Fay Green: The Compassionate Friends

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Fay Green is a leader at The Compassionate Friends organization in San Antonio, Texas, and recently talked with Open to Hope’s Dr. Gloria Horsley at the Association of Death Education and Counseling conference. Green’s latest project focuses on “group processing,” saying that it helps those who have lost someone “recognize that they’re not alone in their grief.” While every loss is different, the same emotions and feelings are often experienced in each situation. Isolation can exacerbate the grieving process, and a supportive community is critical.

The Compassionate Friends is an organization for parents who have lost children, regardless of age. It’s an international network, and Green points out the annual December event where—around the globe—candles are lit every hour in remembrances of loved ones lost is one of the many ways the network provides support. It’s meant to “give a little hope to all those parents who have experienced the death of a child,” she says.

Redefining Community

Attending a group meeting at The Compassionate Friends comes with a set of rules and guidelines to ensure everyone’s comfort. Nobody “has” to talk if they don’t want to. Being able to say “I pass” doesn’t mean a person isn’t participating in the group, but it’s very common for thoughts and emotions to come up as others share their own stories. Everyone grieves differently, and The Compassionate Friends prioritizes respecting all attendees.

“We want to create that safe haven for them to be able to share their story,” says Green. Repeatedly saying the name of someone who’s passed, sharing their story and talking about fond memories will guarantee that the person who’s passed won’t be forgotten. Green is committed to creating a strong San Antonio chapter, and looks forward to helping bolster chapters around the world.

 

 

 

 

Gloria Horsley

More Articles Written by Gloria

Dr. Gloria Horsley is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. She started "Open to Hope" to help the millions in the world with grief. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, and has worked in the field of family therapy for over 20 years. Dr. Horsley hosts the syndicated internet radio show, The Grief Blog which is one of the top ranked shows on Health Voice America. She serves the Compassionate Friends in a number of roles including as a Board of Directors, chapter leader, workshop facilitator, and frequently serves as media spokesperson. Dr. Horsley is often called on to present seminars throughout the country. She has made appearances on numerous television and radio programs including "The Today Show," "Montel Williams," and "Sallie Jessie Raphael." In addition, she has authored a number of articles and written several books including Teen Grief Relief with Dr. Heidi Horlsey, and The In-Law Survival Guide.

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  • Joleen Cairncross says:

    Just found this website online after I experienced a grief trigger 2 days ago while busy with my final exams to be a specialist doctor. I was open about it and I spoke to the people who triggered my grief with a case study during my exam. These people knew exactly the loss I had experienced, the circumstances, and I was shocked they had discussed in planning the exam whether this would trigger me or if I would be “ok and see it as just pretend”. Of course I didn’t see it as “pretend” when the story line of the case study was my worst life experience. It threw me off for a the last 2 days feeling again how awful I felt after the death of my loved one. Sometimes people have no tact and no empathy when they have never experienced the depth of losing a loved one. No one apologised, they expected me to brush it off. Like they expected me to brush it off a few years ago as a “fake patient” during students exam, 3 weeks after my loved one died. I had to be the “fake patient” with the student delivering bad news to me, anencephaly diagnosed on pregnancy ultrasound. The same people assumed I would be ok going through 30 students breaking bad news to me that my baby would not survive long after birth and recommend termination of pregnancy. When I had just lost a loved one 3 weeks earlier.

    I’ve always thought of starting a grief support group for people like me, who feel that no one really understands what you have gone through, just waiting for you to “get over it” and not speak to them about the death of your loved one. People avoid speaking about my loved one that died. Especially people who know both of us. I had a psychologist who helped me through my grief when I realised my own general practitioner didn’t want to deal with my grief. I stopped going to my GP and found myself a psychologist online.