When Pauline Trotter’s 25-year-old son Andre died in a car accident more than six years ago, she was unsure where to turn.
    Through the internet she discovered The Compassionate Friends, where she found other parents who had suffered similar losses.
    She was now co-ordinator for the group’s Central Otago branch.
    The international organisation offered friendship and understanding to bereaved parents, grandparents, siblings and partners, and Mrs Trotter did not want people to miss out on the comfort of others because of difficulties caused by Covid-19.
    She said you never got over the loss of a child, but you learned to live with it.
    Branch president Gil Elliott, whose daughter was murdered in 2008, said The Compassionate Friends was not about moving on from a loved one’s death — ‘‘it’s about charting a different course’’.
    He said the organisation ‘‘is not a counselling service, it’s a listening service’’.
    Mrs Trotter said knowing she was not alone in her pain or how it affected her was important, and helping others inspired her to take up an official role.
    ‘‘I feel the rapport more with people who have felt the rawness of the loss. Part of you has died.
    ‘‘I’m giving back and offering positive outcomes for people. That is part of the healing process.’’
    She said Andre used to ask her what was his purpose in life. Now she believed his purpose was teaching his friends to seize the day.
    His university friends now realised their own vulnerabilities, were calling their parents more often, and making the most of the time they had.
    She and Andre had hiked the Rob Roy Track together and his friends paid for a memorial seat to be placed on the trail. The inscription reads: ‘‘Every man dies but not every man lives. Forever young.’’
    His friends were also committed to completing the 52 Peaks Challenge, a goal Andre had set for himself. Î The group can be contacted by email at [email protected] or the compassionatefriends.org.nz website.