Fairfax Virginia Chapter of the compassionate freinds.  Supporting family after a child dies
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Frequently Asked Questions

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 attend a meeting. Sometimes family members come shortly after the child has died while others wait a few weeks. Some who attend shortly after the child's death may decide to come back when they are more ready, while others welcome the support right away. It is not uncommon to see parents come even months or years after a loss.

Do I need a reservation before I come to a meeting?
No reservations are needed. Just come 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 the grief is so fresh and intensely painful. There is no pressure to speak or share unless you wish to.

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.

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 that have experienced the death of a child, at any age, from any cause. Regardless of our child's age, we in TCF believe our children will always be thought of as just that . . . our children.

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.

Can I bring a friend with me the first time for support?
Yes, if you feel you need additional support, you may bring a friend for the first time only, that you attend a meeting.  After that you will be embraced by those who have lost a child and will lend support in helping you to feel that you do not walk alone. It is important for us to be able to share freely within our group with those who have experienced and truly understand the loss of a child.

Do men attend meetings?
Yes. Many chapters are divided evenly between men and women while others are not. The Fairfax Chapter has several men in the group who help other men understand how their grief is different.

What happens at a meeting?
You are warmly welcomed and given an opportunity to speak with other parents who have lost a child.  We share a brief introduction, often split into two groups to share our thoughts and feelings or discuss a topic of the month relating to loss. Again no pressure to speak, listenting is fine. Meetings start promptly at 7:30 and end by 9:00 pm. If it is your child's birth/death month, parents may make a short presentation with photos or a video following the meeting.

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

My views on beliefs, religion, etc. have changed.  Can people at a meeting accept that?
The Compassionate Friends has no religious affiliation. You will find TCF members are not judgmental of any views. After the death of a child, many priorities, as well as values, change.

I notice the meeting is held at a church. Do I have to belong to a church to attend? 
No, all faiths are welcome.  While TCF has no religious affiliation, chapter meetings are held in a wide variety of locations depending upon what is available in the community.

I have babysitting problems. Would it be all right to bring my young child with me?
Childrern should be age 16 and over to attend.

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. Some parents don't feel the need for a support group until years after the death of a child. It's perfectly fine to come whenever you are ready, whether it's soon after your child's death, months later, 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. Many are so thankful for the helpful support they received when they lost their child that they stay to give back to others who are newly bereaved.

Why is it that TCF recommends that I attend three meetings before deciding if it's for me? 
Often, the first meeting can be difficult as it brings emotions to the surface. It may also be hard to lsiten to others stories on their loss. Attending three meetings gives you time enough to allow your emotions to even out and to understand that in sharing there is healing.

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