TERRE HAUTE —
There are some things in life you probably have to experience to fully understand.
That’s why Compassionate Friends, a nonprofit organization, exists: To provide understanding and support for people whose children, siblings or grandchildren have died.
More than 100 “compassionate friends” gathered Sunday in Deming Park to comfort each other, get to know each other and to take a “Walk to Remember” those they have lost.
The loss of a child or sibling is not something from which you ever really recover, several family members at the event said.
The sense of loss “never goes away,” said Cindy McClain, an organizer of the event whose son, Dylan Michael McClain, passed away at age 20 in 2007.
As a leader of Compassionate Friends, she has received calls from parents who lost children more than a decade ago. In one case, she received a call from a mother whose child died 50 years ago, she said.
“So it never goes away,” McClain said.
Compassionate Friends is an organization with more than 600 chapters worldwide. Two Wabash Valley chapters, one based in Terre Haute and one based in Marshall, Ill., hosted Sunday’s walk and lunch at the park.
“These parents need someone who understands,” said Sarah LeMay, whose son Justin Tyler Lake died in 2010 after a car accident. Justin’s sister, Christy Marts, was also at Sunday’s walk sporting a T-shirt with her brother’s picture and reading: “In loving memory of Justin, my best friend.”
“He really was my best friend,” Marts said holding her 3-year-old son, Haydon. “The outside world really doesn’t understand.”
At about 2 p.m., the large group, most wearing Compassionate Friends T-shirts, started their short walk through the east side of the park. They began in the Oakley Playground where they could see and hear many parents and grandparents enjoying an afternoon watching their own children at play.
“Just knowing you are not alone” makes Compassionate Friends a wonderful organization, said Sherri Andrews, whose son, James David Andrews, died at age 18 three years ago. At first, you ask yourself why it happened, Andrews said. “After a time you realize there’s really no rhyme or reason.”
A few of the other young people remembered Sunday included Scott Javins, who died at age 20 in 2002, Cam Langenfeld, 11, who died in 2007, Sylus Allen Eder, 21 months, who died in January, Alana “Lanie” Roby, 19, who died in an auto accident in 2010, D.J. Wilson, 20, who died in 1995, also from a car accident, and Hans Anacker, 32, who died after being struck by a car in 2002.
“It gives us a place to talk about things,” said Pam Bird, a core member of Compassionate Friends and mother to Langenfeld. “Our worst nightmare after losing a child is that they will be forgotten,” Bird said. “You don’t get over this. And you don’t really move on.”
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TERRE HAUTE —
There are some things in life you probably have to experience to fully understand.
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