss and longing. As someone said ‘I will always love you and I will always be your mother.’

Till next time, a thought (with a little license!) -

‘We can do the impossible because we have been through the unimaginable.’ Christina Rasmussen
Warmly,

Heather
Mother of Richard
Sister of Noel

Heather@compassionatefriendsqld.org.au

February/March 2016

As the greeting 'Happy New Year' has been tripping off everyone's tongues so easily, the New Year is anything but happy for those of us going into our first year without our beloved child, grandchild or sibling, the first year in which they have not lived. We are looking back in the fear that moving into the New Year means leaving the memory of our child behind. How do we manage?

The reality is that we will never leave our child behind, no matter what the date. We continue a day at a time until the grief feels more manageable, until we can begin to feel some happiness with each new day, until we can laugh without feeling guilty. Talking to someone at TCF can help and is only ever a phone call away.

This year will see the TCF committee begin implementing aspects of the strategic plan drawn up under the previous committee. The recent funding issue put this front and centre, with the need to continuously build capacity very important for the future of TCF Queensland. We will keep membership updated on the plan implementation.

The annual Candlelight Service held in December was well attended and is an extremely important event in the TCF calendar. These occasions are invaluable in supporting us all on our grief journey, and take considerable organising. Many, many thanks to all those who assisted both on the night and behind the scenes in the weeks prior and after.

Till next time, a thought - "To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness." Erich Fromm

Warmly,
Heather
Mother of Richard
Sister of Noel

Heather@compassionatefriendsqld.org.au

December 2015 / January 2016

As I sit on my verandah to write this column on a rainy Saturday afternoon I realise just how close Christmas is, with New Year hot on its heels. This time of year brings mixed feelings for us all. It is a time when we feel the loss of our child, our grandchild or our brother or sister even more acutely. It is a time for family coming together, but one is missing. Remember that TCF support is only a phone call away, call into the Drop In Centre any time or attend the Coffee Morning or Support Meeting. Above all, be gentle with yourself.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Heather Smith and I am the recently elected President of TCF Qld having been a member for several years. I lost my only child, my son Richard in 2008 when he was 22. In 2012 my youngest brother Noel, 51, passed away.

Following our recent AGM, the committee has a mix of new and continuing members. Sincere thanks and appreciation is extended to retiring members for your time and talent. Vera, our immediate past president, has retained a committee position, but is taking a temporary break for health reasons. We wish her all the very best in her treatment and recovery. Lorraine did not seek re-election this year after many years as a dedicated committee member and office bearer, thankyou Lorraine.

2015 has seen the successful culmination of the hard work of the previous committee in securing funding for the next three years, funding that had originally been due for termination under the previous QLD government. However, this can only be regarded as breathing space and TCF Qld must investigate and secure other sources of finance so we can mitigate any funding losses in the future. We cannot afford to place so many eggs in one basket again!

By now all of us will have heard and seen the details of the horrific shootings and bombings in Paris – many families changed forever. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by this barbaric atrocity.

Our Candle Light Remembrance Service is on Sunday 13th December, commencing 6.45pm. If you have never been, please consider coming along this year. It is a beautiful and moving way to honour the memory of our children. Many thanks to those who have contributed photos, poems, songs, etc for inclusion in the Service. If you have not contributed before, please think about it for next year.

As the new president, I seek your ideas and constructive feedback about any aspect of TCF. Feel free to drop me a line any time at heather@compassionatefriendsqld.org.au.

Till next time – remember, the only people who think there’s a time limit for grief, have never lost a piece of their heart. Take all the time you need. (RaeAnne Fredrickson)

Warmly,
Heather
Mother of Richard
Sister of Noel

October/November 2015

My Dear Fellow Compassionate Friends,

It just seems like yesterday that I wrote my last report, how time flies. Father’s Day has passed for another year and I hope and pray that you coped with it, as best you could, without your precious child. I know that it is another hard day to get through for all the family.

By the time you read this report we will have a new committee for the next year. I congratulate those who have put their hand up to help steer our organisation forward.

We have had some wonderful news this week. Queensland Health has reinstated our funding for the next three and a half years. This has revived our energy, knowing that we are able to provide the help that is needed to our bereaved community. It is such a relief to us all. I would like to personally thank Peter Daley for all the work he put into bringing this result to fruiton. He never gave up and hounded his local state member at every opportunity, making him aware of the services we provide to our bereaved clients. Thank you Peter for a job very well done. I would also like to personally thank Roger Grehan for the hours he spent in compiling our transition plan to submit to the Health Department. I believe that it was one of the best transiton plans they received.

Included in the latest newsletter, either posted or emailed to members, is a leaflet listing all the ways volunteers can help our organization. I know we have many talented members out there who could assist us in many ways. Please take the time to look at it and if you can help in any way, let us know. You may also have friends who could help us, be it big or small. We would be grateful for any help or suggestions anyone can provide.

Our Christmas Raffle books have also been posted out. Our Christmas raffle prizes are very generous and well worth winning. If you require more books of tickets please let the office know and we will be only too glad to send them to you.

I have heard from the Rev Cannon Simon Stephens and he is currently in Plymouth awaiting an operation. He assures me all will be well.

In closing I would like to include a quote. “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face, You must do the things which you think you cannot do”.

The Christmas Service is just around the corner so don’t forget to send in the photo of your loved one to be included in our power point presentaion.

Much love and many blessings to you all,
Vera, mother of Andrew
(Outgoing President)

August/September 2015

How time flies. It is so important to do what we want to do now as we do not know what our destiny is. I have just lost a dear brother to an aggressive cancer. He lived less than 6 weeks from diagnosis to finally succumbing to it. He had so many plans that he wasn’t able to fulfil and we were not able to spend quality time with him. All we can do is be thankful that he did not suffer for too long. It is so sad losing a sibling as you feel like you have lost another part of you.

The Reverend Canon Simon Stephens spent a whirlwind two days with us in Queensland and what a lasting impression he made on all who were privileged to meet him. I was so fortunate being able to spend much time with him and listen to the two speeches he made. What a wonderful human being he is. All who heard him speak said that they could have listened to him forever, he was so very interesting. His early life was tragic but he was able to rise above this tragedy and foresee the need for an organisation for bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings to support one another in a way that no one else can. It must be so rewarding for him to see how the fruit of his labour has spread throughout the world giving much comfort to so many.

As the former government (LNP) in their wisdom cut funding to many community organisations including TCF, our government funding to TCF will cease on the 31st December 2015. The health minister of our new government Cameron Dick has indicated on a radio interview that groups such as ours are important to the community but at this stage there has been no mention that funding will be restored. We will be able to survive for a while without this funding but not forever. As well as still putting our case to the government we will also be approaching philanthropists and foundations in the hope that someone will be able to help. We cannot let the good work that we do in supporting one another be terminated by lack of funding. We can only hope and pray that good reasoning will prevail.

Before we know it Father’s Day will be upon us and those poor Dads have to endure another day without their much loved child. If it is your first day without your child my heart goes out to you. May you all have as good a day as possible and may wonderful memories fill your day. We cannot change what is given to us but our memories are so very important.

I would like you to remember that this is your newsletter and encourage you to send in any poems, stories or articles for publication. I am sure that Karen would be delighted to receive anything from you. So PLEASE think about it and put pen to paper.

In closing I would like to use a quote “It is good to have an end to journey towards but it is the journey that matters in the end”.

Much love and many blessings to you all and may you all have the strength to cope with the burdens that life presents to us.

Vera, mother of Andrew.

June/July 2015

My Dear Fellow Compassionate Friends,

I am finally back in Australia again and trying to get my body used to the different time. The walk to Santiago de Compostela was arduous but very rewarding. Marion and I lit candles at the various churches along the way for all our TCF children. There are so many pilgrims, from so many countries all over the world, doing the walk for various reasons and it was so lovely to talk to some of them.

Our Walk to Remember on the 12th of April went really well and all who were there gained a lot of peace and support. It is such a shame that we have so few members to attend such happenings. Thanks go Vicki Howard, Councillor for Brisbane central, for attending, as she has done every year and to our piper who did a wonderful job in drawing attention to our walk. It was an emotional day for some and much networking went on after the walk.

Mothers’ Day has come and gone and if it was your first one without your beloved child my heart goes out to you. It is a tough day to get through for any bereaved mother and all we can do is remember the past Mothers’ days and hang on to the wonderful memories.

Our annual Grief and Loss Seminar is coming up in June, I hope that as many members as possible avail themselves of the opportunity to attend and network with others as well as listening to our guest speaker and attending workshops. I hope to see you there.

By the time you get this newsletter the Rev Canon Simon Stephens’ visit will have gone. I am so looking forward to meeting with this wonderful man who is the reason why The Compassionate Friends is here today to provide help for the bereaved.

The funding for The Compassionate Friends to continue is still up in the air and we can only hope that the government will be able to provide funds for the association to continue. Please lobby your local member if possible and make them aware of our situation.

In closing I would like to add a quote “ Try and reflect on your many blessings, of which every man has; not on the past misfortunes of which every man has encountered”.

Much love and many blessings to you all and may you have the strength to cope with whatever is given to you.

Vera, mother of Andrew.

April/May 2015

My Dear Fellow Compassionate Friends,

I sincerely hope that you are all well and coping with the challenges that life presents us with. We will be facing another challenge in Mother’s Day in early May. If it’s your first Mother’s Day without your dear child my heart goes out to you. All you can do is get through it as best you can. It can be a challenging and emotional day, another one of those life days to get through. I wish you peace and love.

We have quite a few events coming up in April and May. On Sunday, the 12 April we will be having the Walk to Remember in New Farm Park, starting at 10 am. We have been lucky in being able to have the bagpipes once again to pipe us around the park and down to the river where we will have a short ceremony. We will then share a BBQ lunch and have time to mingle with other members. Please try and make it as it is a wonderful way in honouring the memory of our loved ones.

We are also very privileged in having the Cannon Simon Stephens, the founder of TCF visiting Queensland on the 27th and 28th May. He is in Australia and will visit all centres throughout our country. I have not been able to hear him talk as it is twenty years since he visited but I’m informed by the ones who have been able to hear him that he is a very interesting person with a very interesting past. I am so looking forward to meeting him. We have planned a dinner to give everyone an opportunity to meet him and hear him talk so please refer to the details in our newsletter. This is a once in a life time opportunity and it also coincides with the 30th anniversary of TCF Queensland. I am hoping that we will have many members attending.

Our annual golf day will be coming up in July and if you know of anyone who would like to play or sponsor a hole it would be greatly appreciated if you contact the centre. We all need to try and encourage businesses to help us out. So please give it some thought.

On another note on the 15th April Marion and myself will be leaving for Spain to walk part of the CAMINO, St James way. We will be walking from Leon to San Diego Di Compostella. We will be taking our children and all the children of our members with us in our hearts.  So please say a prayer for us. I will let you know about our walk on our return.

In closing I would like to share a quote “Life is a gift and it offers us the privilege, opportunity and responsibility to give something back by becoming more”.

PS I would like to thank Feast on Fruit Morningside for donating the onions for our last two BBQ’s. Thank you so much Joe and Serge. What would we do without these wonderful people.

Much love and many blessings to you all,
Vera, mother of Andrew.

February/March 2015

My Dear Fellow Compassionate Friends,

Welcome to a new year. I can only hope that you travelled through the festive period as best you could. For some it has become a little easier with the passage of time but for others it is still a difficult time to get through seeing that empty chair. All you can do is cope as best you can and try to relive the happy memories. We need to take small steps at a time, we cannot change what has been given to us.

This year sees the end of our funding from Queensland Health. By the time you get this newsletter the state election will be over and no doubt there will be many changes. We can only hope that whoever is in government will consider the plight of not for profit organizations and act accordingly. We will have to wait and see.

The Annual Christmas Candlelight Service was very well attended and as usual it is a very moving but lovely tribute to our precious children. A sincere thank you must go to Julie for the incredible power point presentation. It seems to get better every year and I am sure that Julie spends many hours on making this part of the ceremony very special. Once again thank-you Julie. Congratulations to the people who won the Christmas raffles, I’m sure they had a great time spending the various vouchers.

This year the annual Walk to Remember will be held on the 12th April, so please mark this date on your calendar. This is also another way to honour the memory of our loved ones. It will be held in New Farm Park once again and followed by a BBQ and some networking among parents. I am looking forward to seeing you there. We hope to have the bag piper there once again, he certainly added to the atmosphere.

We have had so many tragedies of late, involving children and young adult. We need to spare a thought for the families and send them our love, even if it’s through our thoughts. We can imagine what they are going through. For many bereaved parents, the word acceptance is too difficult. We know we can adjust, and we can learn to cope.

In closing i would like to share a quote, “You cannot fill your own bucket,” but by showing compassion and concern for others, you can fill their buckets and have yours filled in return.

Much love and many blessings to you all,
Vera, mother of Andrew.

December 2014 - January 2015

My Dear Fellow Compassionate Friends,

I cannot believe that Christmas is almost upon us and the new year is imminent, how time flies is just seems like yesterday that we faced the start of 2014. It has been a busy year in at the centre and the good news is that we now have secured funding from Queensland Health up to the end of 2015, beyond that we do not know. We can only hope that we can access money from some other source so as to continue the support for our bereaved.

The Festive Season is a stressful time for many bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings as we remember those who are no longer with us to share this time. If it is your first Christmas without your much loved child my heart goes out to you. All you can do is get through the day as best you can and do what is right for you to cope. There is no right or wrong way to cope you can only go with the way you feel at the time. May you have as good a Christmas as you possibly can and honour the memory of the ones who are no longer here to share it with us.

Our Christmas Candlelight service was held on Sunday 14th December. It was a very special evening where we remembered and paid tribute to our precious children in a very special way.

The centre will be closed for the Christmas break but if you need support the Dedicated Support Line is there for you to access twenty-four hours a day. You need not feel alone and it is always good to speak to someone. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed in some way to the running of the centre be it in the way of volunteering, sending in stamps, selling tickets, making items for sale, or donating money, every little bit helps and it is very much appreciated. By the time you read this I will have attended the Christmas Luncheon of the Murwillimbah Chapter of The Compassionate Friends and we would have had a jam stall at the New Farm Shopping Centre.

In closing I would like to share with you the wise words of the Dalai Lama.” Every day think as you wake up. Today I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all of my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all human beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry, or think badly of others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can”.

Much love and many blessings to you all,
Vera, mother of Andrew.

October/November 2014

My Dear Fellow Compassionate Friends,

I did not think that I would be writing this report again, but how wrong I was. We are in dire straits in attracting new members in taking over the executive positions. The old brigade cannot keep renominating, we really do need some new blood. Please think about coming onto the committee next year. It is not an onerous task and it is rewarding in the sense that you are helping steer The Compassionate Friends in making decisions. Many thanks to Roger Grehan for writing our transition plan submission which was forwarded to Queensland Health last week. This hopefully will secure funding for our organization until December 2015. Beyond that it is an uncertain time for all not for profit organizations. If you have any ideas on how to raise funds for our organization please let us know. We are in constant need for fundraising.

We have just passed another Father’s Day and I am sure that it would have been another tough day for most families to get through. I don’t think that it gets any easier and some years, for some reason, are worse than others. All we can do is muddle through the day as best we can, we have no option.

The Christmas Candlelight service is looming and will be upon us before we realise. If you want your child’s photo in the power point presentation make sure that you let the office know and don’t forget to send in a photo. We are also in need of poems and songs for the night so give this a thought. It is the one night where we come together to honour the memory of our precious children and catch up with other members afterwards. Please support us by buying the raffle tickets that are included in this newsletter. Our Christmas raffle prizes are well worth winning.

Don’t forget that we are available for support at all times be it a telephone call, support meeting or calling into the centre. If you know of anyone who needs support don’t hesitate to let us know so we can send them one of our packages. That is what we are here for.

In closing I would like to include a saying by Chico Xavier a famous medium and spiritual leader, ‘Holding a grudge is like holding a hot ember in your hand and expecting the other person to burn. Forgiveness is not an altruistic act. It is an act of self preservation. It is our best medicine. Forgiveness reverses the perception that we are at the effect of the world around us. It returns us to the realisation that we create the world; we generate the experiences we are having'.

Much love and many blessings to you all,
Vera, mother of Andrew.


August/September 2014

It only seems like yesterday that I wrote my last report, how time flies. I hope and pray that you are travelling through your grief as best you can. Little steps at a time and sometimes one forward and two back but eventually we come to a place where we have to accept what has happened, we have no choice, and learn to live with what has been handed to us. This does not mean that we will ever forget our precious children but continue to live to honour their memory.  

We had our annual golf day on Friday 11th July at the Nudgee Golf Course and although we did not have as many players as we would have liked to, the ones who played had a great day.  I would like to personally thank Mick and Brendan from Rhino Finance and Kristina from Samies Girl Seafood for their unlimited generosity. Without these wonderful people we would not have a golf day, may they have many blessings in their life. I would also like to thank the minor sponsors and people who donated goods and money towards the golf day. Thank you all so very much, your generosity is much appreciated by all.

We are still in the throes in trying to secure funding until December 2015 and have had several meetings with the people from Board Connect in guiding us with our submission to Queensland Health. Beyond that date we do not know where we stand. We have had several members approach their government representative to lobby for our cause and make them aware of what we do and for this we would like to thank them. We need as much lobbying as possible so if you can arrange a meeting with your local representative and let them know how TCF has helped you it may help our cause.  Laurence Springborg stated, “if you are a legitimate group, you've got nothing to fear” despite this statement TCF will lose funding from 31st December 2015 from the Community Self Help grant program. Full statement can be viewed by copying and pasting the following into your web browser: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/springborg-to- rein-in-health-grants-20120430-1xuuf.html  

September the 7th  brings Fathers’ Day and another reminder of our children who are no longer with us. If it’s your first Fathers’ Day without your precious child my heart goes out to you. Even if you are further down the track the day is not an easy one. May you all have as best a day as is possible under the circumstances.  

One final note –I have decided to step down as President at the next Annual General Meeting. I think that it is time to hand over to someone new. I have been president for four years so I think we need some new person to carry TCF forward. So please give this some consideration. We also need new committee members with new ideas, and I urge you to get involved. It is very rewarding and the meetings are held bi-monthly. I have enjoyed my role and my interaction with you all, I won’t be going away and will still be involved with TCF. 


In closing I would like to include a poem.  Though all must suffer grief and loss—Time is kind and brings relief..... The passing of the healing years --- deadens pain and dries the tears. At first.....hearts break and sorrow numbs. No word consoles. No comfort comes.... But slowly to the quiet mind---Life flows back for Time is kind.  Vera, mother of Andrew.


June/July 2014

My Dear Fellow Compassionate Friends,

It is hard to believe that Mother's Day has come and gone and for many of us it is a bitter sweet day. It does not matter how many children you have you still miss the one who is not there. All we can do is grin and bear it. I hope you had as happy a Mother’s Day as is possible. If it was your first one without your beloved child I can imagine the pain of it all, having been there myself.

Our walk in New Zealand was a challenge, at times, but well worth it. The Banks Peninsula is such a beautiful landscape and Akaroa Village is a magical place. We all chose a small rock and wrote the name of our loved ones who are no longer with us on it. We then placed the stones on a boulder overlooking Akaroa and used super glue to keep them there. We hope that they will stay there as a reminder of our love for them.

Some members of the committee have met with the person allocated to us from Queensland Health to help guide us through the transition period to self funding beyond 2015. We hope and pray that all will work out and we will still be able to support parents, grandparents and siblings through their grief period. We will update you on the progress as we move on. It would help if you could lobby your local member on our behalf. Just being aware of us is a great help.

Don’t forget our annual Grief and Loss Seminar which will be held at Grace College on Saturday the 14th June. It is a wonderful way of connecting with other bereaved parents and sharing our losses. We have a wonderful guest speaker and great workshops. Please try and make it. Booking is essential as we are charged per person by Grace College for the catering. If you book and can't attend please advise the office otherwise we still have to pay for your food. I always find the day exhausting emotionally but very rewarding.

We will be having our Charity Golf Day on Friday 11 July. It is one of our important fund raisers so if you know of a company that could sponsor a hole or if you know of any individuals who play golf, please approach them on our behalf as the more we have to play the better. It is a fun day for all those involved and we have some great prizes to offer. It is a great social day for all involved. Just phone the office if you want more information or the relevant paperwork.

Joy, our co-ordinator has gone on leave as of Friday 23 May for six weeks and she has been replaced by Linda Meagher for this period. Linda has filled in for Joy at other times and is very familiar with the operation of TCF. We are thankful that we have her to fill in. Joy will be travelling overseas with her husband John and we wish them a safe and fulfilling journey.

In closing I would like to share a small poem.

Though all must suffer loss and grief
Time is kind and brings relief...
The passing of the healing years
deadens pain and dries the tears.
At first.... hearts break and sorrow numbs.
No word consoles....
But slowly to the quiet mind
Life flows back for Time is kind.

Much love to you all and God bless,
Vera, mother of Andrew.


April/May 2014

My Dear Fellow Compassionate Friends,

How time flies. It only seems like yesterday that I wrote a President's Report.

Easter is almost upon us and another reminder that we do not have our precious children to spend the day with us. It seems like there is a constant reminder of all the special days that we have to spend without a special loved one. That is our lot and there is nothing we can do about it but hold them close to our hearts.

As per the newsletter we will be having our Walk to Remember on Sunday 13th April in New Farm Park. It is another way of acknowledging our children and what they mean to us. Please try and attend as it is another day that Parents, Grandparents and Siblings can get together to honour their loved ones. It is also a time where we can all catch up and share a barbecue lunch in a lovely park. I am looking forward to seeing you there.

There is still much uncertainty about our future funding from Queensland Health. While we will receive funding in the short term we are not guaranteed any funding beyond 2015. Without the funding we receive it would be impossible for us to operate. It is a worrying time as The Compassionate Friends has been operating in Queensland for 29 years and has helped so many bereaved parents (including me) in their grief journey. As you all know, TCF is a worldwide organization and it would be a shame to lose it in Queensland. So if you are in touch with your local state member, please do some lobbying on our behalf.

By the time you read this I will be back from my trip to New Zealand in March to do a four day walk on the Banks Peninsula. I went with with my daughter and Marion (who is our past coordinator) and we walked in honour of our children and brother. I will give you an update in the next newsletter.

The support meetings are being well attended and we are humbled in being able to assist those who do attend in their grief journey. Remember there is always someone there to talk to if you are having a bad day. We are all bereaved and understand what you are going through.

In closing I would like to include a quote ” What one heart cannot bear alone, a hundred loving hearts can bear together”.

Much love to you all and God bless,
Vera, mother of Andrew.


February/March 2014

My Dear Fellow Compassionate Friends,

The Festive Season is well and truly over and most people are back at work. I do hope that you were able to cope with all the Christmas hype around you and had a peaceful Christmas with your loved ones. It is a difficult time of the year for bereaved parents so we have to cope as best we can.

The Candle light service was extremely well attended with about 100 of our members there. It is always an emotional service and the power point presentation of photos of our precious children made us realise what we have really lost. Such a tragic waste of beautiful much loved children. That’s life and there is nothing we can do to change it but hold on to the precious memories that we have and hold them dear in our hearts.

Over the break some committee members and Joy met with representatives of Queensland Health to discuss the funding we receive from them. From what I can interpret all not for profit organizations will have to show why they are eligible for funding and what services they provide for the money allocated to them. It will be a testing time ahead for us and if you are in touch with your state member let them know how The Compassionate Friends has helped you to cope with your loss. It is so important that they know the amount of support we provide for our members which inadvertently takes some strain off the health system.

I have been lucky to have been allocated a couple of sausage sizzles over the holidays and would like to thank my wonderful family and friends who have been able to help me. I would not have been able to do it without their help. We really need members to put up their hands to help out as this makes the workload lighter for all those involved. We are having another one on Sunday 16th March so if you are able to help out please contact the office. your help will be much appreciated.

We are planning to hold our 2nd Walk to Remember in New Farm Park, so please watch the newsletter for the up coming date. We also need volunteers who will be able to assist in planning so please make yourself available.
The people who won the Christmas Hampers were delighted in receiving the gift card and were able to spend the money on what they needed so it made it so much easier all round.

Remember if you need someone to talk to we are only a telephone call away and we understand your grief having walked that path before you. Someone at The Drop in Centre is always available on Monday, Tuesday and Friday.

In closing I would like to include a quote “Love as much as you can, give all you have, and always forgive”.

Much love to you all and God bless,
Vera, mother of Andrew.