Once in a while, a set of circumstances aligns itself in an amazing, truly extraordinary way and results in a profound experience that in itself may be viewed as a healing gift.
Last weekend, Shaun and I went to Sussex for a party. As it was quite a distance we booked into a B and B overnight. We chose the place on the basis of its proximity to the party venue and because it had good reviews, but our expectations were merely that it would be somewhere to lay our heads overnight.
Nothing could have prepared us for what was to come.
On arrival, Angela and Roy*, the charming hosts, showed us our room and invited us to join the other guests for tea and homemade scones in the garden. How civilised! We went outside and sat in the sunshine, superficially chatting in the way of a group of people who have just met. The other guests were a couple, Carol and Robert, who had also travelled from afar for a party and a softly spoken Scottish doctor, Maureen, who left the table after a few minutes to go on a cycle ride. We would meet her again in the morning.
The first coincidence was learning that both Roy and Robert had been successfully treated at around the same time for prostate cancer which had shown itself routinely rather than as a result of specific symptoms.
Carol then shared with us that she believed Robert’s cancer was in part brought on by the stress and trauma the couple had been through as a result of personal tragedy. She told us,
“We lost our 31 year old daughter to suicide when she was in residential care. She was being treated for mental issues following cannabis use – skunk, the strong stuff.”
Shaun and I sat there rather stunned and I felt for Angela and Roy as I explained that I too am a bereaved parent and that we lost James to accidental drowning nearly nine years ago. The bereaved – not just parents, but anyone who has suffered loss – quickly learn that the revelation of their loss can produce an instant halt to any conversation but Angela and Roy were in fact marvellous, by reacting to our disclosures with great sensitivity.
No one could possibly have anticipated that afternoon tea in the garden would be a rollercoaster event!
We were able to talk about our respective losses and after an emotional half hour or so, we all hugged and went our separate ways to prepare for our evening.
We regrouped in the morning for an excellent breakfast. Afterwards we spoke more about our children. Maureen was like a calm supervisory presence at the table. Incredibly, it turned out that she is a psychologist who works in a hospice. Every so often, she contributed her own take on grief and it was immensely helpful to hear her common sense approach. I particularly relate to her analogy of grief being like a spiral as this is something I recognise in my own emotions.
Once again, Angela and Roy were like calm earth angels supporting us all, providing tea and coffee and asking intelligent questions about how best to deal with the bereaved, with a genuine desire to know the ‘right’ things to say and do. I think they really appreciated the opportunity for such frank and open conversation in such an unusual scenario. Somehow a situation that could have been dark and depressing, was not.
I talked about “Into the Mourning Light” and how it had come together and it transpired that Carol also plans to write a book. Naturally, I suggested she contact my dear friend and writer Jan Andersen, who has played such an instrumental part in my own journey.
Carol and Robert had not heard of TCF (the Compassionate Friends organisation – run by bereaved parents for bereaved parents) and I was able to recommend this also.
Shaun and I were left reeling by the amazing coincidence of the coming together of such a group – two bereaved families and a totally appropriate clinical professional, but what really topped it off was the fact that the owners of the B and B were so remarkably tuned in to the needs of this group of strangers.
Finally, we did manage to have a good time at the party, in case you wondered! – and in yet another unexpected turn of events, I was asked to take on a client for Reiki therapy, which has not happened for a while, and was also totally out of the blue.
I can’t help but wonder what synchronistic alignment of planets, stars, angels, spirit….. brought together this seemingly unrelated group in such a special manner. I don’t want to question it, rather I am accepting it as a wonderful gift that has enriched each of us in subtle and positive ways. It was indeed a weekend to remember!
*all names have been changed for anonymity