lends support to those
who have lost loved ones
MADISON, Ind. (December 2002) They come from all
walks of life with a pure and simple mission to offer hope and
understanding to those who grieve. They are the Compassionate Friends,
a self-help group for families who have lost a child of any age, from
The organization, which first began in Coventry, England, in 1969, now
has chapters around the globe, including nearly 600 chapters in the
United States. There are no membership dues and no religious affiliation.
Members simply gather monthly to share their feelings and help one another
and Nancy Fishers
Linda Kramer, leader of the Madison, Ind., chapter, lost
her 30-year-old daughter, Candy Southworth, just two years ago. Kramer
vividly recalled the Sunday morning, Sept. 3, 2000, when Candy called
her on the phone and complained that she was having trouble breathing.
Just three hours later Candy died in the hospital of a blood clot to
the lung, said Kramer. She left behind a husband and two young children.
It was the hardest thing Ive ever had to go through in my
life, and thats why I wanted to reach out and help others,
Kramer explained. In September, Kramer started the Rivertown Chapter
of Compassionate Friends in Madison with the goal of helping others
in the community who shared her sense of loss. One of the organizations
principles is that bereaved parents can help each other toward a positive
resolution of their grief.
Having others to share with is one of the best ways to cope, according
to Bernard and Nancy Fisher of Madison. The Fishers started attending
Compassionate Friends meetings with the Scottsburg chapter after the
loss of their son, Christopher, 33, on April 20, 1997.
Christopher, a husband and father of two, was killed when a car he was
working under fell and crushed him. The Fishers, like many who have
experienced the loss of a child, still get emotional when they talk
about their son.
You never forget, said Bernard Fisher, but having a support group like
Compassionate Friends helps you to cope. The Fishers said they were
introduced to the organization by a friend, Lloyd Roberts, who began
attending meetings of the group after the loss of a grandson.
Nancy Fisher admitted that she was unsure about attending her first
meeting. I felt like I just cant do this. But after
attending meetings for the past five years, both Nancy and Bernard said
that the group has been helpful.
I found it helped me deal with the loss of Chris much better than
I was dealing with it without the organization, Bernard said.
The couple said that having a group to which they can relate has been
At meetings, members are welcome to talk about their children openly
and share their personal experiences. You dont hesitate
to cry or express your feelings because you know that everyone there
knows exactly what youre feeling, Bernard Fisher said.
The Fishers said that people in the group come from all walks of life.
Some have lost more than one child. Some, like the Fishers, have lost
adult children; others have lost young sons or daughters. But no matter
the loss, said the Fishers, the group is ready to offer understanding
We all have different needs, said Nancy, but we all help
The groups intervention extends beyond meetings. Members often
call or send cards to one another on holidays and birthdays to help
each other get through. Nancy said she had received cards from group
members and couldnt express how much it helped her. She has also
done the same for others in the group.
If youre feeling really bad, then someone in the group will
talk with you, said Fisher.
During the holidays, a difficult time for many, the group gathers to
share a special candlelight memorial. On Dec. 12, the Scottsburg and
Madison chapters will hold a joint service. Kramer has asked members
to bring a framed picture of their child, a candle and votive cup, and
a snack to share. The candles will be lit and music will be played.
Members can also share poems.
As sad as it is, its beautiful, said Nancy, who has
attended the candlelight service in past years. All family and friends
are welcome to attend the service, which will be held at Calvary Baptist
Church, 2632 Michigan Rd. in Madison. New members are also welcome.
Individuals in the Madison area can contact Linda Kramer at
(812) 866-4447 for more information. To find a chapter near you, visit
the Compassionate Friends website at: www.compassionatefriends.org.
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