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FAQs

Your child has died and you became aware of an organization called The Compassionate Friends. You are thinking about attending a meeting, however, in anticipation there are a number of questions that you wanted to ask. In the beginning, we too were anxious and concerned…and then, we met a compassionate friend who reached out and said, “I understand”.


How do I know if it’s too soon after my child’s death to attend?

No one can say with certainty when is the right time to come to a meeting. Sometimes family members come shortly after the child has died while others wait considerably longer. If the chapter has been contacted, often a member will meet on a one-to-one basis until you feel ready to attend a group meeting.


Do I need to make an appointment to attend a meeting.

No appointments are needed. Just come as you are and whenever you feel up to it.


If I go to a meeting, will I have to talk?

No one is required to talk at any meeting. We understand how difficult that can be when our grief is fresh. We do ask that you listen, however.


Is there a charge to attend?

There is never a charge to attend a TCF meeting. We have already paid our dues…the death of our child/ren which makes this membership the most expensive in the world. Our chapters rely on voluntary donations from members, friends and the community at large.


My child was an adult and didn’t live at home. Can I still go to a meeting?

Chapter meetings are open to all families who have experienced the death of a child, at any age, from any cause. Regardless of age, we in TCF believe our children will always be thought of as just that…our children.


My partner says they won’t come with me. Can I come alone?

Yes. We all grieve differently and they may not be ready to take part just yet…or ever. And, likewise, many parents attend meetings without their partners.


Can I bring a friend with me?

Of course, you can bring a friend, but we ask that they, as well as all members, respect each other’s privacy. It is important for us to be able to share freely within our group and be sure confidences will be respected.


Do men attend meetings?

Yes. Although women are more comfortable expressing their feelings in a group setting, men do attend, especially for special events and specific programs. Chapters with a large attendance often have breakout sessions for “men only” on meeting nights. It’s a known fact that men and women grieve differently and therefore these groups are very supportive.


What happens at a meeting?

Some meetings are simply introducing ourselves and sharing our stories, our thoughts and feelings. At other times, chapters have short programs before the sharing time. The programs may include a guest speaker, viewing a video, or listening to an audio tape.


My child died from ___________. Will I still be welcome?

Yes. All families who have experienced the death of a child at any age, from any cause, are welcome.


Religion doesn’t matter to me anymore. Can people at a meeting accept that?

I think you will find TCF members are very tolerant of any views. After the death of a child, many priorities, as well as values, change.


I notice the meeting is in a church. Do I have to belong to a church to attend?

TCF has no religious affiliation. Chapters meetings are held in a wide variety of locations depending upon what is available in our communities.


I have baby-sitting problems. Would it be all right to bring my child with me?

While we understand the difficulties of finding child care, we must ask that any children attending with you be old enough to understand the meeting discussions and not be upset by them. Some chapters have sibling groups for children sixteen or older; check with your local chapter about this.


My child died several years ago, and I postponed my grief work. Now it’s catching up with me. Is it too late to come now?

We all grieve differently. Many parents don’t feel the need of a support group until years after the death of a child. It’s all right to come whenever you are ready, whether it’s soon after your child’s death, months or years later.


How long do people come to meetings?

People attend meetings until they no longer feel a need. Some attend just a few meetings while others come for years. Some are so thankful for the helpful support they’ve received that they stay to help in chapter leadership so they can be there for the next persons who walk through the doors seeking help.


Why is it that TCF recommends that I attend three meetings before deciding if it’s for me?

Often, the first meeting brings a lot of emotions to the surface and this may make the first meeting difficult. Some say that they bring home the pain of others after listening to their stories. Attending three meetings gives you time enough to allow your emotions to even out and to understand that in sharing there is healing.