Community invited to special anniversary

| 29 Sep 2011 | 08:23

Honesdale - “Celebration” and “bereavement” are not often heard in the same sentence, unless one is talking about the twentieth anniversary of the local chapter of The Compassionate Friends. On April 19 at Wayne Memorial Hospital, this self-help group for families of children who have died will hold a celebration to mark two decades of offering friendship and understanding to grieving relatives—like Sandy Worobey of Preston Township. “The Compassionate Friends helped me get through and still does,” says the mother of three young boys. She lost her oldest son, Joshua, in a farm accident in 1999. He was only seven years old. “Just to sit next to someone who’s gone through something like what I’ve been through, the terrible gut- wrenching pain, it helps make everything seem alright—even if it isn’t.” The Wayne County Friends chapter started in 1986 and is one of 600 chapters nationally. Founded originally in England in 1969, the group’s mission is to assist families toward the positive resolution of grief following the death of a child of any age and to provide information to help others be supportive. The coordinator and founder of the local chapter, Sharon Gumpper of Honesdale, says the group’s regular meetings at Wayne Memorial Hospital “provide a caring environment in which bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings can work through their grief with the help of others who have been there.” In addition to the meetings, Gumpper says a chapter newsletter, telephone calls, personal visits and educational information offer outreach support to families going through the bereavement process. An estimated 20 to 30 people currently attend the monthly meetings. The public is invited to attend the April 19 event, which will include a video presentation and remarks by Wayne Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Officer David Hoff. It will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the David Katz Conference Room on the second floor of the new building at the hospital. “It’s a celebration, yes,” says Gumpper, “but it may also be an opportunity—no commitment required—for someone who’s grieving to meet someone else in a similar situation and find comfort.” For Sandy Worobey, the pain and sorrow of losing her son are still achingly real, but she says the support of The Compassionate Friends is invaluable—“I’ve been coming for seven years, and I look forward to every meeting every month.” Refreshments will be served. Reservations are requested. Call 570-253-2503. For more information about the Friends, visit the group’s website at