Meetings

ATTENTION:

TOPEKA TCF CHAPTER In-PERSON MEETINGS RESUME!!!
 
Meeting are from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Formation Room at Most Pure Heart of Mary Church, 3601 S.W. 17th St. in Topeka.  A map is available at the bottom of this page. We no longer require mask protocols UNLESS you have not been fully vaccinated.  Then you are requested to wear a mask during the meeting to protect others in attendance.
 
We will have bottled water/coffee available but if you want
something else to drink, you can bring your own beverage.
 
 
 
Monday, January 24th
"Preparing for and Handling Milestone Events"
 
As bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings we know that there are many milestones we must face folowing the death of our child, grandchild, brother or sister. We all have to experience the “firsts” of the initial year of loss – first holiday, first birthday, first death anniversary date, etc. As time goes on, we must face graduations, weddings, baby showers and other events that will not include our loved one. Let’s talk about comforting and creative ways to prepare for and handle milestone events. Plan to share things that you have learned that have made these times easier for you, or at least tolerable. Whether we like it or not, these milestones will come, and preparing for them can be a gift we give ourselves.
 
Monday, February 28th
"Where am I at on My Grief Journey"
 
The grief journey is a personal passage", and may be different for different people.  Your grief journey may be influenced by any previous experiences you have had dealing with loss.  It may also be influenced by the relationshp you had with the person who has died. The circumstances of the death can also influence the journey. There is no real set pattern for one’s grief journey although there are quite likely many emotions and reactions that many of us may share.  Let’s talk about where we feel we are in our journey, what obstacles we feel we are facing in our quest for healing and strategies we migh employ to ease our progress on the journey."
 
Monday, March 28th
"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, April 25th
"The New Me - How Has My Child's Death Changed Me?"
 
It is a singularly true statement that after the death of our child we will never be the same person again. But who is this “new” person? How has my child’s death changed my self-image of who I am? Have the things my child “taught” me during their life, changed me into who I am today? Are these changes for the better? Can I accept who the “new” me has become?
 


Monday, May 23rd
"Know Me, Know My Child"
 
This is an opportunity for all chapter members to talk about their children. All are encouraged to bring a picture,poem, song, favorite toy, piece of clothing, etc. and share it with the group as they talk about their beloved child. We feel it is important to not only know each other, but to know who our children was, that our children lived and made an impact and a difference. While tears may flow at this program, it offers us a chance to do what we need most--remember and talk about our child in an atmosphere of caring and acceptance.
 
 
 
Monday, June 27th
"Men to the Right, Women to the Left"
 
During this program, the entire group has our opening together. Following the preliminaries, we split into groups by sex to discuss issues that are gender specific. We have found that this is a very helpful program for both men and women, but especially for the men. In a same-gender group they seem to feel more at ease in expressing anger, guilt, frustration etc. The women also found that they felt freer to discuss problems they have had with their spouses in dealing with their child’s death in an all-woman group. Depending on the age of the participants, the age of their dead child, and how far along they are in their grief - the issues discussed may vary.
 
Monday, July 25th
"What Do I Do With My Anger?"
 
Every parent who has a child die will probably experience anger--some will experience intense anger that may frighten and confuse them. Others will not recognize the anger they may be feeling but are taking it out on others around them in inappropriate ways. We will discuss the fact that parents have every right to be angry that this terrible thing has happened to them, but that we need to acknowledge our anger and find safe outlets for its expression. We will talk about being angry with members of the medical community, the drunk driver, our child for making bad choices, even God.
 
Monday, August 22nd
"Unexpected Sadness"
 
Just when you feel as though you are doing “better”, you are caught by a wave of unexpected sadness. It doesn’t have to come on a special day like a birthday, death anniversary or other holiday. It can, and usually does come “out of the blue” and brings you down emotionally. How can we best deal with these times of unexpected or unanticipated sadness, will they always happen, can we “see” them coming? The group can discuss their experiences with such times of sadness, how they handled it at the time, how they cope with it now, etc.
 
Monday, September 26th
"Triggers"
 
Triggers are sights, words, events in our surroundings and daily activities that touch our grief and bring it to the surface in sometimes uncontrollable ways. Triggers can be memorabilia, places, objects, songs, smells, people, or anything that brings back memories.  Let’s talk about what our “triggers” are, how they affect us, and how we handle them.  Are your “triggers” always painful or do they sometimes bring pleasant memories to mind? This meeting offers us the opportunity to discuss our “triggers” and the part they may play in our individual grief journeys.
 


Monday, October 24th
"Will it Ever Be a Season With Joy Again? Handling the Holidays"
 
Beginning with Halloween and running through Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s, as grievers we are faced with the onslaught of holiday activities and “cheer” which we may find difficult and hard to deal with. At this meeting we will discuss some strategies for making this time of year less stressful. We will also talk about ways to include your loved ones in whatever holiday traditions you are comfortable with. Plan to share any ideas that have been helpful for you in handling the holidays. We can all learn from each other’s experiences.
 
 
Monday, November 28th
"I Am Thankful for..."
 
Often times in the midst of the pain of our grief it is difficult to feel thankful for anything. But we need to step back a bit and focus on the things for which we can be thankful - the loving support of friends and family, the good health of our remaining family members, being part of a group that allows us to share our most deeply held inner thoughts about our child, grandchild or sibling to name a few. But perhaps one of the things we can be most thankful for is the fact that we had that child, grandchild or sibling in our lives; be thankful for the joy and memories they brought to us; thankful that we can move to a place where we remember not only that they died, but that THEY LIVED. Let’s talk about “thankfulness” and how embracing it can impact our grief journey.
 
Monday, December 12th
"Memorial Candle Lighting"
NOTE: Date Change
 
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 desktop 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. 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.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak
whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break."
~William Shakespeare
 
 
 



 

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.