My attitude to the morning is this: Whatever task I’m half-dreading on the Luas on the way in, this is the one I have to get down to first. Until then — no coffee!
My job is to raise funds for Anam Cara, an all-Ireland organisation that supports bereaved parents — principally through local peer support groups dotted around the country.
Right now, I’m writing a funding application to IPB Insurance to help Anam Cara establish a group in West Cork.
There are currently nine groups, including one that meets in Cork City on the first Wednesday of every month.
Cork is a huge county, so Anam Cara has recently hosted information evenings in Bantry.
Attendance there has demonstrated that there is a need, and so we plan to set up a West Cork group later this year, if we can secure funding.
Our individual fundraisers are brilliant — one supporter is currently organising a golf classic in Macroom for June, so I’ve been calling companies which have supported us in the past to see if they might put in a team.
I’m continually amazed by how generous people are.
Most days, a call to the Information Line will come in from a parent. I might answer, but then I pass the phone to Sharon, my boss, herself a bereaved parent.
There’s an immediate connection, because only those who’ve been through it can really understand each other.
This in turn is the Anam Cara model, this is how the meetings work. There’s a space where you can ‘drop the mask and be yourself’.
As one of the dads told me: “Shared experience is the best therapy I’ve found”.
Among bereaved parents are a small group with a further unimaginable burden: Those left with no surviving children.
In March and April, these parents, from around the country, came together to talk through their unique experience.
I’ve been going through the notes from these meetings, to make a first draft for a new Anam Cara booklet.
This will be added to our information pack, which already has seven booklets put together by bereaved parents on— A Dad’s Grief, Coping after Sudden Death, and other topics.
A free copy can be ordered by calling us on 085 2888888.
* Hugh Harkin is PR and funding coordinator with Anam Cara parental and sibling bereavement support
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