MARYSTOWN, NL – The Compassionate Friends will hold their 21st annual worldwide candlelight vigil Dec. 10.
Barbara Noseworthy and Maureen Shea, two of the founding members of the Burin Peninsula Compassionate Friends chapter, are inviting parents who have lost a child to join them at The Merge for the event.
“It is done from time zone to zone,” explained Noseworthy. “It starts in Australia from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and it moves right around the world so that there’s a 24-hour vigil.”
The event is always held on the second Sunday of December. This year it falls on the 10th.
The group, which started its chapter on the Burin Peninsula just over a year ago, took part in the event last year.
“There was a small number of us,” said Noseworthy. “We were just getting started. We hadn’t gotten the word out.”
The vigil is also open to family and friends of bereaved parents, and you do not need to be a member of the group to take part.
The group holds monthly meetings, where parents can come together with others who are dealing with the loss of a child.
Noseworthy and her husband Ruben lost their daughter Johanna and Ruben’s mother Alice in a car accident in 2005.
“Back after Johanna’s accident we had a bereaved parents group that lasted for several months at the time, but it fizzled out,” explained Noseworthy.
She said several people asked her if she was going to start up the group again, including Maureen Shea, who lost her son Jonathan in 2015 in a snowmobile accident.
Shea said she reached out to Noseworthy for advice.
“I wanted to know how they were surviving,” said Shea. “How they were after getting through it. It amazed me that they were still standing.”
Noseworthy said it was not until a year later that she was able to look at the idea of starting another group.
“What I wanted to do this time was to get something that could function without me having to be there all the time – (Compassionate Friends) was set up and had a foundation.”
Noseworthy said Compassionate Friends had already established one chapter on the island in St. John’s.
She worked with the organization to develop a chapter on the Burin Peninsula, which meets monthly at The Merge in Marystown.
“The meetings are at the same place, the same time always,” she said. “It’s always the last Wednesday of every month. We meet at 7 o’clock and that’s when we have our sharing circles.”
She added parents who attend the meeting are welcome to share their stories with the group if they wish, or they can just sit, listen and take comfort in knowing there are others who understand what they are going through.
“No one says that you have to say anything,” said Noseworthy. “You’re welcome just to sit there. Some people come and cry for the entire two hours if that’s what you feel you need to do.”
Shea added, “if that’s a release that they can’t do at home, they know they’re not judged doing it at the meeting – no one judges you.”
She also added that being able to help other helps her deal with her own loss.
“It makes me feel better to be able to help somebody else,” she said.
“If you help one other person trying to get through it, then that’s a good place to be.”
Noseworthy added, “I can go back and look at where I was 12 years ago to where I am now, and listen to these people. I think they look to someone like myself who is still surviving,” she said.
“I would like to think that we give them some sense of hope in saying that we were there. Time doesn’t heal, not at all – it just changes. It’s different. It doesn’t get easier either, it gets different. You get accustomed to it and you learn in time to put it in a place that you can make peace with it.”
Noseworthy compares dealing with loss to giving birth.
“It’s like labour really – when someone goes through labour, you don’t forget (the pain), but you think about it differently.”