Meetings

"Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break."
~William Shakespeare

The Topeka TCF Chapter holds monthly support group meetings on the fourth Monday of each month (unless otherwise noted in the newsletter and/or on this website) from 7:00-8:30 p.m. We meet in the Formation Room of the Most Pure Heart of Mary Church, 3601 SW 17th St., Topeka, KS.

Upcoming Meetings Scroll down to the bottom of this page for a map showing location of Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic Church

 
 

Monday
JANUARY 25, 2016
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Topic:
Signs, Symbols & Dreams

At this month's meeting we will have the chance to talk about unusual happenings we may have experienced since the death of our child, grandchild or sibling.  Bereaved people often talk about something that has happened to them that made them feel as though they were somehow contacted or felt more connected to their deceased loved one.  Sometimes dreams about our child can be comforting, sometimes unsettling.  This meeting will offer us the opportunity to share any such events that have happened to us in an open and non-judgemental setting.

Monday
FEBRUARY 22, 2016
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Topic:
Know Me, Know My Child

This meeting offers each of us an opportunity to share something about our child, grandchild or sibling.  Plan to bring a story, a poem, some music, a piece of clothing, a book, a photograph, or a toy--anything that you would like to share that relates to your loved one.  In our group we understand the importance of remembering and being able to talk about our children in a loving and supportive atmosphere of acceptance and non-judgement.  As we get to know each other, let's also get to know each child's story, their likes and dislikes, their favorite thing to eat, whatever you would like to share.
 

Monday
MARCH 28, 2016
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Topic: What Do I Do With My Child's Things - Preserving Memories

Regardless of the age of the child, there are always "things" - possessions - that must be dealt with following the death.  This process is different for those having lost an infant, a child who still lived at home, or an adult child who was on their own.  We will discuss why this process can be difficult as well as painful in deciding what to do with possessions; why it is important not to let others pressure into dealing with this task until you are ready; and how saving certain types of items may help you in preserving memories.  We will also talk about safe ways to preserve clothing items, photos, digital media, etc.
 

Monday
APRIL 25, 2016
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Topic: The AskIt Basket

At this meeting we invite those attending to ask questions about any aspect of their grief journey.  We will also pass the AskIt Basket that contains questions that will stimulate discussion and sharing within the group.  No questions are off limits.  The grief experience can be a multi-faceted and confusing one and, as we know, is unique in many ways for each person.  But it can be helpful to hear others opinions and experiences as well as share some of your own.
 

Monday
MAY 23, 2016
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Topic: Forgiveness

Many bereaved people find that issues of forgiveness can play a big part in their healing process.  Sometimes the inability to forgive can prove a stumbling block towards growth and healing on your grief journey.  Let’s talk about the topic of forgiveness—do we feel the need to forgive ourselves for something we may have said or done while our child was still alive?  Do we need to forgive those we may feel were in some way responsible for our child’s death?  Do we need to forgive our child for actions they may have taken that resulted in their death?  Forgiveness can be a complex topic and we will try and explore some of the reasons why forgiveness can be a healing element in our grief work.

 
Monday
June 27, 2016
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Topic: Men to the Right, Women to the Left
 
It has long been known that men and women are just "wired" differently and therefore the grief response and journey can be very different for mothers and fathers.  This sometimes makes it difficult for couples to relate easily to each other following the death of their child.  After our group opening together, we will divide into two groups by gender that will have the opportunity to talk, share and discuss the grief process and journey with others who may truly understand what they are experiencing.  The different grieving styles of men and women may also impact your relationship with other family members as well.  We especially encourage all fathers to plan to attend.
 
Monday
July 25, 2016
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Topic: Preparing for Milestone Events
 
One of the difficult things those who have lost a child have to deal with are what are called "milestone events" - birthdays and death anniversaries are probably the most common, but there certainly can be other days throughout the year that are just more difficult than others.  Some examples might include high school or college graduations of your child's friends or a surviving sibling; weddings and baby showers as those same people move along through life events that your child will never experience. We will talk about ideas for handling these tough days and creative ways to remember your loved one on milestone days.  Please Note: Because the MPH Parish Center will be closed for maintenance during our July meeting time, we will be meeting in the St. Vincent Center south of the Parish Center and School building.  Follow the signs to the entrance on the north side of the building.  We will be meeting downstairs in the basement area.
 

Monday
August 22, 2016
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Topic:
Partners Sharing Session
 
During this program, members of the group split up in pairs.  At a signal from the facilitator, one person in each group spend about 10 minutes telling their “partner” whatever they want to about their child, the circumstances of the child’s death, the feelings he or she is experiencing because of the death, or anything else the individual wishes to tell.  During this telling, the partner listens, but does not interrupt, express opinions, etc.  This is an opportunity for the individual speaking to have their partner's complete and undivided attention as they talk about their child and the death.  At the end of 10 minutes, the partners switch off, with the second person having their 10 minutes of uninterrupted talk time.  Following the second 10 minutes, both individuals have the opportunity to ask questions of each other, express thoughts and opinions about what each has said, etc.
 

Saturday (NOTE DATE CHANGE)
September 17, 2016
11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
23rd Annual Memorial Picnic and Dove Release
(Takes the place of our regular September support group meeting )
 
We invite you to join us for this special event in loving memory of all our children, grandchildren and siblings who "left too soon".  The event will include a potluck luncheon, a Memorial Program and a Dove Release.  You will also have the opportunity to sponsor a Dove in memory of your loved one.   In the coming months watch for further details on this website and in our bimonthly newsletter.  But mark your calendars now to save the date! You can find a PDF of the Picnic/Dove Sponsorship Form under Special Events on this website.

Monday
October 24, 2016
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Topic: Coping with the Holidays: Will It Ever Get Easier?
 
It's getting to be "that" time of year again when we are inundated with preparations for the upcoming holidays - Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and New Years.  Holiday times can be especially difficult for grieving families and this meeting will address some of the issues we face during the season of holidays.  We will also talk about strategies to make the holidays less stressful and ways in which you can remember your loved one at holiday time. We invite you to bring your questions, concerns and also to share things you have found helpful in dealing with the holidays.

Monday
November 28, 2016
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Topic: Grief and Your Health
 
Grieving is probably the most difficult thing we may do it our lifetime.  It is physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting.  The kind of strain we are under as we grieve can certainly affect our health and we need to be particularly mindful of this during the first two years following our loss. We will talk about some of the health issues we may face, strategies for keeping ourselves healthy as we grieve, and ways in which we can move forward on our grief journey without compromising our health.
 
Monday
December 12, 2016
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Topic: Memorial Candle Lighting
 
Please plan to join us for this special event to honor the lives of our children, grandchildren and siblings who “left too soon”. You are asked to bring a framed photo of your loved one (if you do not have photos, plan to bring something that represents them to you). During the Candle Lighting we will share special music, poetry and each person will have an opportunity to light a votive candle in memory of that special life and place that candle by their photo/memento. After the Candle Lighting we will have a time for fellowship and refreshments. You are encouraged to bring your or your child’s favorite holiday treat to share with the group. Votive candles are provided. PLEASE NOTE DATE CHANGE:  This event takes the place of our regular December support group meeting.

INCLEMENT WEATHER NOTE: We try never to have to cancel a meeting, however if the weather is severe, please check local media outlets for cancellation announcements. Generally in winter, if USD 501 has cancelled school because of unsafe driving conditions, our TCF meeting will also be cancelled.


  


Topeka TCF Meeting Information/ Ground Rules

A Compassionate Friends meeting offers the opportunity to speak freely about all parts of the grief experience. We ask only that the participants observe some basic ground rules designed to make everyone more comfortable and secure. We want these meetings to be a “safe haven” for all those grieving the death of a child, grandchild or sibling.

  • The group offers the freedom of complete honesty. Say whatever is in your heart – not what you think others want to hear.
  • Tears are a necessary and important part of the healing process, and a Compassionate Friends meeting is the one place you can cry as openly as you wish. Everyone here understands in a very special way.
  • Accept each person just as they are – regardless of what they say or do. Each person’s grief experience is unique. No one should be shocked or impatient with anyone else. The opportunity to be sensitive to the needs of others is a healing and growing experience. We know we are making real progress when “our mirrors start becoming windows”.
  • We encourage everyone to share something during the discussion. Sometimes memories are simply too new and painful, emotions may be too strong to enable us to speak. Please know that we understand if you choose not to speak for whatever reason. You are never required to participate if you don’t want to - much may be learned by just listening.
  • Everyone should have an opportunity to share during the discussion if they want to. Try not to monopolize the conversation. Some of us may need to talk more at different times; each meeting is unique in this respect.
  • Attending a Compassionate Friends meeting does not obligate you to a single thing. You have the freedom to attend as often or as seldom as you wish. You may wish to continue coming to meetings as long as you feel you are being helped or are reaching out to help the more newly bereaved.
  • TCF is non-denominational and non-sectarian. We care for ALL bereaved parents, regardless of race, religious creed, social status, age or language. It makes no difference if your child was young or old or what the cause of death may have been. We are a family broken by grief, but mended by love.
  • There are never any individual dues or membership fees to participate. We do have some financial needs, such as the newsletter and special memorial events, but they have to be met through voluntary contributions, love gifts, and fundraising efforts.
  • Please respect the privacy of each person who comes to our group. Please do not share what you hear at this group with friends or family. Everyone must agree that all information shared within this group, stays within the group and will remain private and confidential. It is important to create an atmosphere of trust in order for us to be able to share our deepest emotions.
  • We will hear many heartbreaking stories during the meetings. You should not add their sadness to your own, but understand that such opportunities to share are an important part of the healing process.
  • If this is your first meeting, you may feel overwhelmed, but please try to attend at least three meetings before you decide if this group will be helpful for you. Each month we will cover a different topic that may help you on your grief journey. Be aware that some people may actually feel worse after their first meeting – this is likely because they have had the opportunity to come face-to-face with the reality of their loss. Please do not let this discourage you from trying another meeting. It takes courage to attend, but the benefits can be enormous.
  • We want everyone to be as comfortable as possible at the meetings and therefore keep them informal by design. If you need to get up and walk around or take a small “time out” by leaving the meeting for a few minutes, that is perfectly OK.
  • Our meetings are non-smoking meetings. If you wish to smoke, please step outside the building to do so and please do not leave cigarette butts on church property.
  • We ask that you either turn off or turn cell phones and pagers to “vibrate” mode during the meetings. We realize that sometimes you need to be reachable by phone, but we do not want to disturb the discussion by having phones ringing.
  • We make every effort to officially break the meeting at 8:30 p.m. for those who may need to leave. However, we invite you to stay if you like to have refreshments and have time to get to know the members of our group.
  • We are each other’s greatest source of support, for we understand as others cannot, the depth and complexity of the grief experience following the death of our beloved child, grandchild or sibling.



Common Meeting 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 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.

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 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.

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?
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.

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 videotape, or listening to an audiotape or CD. Chapters usually have special months when they hold a balloon launch or have a memorial candle lighting.

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

Religion doesn't matter to me anymore. Can people at a meeting accept that?
The Compassionate Friends has no religious affiliation. You will find TCF members are very tolerant of any views. After the death of a child, many priorities, as well as values, change.

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

I have babysitting problems. Would it be all right to bring my five-year-old with me?
While we understand the difficulties of finding childcare, 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.

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 for 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.

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.

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.


MOST PURE HEART OF MARY CATHOLIC CHURCH
3601 SW 17th St
Topeka, Kansas

We meet in the Formation Room of Most Pure Heart.  It is best to try and park in the west parking lot in front of the brick building that is adjacent to the church itself.  Walk up towards the covered walkway between the church and this building and enter through the door on the north side.  There will be signs beginning at that doorway that will direct you to the Formation Room meeting site.