“The Compassionate Friends is about transforming the pain of grief into the elixir of hope. It takes people out of the isolation society imposes on the bereaved and lets them express their grief naturally. With the shedding of tears, healing comes. And the newly bereaved get to see people who have survived and are learning to live and love again.”
—Simon Stephens, founder of The Compassionate Friends
The Compassionate Friends (TCF) was recommended to us by one of the pastors that helped us with River’s funeral services, he was kind enough to print us a list of local chapters and bring it by. What is TCF? A support group for bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings. After looking into it, and discussing the idea until the wee hours of many mornings, we decided it was worth a try. We thought that it would be a place to start, to see what they had to offer. We looked up the chapters near us, Clear Lake, Hudson and St. Paul (which is actually in Maplewood).
Clear Lake chapter has meetings the first Monday of each month. The first time we could go was in June. This happened to be their annual balloon release. Once we arrived, we really wondered if we could do this, could we sit down and talk about our precious baby who would have been just over a month old? We decided that we had made the drive and we’d better at least give it a shot. There was a beautiful ceremony planned, with songs that brought us to tears and poems that we could have written. We felt safe and the fact that we were sitting in a room full of people who knew exactly how we felt, was very comforting. It was during the Kenny Chesney song, “Who You’d Be Today” that the sun came in through the stained glass windows and we could feel intense heat on our backs. We looked at each other with tears in our eyes and knew we had found the right place.
The next month we couldn’t make it to the Clear Lake chapter due to scheduling issues, and we decided that we needed to go, we ended up at St. Paul’s chapter on the second Thursday. There were so many people who were so supportive and welcoming, we felt comfortable sharing our son and his life with them. We were in a place where our feelings were always understood. We were able to meet the parents of other children who had very different experiences but feel the same heartache that we do. We continued to attend these two chapters until we decided that we really wanted to have something closer. We had found out that there was a requirement to be chapter leaders: we needed to be 18 months into our journey.
This date fell in November of 2010 and we requested the information from the National Office. We received this and completed all of the necessary paperwork, this was submitted at the end of December. On January 6th, 2011 the Northwoods Chapter of TCF was approved! We feel this is really an honor to be able to offer a place that helped us find meaning in life again to newly bereaved families and others further down the road, right here in Milltown!
The Northwoods Chapter will be meeting the 3rd Tuesday of each month beginning at 7:00 at Milltown Lutheran Church - 113 Main St W Milltown, WI 54858. Contact chapter leader: Deanna Wheeler at 715-553-1152, or email firstname.lastname@example.org