Chapter Meeting Info
What to Expect
We require all new members to speak to one of the co-leaders prior to attending your first meeting. We will obtain contact information and discuss your unique situation to determine how we can best support you prior to your first virtual or in person meeting. In addition, available resources will be discussed during this time.
Before your First Meeting
- Prescreening Call – Before you attend your first meeting, you will be contacted for a prescreening.
- This is not an open meeting, once prescreened, you will receive a zoom link each week
- All is private and confidential
With more than 660 chapters of The Compassionate Friends across the United States, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam, there are a number of different chapter meeting formats. 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 in their area.
Generally, most meetings are held once a month (some chapters do hold two or have a secondary meeting location that serves a neighboring area) for 1 ½ or 2 hours in the evening or on the weekend. Our meetings should not be confused with counseling sessions. Participants are all bereaved parents (guardians), adult siblings, or grandparents who are dealing with the death of a child. We have been where you are and we continue to return to offer friendship and support through the natural grieving process after a child dies.
The Monadnock Chapter meetings primarily consist of a listening and sharing discussion. Occasionally we will have a speaker or program related to bereavement. Some larger chapters may break up into smaller groups for sharing so that everyone has the opportunity to talk about their grief. Some chapters also have special sub-groups for siblings, Spanish language members, or even the most newly bereaved.
You will hear from others whose child died from pre-birth to adulthood. Some who attend will be young and some will be old. Some will be women and some will be men. Some will come alone while others will come as couples.
Speaking and Sharing at the Meeting
If you’re 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. Some people believe it’s harder to talk in front of strangers about something so intimate as the loss of a child, but because everyone else at the meeting has had a similar experience, they understand much of what you are feeling and you will eventually reach a comfort level with those you meet. 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. We’re all there to work toward healing.
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.
When you come to a meeting of The Compassionate Friends, we suggest that you attend at least three meetings before you decide if the group is for you. For many, the first meeting may also be the first time they’ve been able to talk about what has happened to them and to their family and to the child. This can bring a lot of emotion to the forefront, emotion which seems to disappear over the months as you talk about your loss. Don’t worry, we’ll bring the tissues. Tears are a natural release for a grieving person and is a way to help cleanse the body of toxins.
More than 17,000 bereaved parents, siblings, and grandparents in need of support attend TCF meetings in the U.S. every month. You will find it is so very true what we often say,
“You Need Not Walk Alone!”
Guidelines for our Support Group Meetings
This is a safe place. In order to keep it safe and comfortable for each of us, we must have some guidelines.
- What is spoken here stays here. Confidentiality is expected.
- Share only as much as it is comfortable for you. No one is required to speak.
- Listening to others is a good growth experience too
- Your story is true and unique and not open to comparison.
- Please be respectful of the person sharing and do not interrupt them.
- Please give them your attention and don’t engage in side conversations.
- Each of us has equal time to share, please don’t monopolize.
- Please be sensitive to our ifferences. Each person spirituality and belief system is to be honored.
- While you are welcome to share that your faith or spiritual experience as helped you will not use meeting time to preach about religion or the afterlife.
- We will not be judgmental. Thoughts and feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are.
- Please avoid giving advice.
- This is a support group, not a therapy group. Support means we will walk with each other.
- We will not try to change you or how you feel.
- We will simply be here beside you so you will know that you need not walk alone.