I am continually amazed at the choreography of the dance that I experience at The Compassionate Friends national conference, and the huge impact is has on my body, mind and spirit when I walk off the dance floor and return home.

From spending 4 or 5 days on “planet grief,” we return home to the mundane realities of the real world and try to blend in with its preoccupied inhabitants who for the most part know nothing of our secret planet. They don’t wear buttons of a dead child pinned to their clothing; they don’t wear name tags around their neck identifying their loss; and for most part they don’t wear butterfly clothing or TCF T-shirts with a broken red heart.

When I return to work, I get surprised looks from people who are caught off guard when I hug them good morning without thinking.  I feel a deep separation anxiety for my fellow travelers to planet grief with its honest hugs, cathartic kisses, and deep seated dialogues.  The heart I wore on my sleeve now feels vulnerable and exposed to the harsh elements of the daily routine and the machine of the workaday world.

I am jonesing for my friends, my family of wounded survivors who succor my soul and I theirs in our dance of recovery.  In a word, I feel drifty and lost for a few days; like getting your land legs back slowly after a week at sea I feel unsteady and unbalanced and I weep easily.  I miss my family from planet grief and feel the impact of its loss for another year.

Today, I am decompressing, degriefing so to speak, remembering and cherishing the magic moments of the weekend and thanking God for the privilege to be there and serve the bereaved with every quark of my being. I help facilitate healing in the most sacred of places, the human heart and soul and I’m always humbled and healed myself by the experience.

We all come to planet grief from many different worlds. Worlds of all kinds; a plethora of differences in race, age, religion, occupation, economic class, intellect and political views, yet we congregate as one family and find a common ground in compassion; finding common ground in love. It is in helping to heal that we are healed ourselves, like one beggar sharing his bread with another beggar both are sustained for another day.

On the walk on Sunday, it was revealed to us that TCF had to register our Sunday TCF walk as a protest if we were to walk the streets of Washington D.C. That’s all right; we are protestors. We have our signs, our banners, our bibs, our T-shirts, our name tags and buttons. We are the compassionate friends, we need not walk alone and we don’t — we walk in unison.  We all arrived from a network of paths and losses as varied as the stars and together on common ground we protest to the world society’s ignorance of our forever journey and the injustice to our hearts.

We are changing the world views of grief and loss. We are educating the fortunate others of our journey and how we survive. We are intentional survivors who are working on our grief proactively, living our loss, not letting go, not get over, not becoming bitter, but becoming better. We are the compassionate friends.

God bless you all and until we meet again when like Brigadoon, dear planet grief appears for a few days in the summer and for a short time we find  the camaraderie of hope to sustain us for another year.

Peace, love and light

Mitch Carmody

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Mitch Carmody

Mitch Carmody

After suffering many familial losses from a young age and ultimately with the death of his nine-year-old son of cancer in 1987, Mitch Carmody, has struggled with the grief journey and how grief is processed and perceived in this country. He published a book in 2002 called “Letters To My Son, a journey through grief." The book has now reached the bereaved in every state and 7 other countries. From the book’s success he now travels locally and around the country lecturing on the grief process and/or conducting workshops on surviving the loss of a loved one. He has also conducted a variety of workshops with The Compassionate Friends and Bereaved Parents USA as well as a sought after speaker for many keynote presentations. As a trained hospice volunteer, he has also helped many loved ones and their families through the dying process. Mitch has published several articles in national bereavement periodicals, is a frequent contributor to TCF Atlanta On-line and currently a staff writer for Living with Loss Magazine. Through email correspondence on his website he council’s the bereaved on a daily basis. Since the death of his son 19 years ago, Mitch has dedicated his life to helping those individuals and families whom are trying to navigate in the uncharted territory of death, dying and the bereavement process. Through his compassionate insight and gentle spirit he will touch your heart and hopefully give you tools to aid you on your journey Mitch lives in rural Minnesota with my wife of thirty years, he enjoys riding my horses, gardening, writing, helping others, giving blood monthly and creating works of art. He is also a proud first time grandfather to the daughter of their surviving daughter Meagan. To learn more about Mitch and his work, go to: www.HeartlightStudios.net. Mitch appeared on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” discussing “Letters From My Son.” To hear Mitch being interviewed on this show by Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link: www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley042706.mp3 Mitch appeared again on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” discussing the Holidays, Helpful or Hurtful? To hear Mitch interviewed by Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link: www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley122508.mp3

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