So… who could ever have known … that when I joined the Drowning Support Network eight years ago …being guided in that direction by a contact on TCF … in 2014 I would meet the lady who has become such a great virtual friend.
My Dear Karen! – we refer to each other as our ‘go-to’ person.
I can ‘go to’ Karen with anything I need to say, and she can ‘go to’ me too. We have shared so very much about our boys.
Picture then, how it was when we finally met in the unglamorous surroundings of British Rail’s Woking Station. Karen and her husband Erik travelled to the UK via Amsterdam, and suddenly …. There they were!
So many emails. So many shared confidences about our boys and how they passed. Different but similar. So much online talk about how we work through our grief and how we live, post loss. And the ways in which all our family relationships are affected by what has happened.
I have massive admiration for Karen because she is conquering the demons of travel — claustrophobia, flight phobia … and yet … and yet … she came ALL the WAY from Melbourne to the UK. Good on her!!
And then … we went to Kingston. One of our first ‘shares’ was the memorial plaques for our sons. Ours in Kingston, theirs in Australia.
And then we met with my bereavement pals. Three dear friends.
Three warm, compassionate women who have lost sons to different circumstances. We have been meeting around four times a year for years now. We are a tight group. We have never altered our dynamic. We share a lot. And…. my dear Karen was brave enough to come to one of our ‘ladies who do lunch’ meetings. I have to say that the ladies were on their best behaviour! And afterwards I received the message,
“Just wanted to say how lovely it was to meet Karen, such a nice lady and very enjoyable lunch!
Shame she can’t fly over for all our lunches.
I hope she enjoys her time over here, say hello from me next time you speak, or should that be ‘Good Day Sheila’…..”
And the web effect goes on.
Karen and Erik met in Gloucestershire with another mutual DSN friend – whom I have also met twice. A brave lady, who says,
“ I had the most extraordinary time with Karen and Erik yesterday. We clicked immediately and talked nonstop about our boys, exactly how we all dealt with their deaths and how we feel about and deal with life now, it was so lovely to talk to people who understand about what we went/go through. They are such lovely open people and I wish I had friends like that here. It’s quite strange how you can suddenly almost slot into a relationship with somebody, bonded immediately by this tragedy”.
And then…. and then….off they went further up country. They met with DSN people whom I do not know but whom they know. Then they met in Scotland with a lady who found me and my book and DSN all at the same time. The lovely warm Jackie!
She said, “Karen and I met up last night for drinks and a meal along with Erik and Ally. It was lovely to meet up with them, the connections between us all made for very relaxed and comfortable conversation (if a bit tearful).
We talked a lot of our precious boys and also how I found DSN through reading your book.
For me it is really lovely to hear that eventually there will be happy times …that we will find a way of living along with the overwhelming sadness we feel”.
How would all this have happened without the internet? … well…. it would not. I am so very thankful for these wonderful connections.