The 3rd Annual Myocarditis Foundation Family Support Meeting took place September 25-26, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland. In addition to talks by highly regarded cardiologists, researchers in myocarditis, and family members, two members of the Washington DC Chapter of Compassionate Friends, were key speakers in the support of our families.
Dr. Coralease Ruff, PhD and Dr. Kimberly Battle, PhD explained Compassionate Friends is an International Support Group by peers of bereaved parents and siblings. It started in England in the late 1960’s and came to America in the 70’s. In their talk they stressed that grief has no time frame. Grief is a normal, natural reaction to the death of a loved one. Grief is a process, not an event. It is a complex process guided by past experiences and a person’s religious beliefs.
Grief affects the ability to think, absorb information, make decisions and reason logically. Grief becomes “not normal” when a person is unable to take care of themselves and starts to isolate from others. That is when the person needs to seek help in their grieving process.
Siblings are afraid to express their grief because they don’t want to upset their parents further. Parents need to understand this and bring their other children into the process of grieving by doing things together such as celebrating the child’s birthday or making their favorite food or dessert, or even doing something that the child who is gone liked to do. You do not want to forget them, they are part of the family whether present now or not. Ask the siblings what they would like to do to honor/memorialize their lost sibling. Ask them to write about their feelings, acknowledge their loss. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings.
Compassionate Friends speakers are themselves grieving parents and grieving siblings and are highly trained in the topics that they speak on. Our attendees had a very interactive session and verbalized how important it was for them to hear these details. We thank the DC Chapter of Compassionate Friends for their giving of themselves to helping others get through this very difficult time in their lives.