2016 Annual Grief & Loss Seminar

Grace College - Walcott Street University of Queensland, St Lucia

This year's theme was 'The Elephant in the Room'.  A topic that anyone who has lost a loved ones knows only too well is that death and dying are 'taboo' subjects for many people in our society.  It makes it difficult to be able to share our grief openly with family and friends who aren't able to communicate about this sensitive topic.  

The Keynote Speaker was Doris Zagdanski who is a bereaved parent who has worked in the Funeral Industry for over 30 years and is currently employed as General Manager for the InvoCare Ltd, Australia's largest funeral directing group. Doris has spoken at our seminars before and along with her caring attitude, she also brings a sense of light heartedness to the participants, many in their early stages of grief.

During her presentation, Doris provided some insight into why the 'elephant in the room' exists and how we can try to respond and manage relationships when people don't know how to communicate with us.

We were privileged to have new guest workshop presenters this year, and others who volunteered their time to come along to bring a special feeling to our opening and closing ceremony. All who were involved have experienced the loss of a child, and each one brought their own insight and caring nature to their sessions and their involvement.

Rob Jones, a clinical counsellor, and founder of the Centre for Men Australia titled his session ‘Learning to Fall Upwards’ which had a particular focus on men and grief.

Karen Lang, spoke on Courage. There were many positive comments on Karen’s session, and she presented in a very gentle manner with information everyone could take away with them.

Susan Voss spoke on ‘Stillness and Peace’ and equally, those who attended Sue’s session came away feeling very connected to her message.

Lorraine Edgely took her usual ‘Caring and Sharing’ session which gave parents and siblings the change to sit and chat and comfort each other as they travel their journey.

Pianist Thea Booth played the piano beautifully as the seminar participants arrived, which set the scene for a lovely and reflective day. She also played again during our closing ceremony in which Susan Ball from Anglicare Queensland did a reading and lit a candle as we reflected and remembered our precious children.

We had a beautiful memory table for our children and a number of new parents attending in their very early stages of grief brought along photos of their precious children.

Some of the many positive comments from people who attended:

Today was exactly what a grief seminar should be. Not doom and gloom. Talking about the relevant topics, making us feel like we are not alone and validating how we are feeling. The speakers were perfect for the day. I’m glad I came along. Also, all the factsheets are really helpful and are good to go over when I need - Bereaved father

It was great, very informative. I love the handouts with tips - Family support person

This is my first time here. The information presented was quite helpful for where I am at present - Bereaved father

The whole day was fantastic, the staff were absolutely wonderful. Work shop was amazing and food was delicious - Bereaved Sibling

Sue, our speaker at the Stillness and Inner Peace workshop was excellent - Family support person

I am so grateful to TCF. I had an amazing day - Participant

I felt relief listening to the speakers that how I am dealing with and coping with our daughter’s passing is normal, though it is my normal. Thank you so much for today - Bereaved mother

Information is perfect. Doris and Karen were sensational. Well done. I’ll be back – Bereaved brother 
I am pleased I attended. To be surrounded by other that have had similar experience. Bless the Compassionate Friends Association - Bereaved mother 

I really got a lot out of the day. Thank you - Bereaved sister

It was a valuable day. Thank you - Bereaved sister

I am so glad I came - Bereaved mother

We would like to thank Grace College for all their help once again, also our many volunteers who helped make the seminar the success it was. 

(Click photos below for larger version)