Com­pas­sion for the jour­ney


Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Como Burswood -

FEEL­ING iso­lated and grief­stricken af­ter her son took his own life, Alison Flana­gan said it was “sheer luck” that she heard about Com­pas­sion­ate Friends of WA on ABC Coun­try Ra­dio.

She made the com­mit­ment to travel the four-hour round trip from her home in Nar­ro­gin to Rhe­ola Street in West Perth to at­tend sup­port meet­ings.

“It was just a life-saver for me,” Ms Flana­gan said, de­scrib­ing it as a high turn­ing point in her life that made the most dif­fer­ence in equip­ping her with the skills to work through her grief.

The group con­tin­ued to be her sup­port when her mar­riage broke down and when, nine years later, her youngest son Ai­dan also ended his life send­ing Ms Flana­gan into a “black hole”.

Yet in the midst of her fam­ily’s trauma, she com­pleted two coun­selling cour­ses and is cur­rently pres­i­dent of the group that helped give her new life.

“Com­pas­sion­ate Friends of WA is for par­ents, sib­lings and grand­par­ents be­cause each per­son in the fam­ily grieves in a dif­fer­ent way,” she said.

“It’s not a quick fix when you lose a child; it de­pends on the in­di­vid­ual and the peo­ple around you.

“I think that men are start­ing to learn that it’s im­por­tant to go with their part­ners.”

Ms Flana­gan, who has a daugh­ter who lives in Scot- land, said the group had about 20 mem­bers and of­fered a way for griev­ing peo­ple to be recog­nised and gave a space for peo­ple to talk about those they have lost.

Com­pas­sion­ate Friends of WA will host an an­nual fundraiser and Walk to Re- mem­ber on Sun­day, March 8. The event will begin at 10.30am with the walk leav­ing Charles Pat­ter­son Park in Burswood.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie

A path through the pain: Alison Flana­gan, hold­ing pic­tures of the two sons she lost to sui­cide, turned to Com­pas­sion­ate Friends and said it saved her life. She is now the pres­i­dent of the group.

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