Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Chai Lifeline Bereavement Retreat Part 1

Chai Lifeline’s annual Bereavement Retreat was held this past Shabbos in Camp Simcha. I will attempt to give an insiders view of the experience. The invitation to the retreat is limited to those from the exclusive club of Bereaved Parents. There are a total of 4 groups. Firstly, the group sessions are divided by gender. The groups are divided again. One group consists of bereaved parents of children who died in sudden accidents and the other group consists of parents who children died after prolonged illness ranging from months to several years.
Every person has a story to tell. Each one more tragic than the next. Car accidents, cancer, rare disease. It is really all the same. Each parent left with an irreplaceable void.
There were many complaints of insensitive relatives and friends. One bereaved parent described the uncanny feeling of watching people cross the street to avoid contact with them. As if the bereaved parent needs to apologize for representing the unthinkable.
Other echoed the same experience. Other spoke of insensitive comments. One person described being at a PTA meeting at his child’s school. Someone asked him coolly,” Your kid, is he still alive?” Many parents felt that family members could not relate to them or their pain. “Get over it already, it’s been 2 years.”
But in this circle of strangers, was a deep understanding that the pain will never go away. You get thru your pain but you never get rid of it. Barriers start to break and people start to recognize that perhaps the only people in the world that will ever understand them are the people in that room.


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