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The mission of The Compassionate Friends: When a child dies, at any age, the family suffers intense pain and may feel hopeless and isolated. The Compassionate Friends provides highly personal comfort, hope, and support to every family experiencing the death of a son, daughter, brother, sister or grandchild, and helps others better assist the grieving family.

The secret of TCF’s success if simple, seasoned grievers reach out to the newly bereaved to help them get through the loss of their child, sibling or grandchild. TCF offers friendship and understanding and reaches out to all bereaved parents, grandparents and adult sibling across barriers of religion, race, income or ethnic group.

Each chapter along with the supporting National Office, is committed to helping every bereaved parent, sibling or grandparent who may walk through our doors or contact us.  The Compassionate Friends was founded over 40 years ago when a chaplain at the Warwickshire Hospital in England brought together two sets of grieving parents and realized that the support they gave each other was better than anything he, as a chaplain, could ever say or provide. Meeting around a kitchen table, the Lawleys and the Henderson’s were joined by a bereaved mother and chaplain, Simon Stephens, The Society of the Compassionate Friends was born. The Compassionate Friends jumped across the ocean and was established in the United States with the first chapter in 1978 in Illinois.

Today more than 700 chapters serving all 50 states plus Washington, D. C., Puerto Rico and Guam offer friendship, understanding, and hope to bereaved parents, siblings, grandparents and other family members during the natural grieving process after a child has died. Around the world more than 30 countries have a Compassionate Friends presence, encircling the globe with support so desperately needed when the worst has happened. Chapter leaders and steering committees work together to determine how the sessions can best be structured to help both the newly bereaved and returning members.

When you attend a chapter session you won't find professionals running the meetings and giving advice. We're not therapists and we do not provide counseling. Everyone is just like you, someone who is going through the natural grieving process. When you first attend a meeting of The Compassionate Friends, we ask that you attend at least three or four meetings before you decide if the group is for you. For many, the first meeting may also be the first time you have shared your story with others. If you find that TCF is not the group for you, we encourage you to seek other ways of expressing your grief.

If you are shy or unable to talk about your loss, you do not have to speak, although you will have the opportunity. No one is forced to talk about his or her loss. Much can be gained by listening. A point to always keep in mind is that what is said in the meeting stays in the meeting. The privacy of our members is important. 

As we meet together, we learn from each other through our shared experiences. You will find people attending the meetings of all ages. You will find people mourning the loss of an adult child and others who are mourning the loss of a child who never had an opportunity to take its first breath. No one comes to judge another. You will find that children, siblings and grandchildren are being mourned who have died from all ages and all causes. The pain is the same; that of the loss of hopes and dreams that will never be realized. Know that there will be sadness and tears as we talk about our loss, but there will also be joy and laughter as we remember special times with our children, siblings and grandchildren. It may be hard for you to believe, but occasionally you will hear laughter. This is not a dishonor to any child, rather it is often a reaction to a wonderful memory of a child, sibling or grandchild. 

  Note: We do not have accommodations for young children, but teenage and older siblings are welcomed.

Some survivors try to think their way through grief. That doesn't work. Grief is a 
releasing process, a discovery process, a healing process. We cannot release or 
discover or heal by the use of our minds alone. The brain must follow the heart at  a 
respectful distance.  It is our hearts that ache when a loved one dies. It is our 
emotions that are most drastically affected. Certainly the mind suffers, 
the mind recalls,  the mind may plot and plan and wish, but it is the heart 
that will blaze the trail through the thicket of grief.
Carol Staudacher