Bereaved families invited to walk to remember lost loved ones

TCF founding member Margaret McAllister, piper Viv Riley and TCF president Gary Withers at the 2017 Walk to Remember. Photo: Supplied.
TCF founding member Margaret McAllister, piper Viv Riley and TCF president Gary Withers at the 2017 Walk to Remember. Photo: Supplied.

The Compassionate Friends (TCF) Mandurah will host their 14th annual Walk to Remember on Sunday, March 10 to honour the memories of lost loved ones.

The walk is dedicated to supporting community members who have lost someone and helps to raise funds and community awareness of the charity organisation.

TCF founding member Margot McAllister said it was a very healing and helpful memorial event.

"We do welcome anyone who wants to walk in memory of any loved one, not just parents walking in memory of their children," she said.

"It helps to get together with other people publicly to make this walk."

After being founded in England in 1969, the Mandurah branch began helping bereaved families in the Peel region in 2002.

Mrs McAllister, who lost her son to suicide and grandson to SIDS, was part of the Mandurah branch's first memorial walk in 2006.

The death of a child, whether it's murder, suicide, motor vehicle accident, illness, miscarriage, it effects every part of your life - all of your relationships, your marriage, your work, your school work.

Margot McAllister

She said it was important for bereaved community members to be aware of the organisation, made up of a team of volunteers trained to provide help but who have also experienced the loss of a child themselves.

"You never expect a child to die before you but if that happens, they need to know where to go and that there is an organisation there that can help," she said.

"Not a week goes by without at least one more family having to make contact with us."

Mrs McAllister said TCF offer a variety of free services to help members "grieve in a healthy way", including telephone support available 24/7.

"Our primary purpose is to help families after a child has died and that can be a child of any age - most of our members have actually lost children as young adults," she said.

"This is something that is totally not expected, it completely takes the ground from under your feet.

"Bereaved parents experience what the experts call 'complicated grief' and it certainly is, it's a hugely traumatic event.

"The death of a child, whether it's murder, suicide, motor vehicle accident, illness, miscarriage, it effects every part of your life - all of your relationships, your marriage, your work, your school work.

"It's necessary to have that support to change from a totally devastated person to a strong person once again

"We can look people in the eye and say 'you can survive it because we survived it' and we'll walk with you through it."

The walkers will meet on Sunday, March 10 at Dalrymple Park, Mandurah at 9.30am for a 10am start launched by Mandurah MP David Templeman

The walk is led by a piper and will return to the park for a sausage sizzle prepared by the Lions Club of Mandurah.

On arrival, walkers are given a ribbon to write the names of their loved ones and a paper heart to write a personal message.

The hearts are planted in a heart shape with rocks to create a symbolic memorial.

The heart-shaped memorial. Photo: Supplied.

The heart-shaped memorial. Photo: Supplied.

Participants can be sponsored by friends, family and members of the public to participate in the event with all funds going back into the charity.

For more information, visit www.tcfmandurah.com.au. To register contact TCF on 9535 7761 or email tcfmandurah@bigpond.com.