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.
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.