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TCF Queensland holds support group meetings at it's Brisbane Drop in Centre once a month to offer a safe environment for bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings to express themselves in the company of others who have lost a child / sibling and understand their grief. Support meetings are also held regularly in many regional centres across Queensland, see the Country Calendar for details of the times and locations of our regional Chapters.
At the meetings you will find people of all ages whose children have died from all ages and causes. All of our groups will listen and share with you – and understand what you are feeling. They will be just like you – going through the natural grieving process. It can be a great comfort to be in the company of other parents who have been through a similar experience, and gain understanding and support to help you find your way through this difficult time.
You will feel a great relief as you talk about your child – the way he or she died, his or her place in the life of the family, feelings you may find difficult to express elsewhere. You will also hear about how others are learning to cope and survive after the death of their child or sibling. We all learn from each other through our shared experiences.
If you are considering attending your first meeting, we extend our hearts and loving thoughts, for we are bereaved as you and found it difficult to attend our first meeting. Generally a TCF member will be there to welcome you and put you at ease. We want to encourage you to reach out in your own time and in your own way, you do not have to speak, although you will have the opportunity. It may not be easy, as feelings may be overwhelming, you may ask yourself: "What will it be like? Who will be there? What do they do? Will it make me worse? What will people think of me? Will it make me cry? It is not unusual to find yourself busy, and not able to make it on the day you decide to go.
All of this is normal. You will hear the experiences of others, and as everyone at the meeting has had a similar experience, they will understand. You will eventually reach a comfort level with those you meet. It may take several regular attendances to find something of value for you. It also may be hard for you to believe, but occasionally you will hear laughter, often a reaction to a wonderful memory of a child. And remember, the privacy of our members is paramount, so what is said in the meeting stays in the meeting. It may not be easy, don't worry, we'll bring the tissues......but....together we will make it...we are The Compassionate Friends.
When: The second Tuesday of each month.
Time: 7.30 pm
The Drop In Centre (Meeting Room)
505 Bowen Terrace
New Farm, Brisbane
A friendly atmosphere, supper is provided
Parking: Plenty of street parking
Who can attend: Any grieving parent, grandparent, or adult sibling who wants to meet with a friend and learn how others are coping. Membership is not required to attend support meetings.
Cost: Only the effort it takes for our bereaved parents to gather together and meet another bereaved parent who really understands and cares.
View our Country Calendar for a list of TCF Chapters outside of metropolitan Brisbane, which provides details of their support group meeting times and locations. Telephone listeners are also available in many additional regional areas if you can't locate a Chapter in your area, or you are just after a friendly chat.
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, and we don't interrupt while another member is sharing their story.
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.
Meetings are open to all families who have experienced the death of a son or daughter, 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.
There is never a charge to attend a TCF meeting. We rely on voluntary donations from members, friends and the community at large and we do receive some government funding.
Most groups start with an informal time for welcoming people and having a cup of tea or coffee. The formal part of the meeting then begins with the facilitator speaking and perhaps reading a piece of poetry or a short story, after which time we introduce ourselves in turn and share our thoughts and feelings. At this time you may share as much or as little as you need. General discussion then follows and groups usually end with another cuppa for those members who wish to stay.
If you need a friend to drive you to the group, or you need their reassurance, they are welcome to attend. It is important for us to be able to share freely within our group and be sure confidences will be respected. Your friend would need to accept this confidentiality.
Yes. We all grieve differently and they may not be ready to take part just yet...or ever. And, likewise, many parents attend meetings without their partners.
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.
We 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.
TCF has no religious affiliation. Meetings are held in a wide variety of locations depending upon what is available in our communities.
No. Just come whenever you feel up to it. Group facilitator phone numbers are listed under our Contact Us page, if you wish to make contact prior to meetings.
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.
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.
By Joy Van Raalte, TCF Qld Co-ordinator
I remember walking into my very first TCF support meeting with great sadness in my heart, wondering if I was doing the right thing, dragging my feet as if I had a huge weight on my shoulders and very scared and anxious about what happened at these meetings.
When I entered the room I could hear people laughing and I was so angry and I thought 'Why are they laughing, don't they know my son has just died'. I was just about to turn around and walk out I was so upset when a very kind, gentle, caring lady approached me and said "Hello my name is Julia, you must be Joy, come on in and join us".
I have never looked back from that night and attended support meetings for many years, planning other arrangements around my TCF support meeting just so I could attend. Why?, you may ask, well after that first meeting I left feeling better off than some of the people that I had met that evening. As we sat in a circle to share our stories (and I was told I did not have to if I did not want to) I was overwhelmed when the lady next to me shared her story and she had lost two of her children, then the next lady to share her story had lost her only child, others had lost their child under circumstances that required ongoing distress such as court cases etc.
I found myself thinking thank goodness I have not lost my only child or two of my children or having to deal with the ongoing circumstances surrounding the death of my child. As we sat in that circle and shared our stories and a mother reached out and held the hand of another who was sobbing uncontrollably, and later another put her arm around the shoulder of another, then another would take a box of tissues to someone else crying, I began to realize that I was in the right place, a place where I could talk about my child over and over, a place where they understood that stabbing ache in my heart, why I couldn't get out of bed in the morning and why I thought about nothing but my dead child.
I began to make beautiful friendships and build a strong support network through the amazing people that I met at each meeting. Slowly I became stronger in knowing that I did not have to suffer this long road ahead alone and eventually I was able to help a newly bereaved parent who was attending a meeting for the first time and was probably feeling the same feelings that I did at that time.
I realise now that we do laugh again, the heaviness in our hearts lightens and the memories of our child/children grow stronger as time goes by and they are never forgotten.