Bereaved Mandurah families will gather at Dalrymple Park on January 28, to honour deceased loved ones during International Children’s Memorial Day.
A “Flowers on the Water” ceremony will help remove the isolation parents feel after losing their child, according to The Compassionate Friends Mandurah’s Margot McAllister.
During the special event grieving locals will be able to take the opportunity to write messages to their late children on biodegradable material attached to flowers.
The flowers will then be placed in the canals where they will float away, down stream.
Ms McAllister said the event had a special place in her heart after she lost her son to suicide more than 30 years ago, aged 23.
“My only son died at the age of 23. His death was a suicide and The Compassionate Friends was where I found the understanding I was looking for,” she said.
“I had a strong urge to talk to someone who knew what I was experiencing.
“It’s a huge trauma that you can’t really understand the depth of, unless you’ve been there.”
Ms McAllister said the unique tradition helped others come to terms with the terrible grief that followed tragedies.
The day will give parents an opportunity to reflect on their loss through hearing similar stories from others.
“The event itself is quite simple and it doesn’t take a lot of time,” she said.
“We have flowers and we have cards in the shape of butterflies.
“Anyone who wants to come in memory of someone, they write their own message. It’s very symbolic.
“What they’re doing is they’re acknowledging that child or children that have gone too soon.
“The symbolism of sending them a message is that their connection with the child never goes away.
“Grief is the cost of love and you don’t ever stop loving your child. As long as you live you’re going to grieve for your child.
“To be with people who understand is important, to acknowledge, to be public about it, to keep that connection going. It helps with healing.
“I wouldn’t miss this for the world. I help other people but it helps me too.”
The ceremony alternates between Rockingham and Mandurah each year.
International Children’s Memorial Day is actually held on January 29, the date The Compassionate Friends was foundered in England in 1969.
Ms McAllister said as the day fell on a Monday the Mandurah ceremony would be held on January 28.
The Compassionate Friends is the largest self-help bereavement group in the world, that operates in about 30 countries.
Ms McAllister is the Australian representative for The Compassionate Friends.
A light breakfast, speeches and poems will also be a feature of the ceremony.
“A couple of people will often read out verses or poems they’ve come across that helped them,” she said.
Ms McAllister said music will also be played, including John Williamson’s song Flower on the Water.
She also thanked the City of Mandurah for waiving Dalrymple Park’s hiring fees.
The ceremony will start at 8.15am.
Attendees are encouraged to provide a gold coin donation.
Flowers are provided.
For more information and for catering purposes please contact Ms McAllister on 9535 7761.