The Compassionate Friends: A New Chapter in Ithaca, New York

Robin Botie of ithaca, New York, uses Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator to show a stand of trees representing the new Ithaca chapter of The Compassionate Friends, a worldwide child loss grief support group helping bereaved families grow and heal.“Pretend you’re trees. Open your arms wide like branches reaching out,” I said to the tiny group of people posing before my camera. They stood there, smiling at me, with outstretched arms. We were gathered for the first meeting of The Compassionate Friends of Ithaca, New York, a child loss support group. “Look up at the sky,” I directed, thinking they looked like children waving in the wind.

I was designing artwork for our brochure, for a Facebook page, and our new website. Since my daughter Marika died, it has not been easy to ask for assistance. It had taken me four years to even want to be part of a grief support group. So last week, when I needed people to pose, I had hesitated sending out the email, “I need help.” But now, here were these new friends of mine, swaying with arms held high like they could catch the sun. Or catch a child falling from heaven. They were eager to be helping me. I was so touched.

The Compassionate Friends is a worldwide support group for people who have lost a child or grandchild or sibling. All the people running Compassionate Friends groups are people who have lost children of all ages, from many different causes. Bereaved parents are a diverse group from all walks of life and all races. They understand what parents go through, and hold regular monthly meetings where they reach out to each other, sharing their pain and the love they have for their children. Together they grieve and heal and grow.

In Ithaca, our new TCF chapter meets the first Thursday of each month from 5:30 to 7:30 at Hospicare on 172 E King Road. If you are a bereaved parent nearby, or you know of someone who is and would benefit from opportunities to connect and learn together, I invite you to contact us at tcf.ithaca@gmail.com or (607) 387-5711.

The morning after that first TCF Ithaca meeting I came across this illustration of a stand of pine trees I’d made for a friend. Immediately I connected the picture to what I was trying to portray by lining the parents up with outstretched arms. A stand of trees is a community of trees having a definite distinguishing characteristic, a particular uniformity, which makes it stand out from other nearby trees. The Compassionate Friends is my stand. These folks “get” who I am now. In a society that puts limits on grieving, and is uncomfortable discussing death or deceased loved ones, I have found a place to go where I can still be Marika’s Mom. In this journey called life, we all just want our children’s lives to matter, to be remembered. Hence, our Credo: We need not walk alone.  We are The Compassionate Friends.

 

Do you know someone who is grieving? Are you grieving?

 

Share Button

8 thoughts on “The Compassionate Friends: A New Chapter in Ithaca, New York

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    What a wonderful thing to do, Robin. A compassionate thing for others and for yourself, a place to be with a love and grief with people who understand. I’ll suggest the group to friends who have suffered through their children’s death.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      It’s wonderful for me too, Elaine. The people who come are from all different places, ages, religions and ways of looking at the world. And yet the bond of this shared experience is so strong. I feel like we are all cousins coming together, like we all have a common history, like their children are my children.

      Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      It is, Lynne. It is a branching-off of an already established group of bereaved parents that has been meeting up at Hospicare for over three years. We are growing (unfortunately, I guess) and we welcome new people. Somehow, having the support and sharing with those who “know where you’ve been” makes a big difference in how one faces grief. I feel so blessed and proud to be a part of this new chapter of The Compassionate Friends.

      Reply
  2. Lucy Bergstrom

    What a life-affirming and empathic gesture, to start a chapter of Compassionate Friends in Ithaca. This is just right for you, to create a secure community for people who have suffered unbearable loss. You’re so right, our society expects people who have lost a child, sibling or grandchild to “get over it” but of course, that would mean not loving the person any more. It’s all about undying love!

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      How come I never considered that? – “about undying love.” Gotta think about that some more. So simple. When I google ‘undying’ I get all these terrific terms like everlasting, infinite, unending, indestructible, inextinguishable, unfading, …. This could inspire me for my next blog, or at least keep me busy thinking for a good while. Anyway, TCF is definitely a good thing here in Ithaca. It’s amazing how many of us there are. Hugs, Lucy.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *