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 other times they wait longer. Some people who attend shortly after the child’s death may decide not to come back until they’re more ready. This is a personal decision.

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 so fresh. We do ask that you listen, however.

Is there a charge to attend? There is never a charge to attend a TCF meeting. Our chapters rely on voluntary donations from members, friends and the community at large.

Do I need a reservation before I come to a meeting? No reservations are needed. Just come whenever you feel up to it.

I notice the meeting is in a church. Do I have to belong to a church to attend? TCF has no religious affiliation at all. Chapters meetings are held in a wide variety of locations depending upon what is available in our communities.

What happens at a meeting? Some meetings we simply introduce ourselves and share our thoughts and feelings. At other times, chapters have short programs before or after the sharing time. The programs may include a brief guest speaker, viewing a video tape, or listening to an audio tape or CD. Chapters usually have special months when they hold a balloon launch or have a memorial candle lighting.

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 child died from ___. Will I be welcome? Yes. All families who have experienced the death of a child at any age, from any cause, are welcome.

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.

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. Many chapters are divided almost evenly between men and women while others are not. Men grieve, too, and are welcome to attend meetings for support.

My husband says he won’t come with me. Can I come alone? Yes. We all grieve differently and he may not be ready to take part just yet…or ever. And, likewise, many husbands attend meetings without their wives.

My spouse won’t come with me. Can I come alone? Yes. We all grieve differently and your spouse or significant other may not be ready to take part just yet . . . or ever.

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.

My child died seven 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 later or years later.

We have surviving children at home who would benefit from a support group. May we bring them with us? While older teen and adult siblings are welcome to attend, the meetings are not appropriate for younger children. The policy of The Compassionate Friends is that only those old enough to drive to the meetings be permitted to attend.

I have babysitting problems. Would it be all right to bring my five-year-old 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 twelve or older; check with your local chapter.

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.