Memorial bench unveiled for loved ones

A NEW memorial bench has been unveiled by The Compassionate Friends Hobart at Cornelian Bay Cemetery to commemorate the premature loss of a child or sibling.

The bench is one of three that has been set up by The Compassionate Friends Hobart in Millingtons cemeteries across Hobart – the other two at the Kingston Cemetery and the East Risdon Cemetery.

Each bench has a plaque with contact details for the group and the words, “Loved beyond words, Missed beyond measure” engraved on it.

To raise funds, the group conducted a raffle and raised $1,810 in total, with there being a $200 donation from Palliative Care Tasmania.

About $900 went towards installing the benches and plaques, while the rest was donated towards The Compassionate Friends Victoria, the group which oversees the Hobart chapter and covers their back-office expenses.

The Compassionate Friends Hobart is a chapter of the worldwide movement of bereaved parents and siblings who support each other through the wrenching, premature loss of a child or sibling.

Together, members of the group find a way to cope with this new reality and rebuild their lives.

The Compassionate Friends Hobart group facilitator Maxine Barry lost her 24-year-old daughter Hannah to a car accident in 2002 and joined the group in Summer the same year.

She said the group has helped her connect with people who have had similar experiences.

“Being in a group with other people and hearing their experiences was just so normalising,” she said.

“It reminds me that it’s a journey and I’m not in the same place that I was at the start where I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my living body.

“There’s no good way to lose a child, but we draw strength from the strengths others show in their sort of predicament.”

Ms Barry said she didn’t like the term moving on as it had the implication that you were going to go back to the way you used to be before your child died.

“We’ll never be the same people, we’ve had to find another way to live our lives that incorporates the loss – that’s always going to be with us until we die,” she said.

“Our grief is where we are closest to our child because it’s the most recent emotion we’ve had in relation to our child, and if they took the grief away, they would also be taking away the closeness and the love.

“We all have little ways of keeping them close with us, we’ll carry them with us, both psychologically and practically.”

For Ms Barry, she got a tattoo of the Celtic letter for ‘h’ on the 10-year anniversary of her daughter’s death, due to Hannah’s proud Irish heritage.

Five years later, Ms Barry got another tattoo of a butterfly made out of Hannah’s drawings in the margin of her university work book along with a quote from one of Hannah’s poems – “We would give all of our long lives for two days of flight.”

If you need support, phone the 24/7 freecall helpline, staffed by bereaved parents, on 1300 064 068.

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