HELPING OTHERS: Sue Fleming knows the devastation and heartache that comes from losing a child.
HELPING OTHERS: Sue Fleming knows the devastation and heartache that comes from losing a child. Liana Walker

Loss of 4-year-old son inspires mum to help grieving parents

THE simple but powerful act of talking with others would be the aim of a new group hoping to provide support for grieving parents, grandparents, and siblings in the region.

Stanthorpe woman and group co-ordinator Sue Fleming said she was organising an "expression of interest" night in an effort to form a network of people - the Compassionate Friends Support Group - to be set up through The Compassionate Friends (TCF) network, which helps families who have lost a child.

Mrs Fleming's four-year-old son Sean died in a tragic accident 20 years ago when a wall at his Stanthorpe daycare centre collapsed on him.

At the time, Mrs Fleming and her husband had another son at school and a one-year-old son also at the centre.

The couple also had a daughter, who is now 18, and her sons are 27 and 22.

"It's 20 years since my son died. And I think that's why people come to me informally for support, and really just to have a coffee and talk.

"When the child first dies, there's so much beautiful support but then it fades and every day you think about your child.

"We had no family at all here so that was hard too. But the support from the community was amazing and family, from a long distance, did as much as they could."

She said a group would allow people to be with others at any stage during their grieving process and could help people who felt "completely alone" to voice their feelings.

She said TCF was a global self-help organisation offering friendship and understanding to families after the death of a child.

Mrs Fleming said the group, which she hoped could reach out to people in Stanthorpe, Warwick and Tenterfield, would not be a counselling service, but rather "a group of people who can sit and talk and provide support".

"We're happy for people just to sit.

"They're not obliged to talk or say anything.

"TCF offers support in the grief and trauma that follows the death of a child at any age and from any cause."

A telephone service was also available which people can call to talk to someone at any time of the day or night.

"Just trying to talk to your friends or family or any informal support group you've got is important. That's what got me through.

"And to realise that everyone grieves differently. There's no rules when it comes to grieving," Mrs Fleming said.

The expressions of interest meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 21, at the QCWA tea rooms in Victoria Street, Stanthorpe, from 7pm, and will be hosted by Mrs Fleming with two staff members from the Brisbane office.

If you are unable to attend but are interested in future gatherings, contact Sue Fleming on 0417793016 or Kristie on 32542657 or www.compassionatefriendsqld.org.au


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