Compassion for the journey

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.
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.

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 Scotland, 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 Remember on Sunday, March 8. The event will begin at 10.30am with the walk leaving Charles Patterson Park in Burswood.