This May 29th marked the 17th anniversary of Lance’s death. It’s even longer for Scott and Erin. As I look back, I realize that the passage of time has helped but without the help and assistance of my Compassionate Friends, I fear I would be mired in despair and desperation some place along the road that we all are traveling. So, as I reach this milepost I would like to thank those who helped along the way.

Seventeen years ago, another bereaved parent volunteered to read the obituaries, saw Lance’s story and sent us a packet of information on the local TCF chapter. This seemingly small act of kindness had a huge impact on my life. Thank you!

My wife decided that she needed to go to that first TCF meeting in July ‘95 and dragged me kicking and resisting. I did not need a support group! I was just fine! Thank you, Kathy, and all the other bereaved moms who have done the same.

In my darkest hour I was having really weird thoughts. It was a bad dream and I would wake up. I was following motorcycles that looked like his. I saw him 100 times in a crowd. Fortunately another, more experienced, bereaved dad articulated his similar experiences in my sharing group. How comforting to realize if I was going nuts, I wasn’t going alone. Thank you.

At some point in my journey I found it helpful to talk less and listen more. An observant chapter leader saw that need and asked, at the right time, if I would help out as a facilitator. Thank you.

Later, the members of the chapter’s steering committee entrusted me with the chapter leadership for a period of time. I was fortunate to be surrounded by caring and helpful members who made the leadership easy. Thank you.

Somewhere along the line a national conference committee needed a workshop presenter and asked if I would consider presenting. To that committee and all the conference committees past and since, thank you.

As I am often apt to do when asked for a suggestion, I offered one. In retrospect I have become keenly aware of my error. TCF is the type of organization that is capable of turning a simple suggestion into a fulltime second job. So to whoever nominated me for the National Board thirteen years ago, thank you.

Then I compounded that error by agreeing to chair the 2003 National Conference. Again those caring and helpful TCFers who made up the conference committee came to my rescue and made it one of the most unique experiences on the journey. Thank you.

July 2005 marked the completion of my six years service on the board. I am grateful for the leadership example my predecessors set and enjoyed seeing future boards build on the legacy left by others. To the past, current and future members of the board, thank you.

None of this is possible without the leadership and support of the National Office staff. Their dedication and professionalism supports and co-ordinates the volunteer efforts across the US. Thank you.

In reflection, the utter devastation and tragedy of the deaths of children can provide us with some truly unique opportunities and gifts. Please understand that if it were possible, I would trade all of these sources of gratitude for the lives of my children. Unfortunately that is not the reality of our situation.

So as your make your journey through this valley called grief, make sure you recognize and take full advantage of the treasures along the way. At some point I fully expect to see Scott, Erin and Lance again and I suspect they will ask me what I did with the rest of my life. I want to be sure that my answer reflects the love I have for each of them. Thank you, kids.

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Patrick T. Malone

Patrick T. Malone, a Senior Partner with The PAR Group www.thepargroup.com , has decades of experience in operations, customer service, and sales management. Before joining PAR as a senior consultant in 1989, Patrick worked in a variety of management roles including Vice President - National Sales Manager for American Greetings Corporation and The Scott Companies. As a key member of the PAR team, Patrick has trained and consulted throughout the world with a wide range of organizations including The American Cancer Society, Banfield-The Pet Hospital, Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, DuPont, Ft. Dodge Animal Health, Hewlett-Packard, International Securities Exchange, Novell, Sensient Technologies, Siemens Medical, SOLAE, The United Way, and Verizon Wireless. His work with PAR clients has taken him to Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Spain, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Brazil, Australia, France and China. A frequent speaker at industry, management and bereavement conferences, he has presented and spoken before the Mississippi VMA and the Delaware VMA; the Frontline Forum at American School of International Management; Argosy University; the business schools at Kennesaw State University and Georgia State University; The American Society of Training and Development; and the Colleges of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University, Iowa State University, Louisiana State University, University of Florida, University of Minnesota, Tufts University, Compassionate Friends national and regional conferences. Patrick is the co-author of the new business book Cracking the Code to Leadership http://thepargroup.com/crackingCode.html Educated at John Carroll University, Patrick is a member of the CEO Action Group of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Growth Council, Legislative Committee and the Professional Services Executive Roundtable. He has also served as the National Board President of The Compassionate Friends (TCF), Inc., an international support group for bereaved parents and is a former Trustee of the TCF Foundation. He also serves as President of LMMA Inc. www.looktwicesavealifebumperstickers.com, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation dedicated to motorcycle safety and awareness and is the host of the weekly radio show "This Week in Blairsville" Patrick served on the National Board of Compassionate Friends (TCF) from 1999-2005. He served as treasurer from 2000-2003, and was President of the TCF board from 2003-2005. Patrick and his wife Kathy reside in Atlanta, Georgia and are the parents of Bryan, Lance (1970-1995), Scott (1971), Sean and Erin(1974) and the grandparents of Shannah, Devin, Riley, Katie and Megan. Patrick may be contacted at ptm4936@aol.com Patrick appeared on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart to discuss Grief in the Workplace. To listen to his interview with Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link: www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley062305.mp3

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