Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Compassionate Friends

Last night I went to my first meeting of The Compassionate Friends (TCF), an international organization dedicated to those who have lost a child of any age, by any cause, at any time. Our youngest son, Daniel, my stepson, died in November 2009, at the age of twenty. His death was a deep, stunning shock. The repercussions of his death have been broad, deep, wide...exceeding practically every strong adjective I could possibly come up with.

For the first several months, we did the best we could just to make it through each day. Many times I've told myself, "Just do what needs to be done and make time pass until you can go to bed." Sleeping is sometimes the only way to make time pass without pain.

I've felt at times that I could suffocate in my own sadness. At other times, we've laughed and told "Daniel stories" and have been able to feel grateful and happy about having had him in our lives. Those laughing times don't happen often, but at least they do happen, and I believe they'll increase as the years pass. But I miss him. We all do.

Daniel's death, like any death, is changing family relationships. This reordering can be hard and is often not welcome. But it happens anyway, sweeping up the grievers in emotional and physical whirlwinds. In the past 17 months, other life changes, such as the death of friends and a pet, and health challenges, have added to the stressful mix.

So, after pushing the tough feelings down for a while, I finally feel ready to take a deeper look into myself. I needed a time not to feel, but now I need to deal with those feelings. So, after hearing high praise from a family member about The Compassionate Friends, I decided to check out the meeting in our area.

A small group of us gathered in the quiet of a Wednesday evening. The organizers, themselves bereaved parents, started us off by telling their own story. From there, the rest of us talked, if we wanted to, about our child's story. In some ways it was hard to witness other families' sorrow, and it was also affirming to hear them express feelings similar to my own. We cried sometimes and smiled in understanding agreement at other times.

What I like most about The Compassionate Friends approach is that no one tells anyone else how to feel, how to act, when to talk, when to be silent. No one interrupts. No one lectures or preaches or drapes others in expectations of what they "should" feel or do. All beliefs and experiences and feelings are honoured.

To gain a better understanding of someone whose child has died, or to help yourself in this situation, look for help with The Compassionate Friends. Explore their website here. In future posts, I'll share other resources that might help with bereavement.


Anonymous said...


This is a inquiry for the webmaster/admin here at

May I use part of the information from your blog post above if I provide a backlink back to this website?


Kate J. Thompson said...

Please tell me who you are, Peter, as well as how, where and why you want to use part of my post. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

So very true! No one is judged on how they feel about such a loss.

Kate J. Thompson said...

Amen, my friend.