I had gone back to school after my Dad died in a car accident in the summer holidays, and now it was time for Scouts to re-start.
We all lined up, and the leader called us all to order, silence gradually replacing the mayhem in the hut as 25 boys shuffled themselves more or less into tidy groups. He was a bit of an old-fashioned disciplinarian – at times maybe even a borderline bully – so we didn’t hang about.
It all seemed pretty normal.
“Now then, before we get going. I believe that one of you lads has suffered a bereavement……?”
Everyone looked around. I looked around. I don’t suppose any of us had heard the word before. It took a few moments, but I was quite bright, so I worked out it must have meant me. I put up my hand.
As the evening’s activities were getting going he took me on one side and we went into the store, and sat on the piles of old canvas tents. He said he hoped I would want to keep coming to Scouts; if I didn’t that was fine, he’d understand, but it might be good for me if I kept going; or, I could go sometimes but not others if that was best. I sensed his discomfort. But there was also a gentleness I’d never seen in him prior to that.
I did keep going; and it was good for me. I was aware too, that he was probably a little easier on me than the other boys.
Strange, the details you remember, so many years along. You carry a lot, when there’s no-one to carry it for you.
Please take a moment to look at Grief Encounter, in case you know someone who needs a little gentle help.