The time had come for the last meeting of our Support Group for bereaved families, parents and siblings, and we had decided to make a day of remembrance - for the children who had died and for the special times we had all spent together.
There was an air of apprehension as the day drew closer and the farewell was more imminent. Over time this group had grown to mean so much to everyone because of the support and friendship it offered and for the tears and laughter that were shared.
So on a sunny Saturday in September everyone made their way to Craig-y-Nos Country Park our normal venue for these get togethers, where there were refreshments available on their arrival. Soon the room was buzzing with everyone talking at once catching up on everything since they had last seen each other.
One of the families had compiled a DVD (set to music) depicting us all through the various stages of the progression of this group. We all settled down to watch it. The photographs were so poignant, sad but also funny, that it made us laugh and it made us cry which was a true reflection of the emotions that have been shared with each other throughout these group meetings. Every family was then given their own copy of the DVD which captured so many memories of the group, its friendship and support.
Every family also received a gift of a 'Signature Bear', a teddy that is designed to be written on, so that everyone, adult and child, could write a message on the bears for the families to take home with them as a keepsake The gift card that accompanied it was infused with wildflower seeds that they could plant in their garden and create a 'growing' memory as well. At various stages from then on there was a constant cry of 'Can I write on your bear' and by the end of the day each bear was covered with very special meaningful messages from others in the group.
We had a leisurely buffet lunch where everyone shared their thoughts and feelings, after which the children wrote messages on special star shaped pieces of paper that were also infused with wildflower seeds. The group then went for a relaxing stroll around the country park and visited the bench that they had donated in memory of their 'Stars', their children who had died, and which had a plaque on it engraved with their names. During the walk they also stopped on the bridge where the children dropped their messages into the water and watched them gently floating down the river. Then after the Forget-Me-Not seeds had been scattered we returned to 'our' room for the final farewell.
The day finished off with Tea and Coffee and lighting the candles on a big star shaped cake. The families exchanged contact details and made tentative plans for meeting up again next year sometime to share a meal or perhaps a barbeque on the beach.
This meeting had run true to form full of both sadness and happiness but with a firm agreement that the friends they had made here would be friends for life. As everyone left there was an overwhelming feeling that the ending of this group was not really an ending at all but a new beginning - the start of the next stage of their lives and that it really was the right time to move on.