0345 123 2304 helpline
0288 77 88 016 NI helpline | helpline@tcf.org.uk

TCF news

New fact sheets - making a complaint to or about the NHS

Most of the time the NHS does a great job of taking care of us and our loved ones, but there also can be circumstances where we may feel that it has failed in some way. It may be some action or lack of action by health professionals working in the NHS who, in our opinion, have contributed to the death of our child. In these circumstances, we may wish to make a complaint.

The Compassionate Friends have produced a series of fact sheets providing a summary of the complaints procedure in England as of 2017 from the perspective of a bereaved parent.

Part 1 gives a brief overview and some advice on reaching a decision on whether to complain or not.

Part 2 offers information about starting the complaints process.

Part 3 gives a description of the process and what you can expect.

It is hoped, in the future, to provide further information about the process in Scotland and Wales.

Worldwide Candle Lighting 2017 - love, light and remembrance

Join us on Sunday 10th December, 7pm in this event of love, light and remembrance.

2017 Book of Remembrance
Post a message of remembrance for your son or daughter, brother or sister, or grandchild.

Post your message and light a virtual candle here.

This worldwide event unites family and friends around the globe in lighting candles for one hour to honour the memories of the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and grandchildren who left too soon.

As candles are lit at 7:00 p.m. local time, hundreds of formal candle lighting events and thousands of informal candle lightings are held in quiet remembrance and to honour the memory of all children who have died but will never be forgotten.

Find out if there is a public event near you.

The 21st Annual Worldwide Candle Lighting gives bereaved families everywhere the opportunity to remember their child or children - so that their lights may always shine...


Gathering in Northamptonshire 'bursting with positive'.

“That gathering was bursting with positive! Broken people who fight to take another breath at times but can still laugh as much as they cry and hold the hand of another without any judgement”.

Elly Sutherland came to her first Compassionate Friends Gathering from 10-12 November 2017. Here she shares her impressions and experiences of the weekend.

I spent this past weekend at Sedgebrook Hall in the beautiful Northamptonshire countryside with well over a hundred other grieving parents. It was the National Gathering of The Compassionate Friends. If I tell people I am going to these weekends they look a little shocked. I mean who wants to get with a whole bunch of people that are sad and broken. Why would we want to spend a whole weekend together?!

From Scotland in the north to the Isle of Wight in the south we came, sharing stories of our beautiful children in an atmosphere of acceptance and without judgement. Some are new in their grief and some are veterans. Multiple loss, as in my case, is not so prevalent. People look at my badge in disbelief and ask about Rachel AND James. One or two thought maybe I had lost James and my name was Rachel so hard is it to imagine that both could be my deceased children. I cannot believe it myself!

I am never quite sure if it is the right thing to attend but each time has brought new friends, new perspectives, an opportunity to receive love and more importantly, to give it away. It requires I step out of my comfort zone. Such devastating losses shake your confidence challenging everything you thought you knew about yourself and life. Finding a new normal takes time, patience, and a lot of soul searching. My friend, Liz, talked me into joining the little voluntary choir. I have not sung in a choir since before Rachel died. Initially I was reluctant, but something brought a change of heart and I agreed. As it turns out this was the highlight of my weekend. We practiced a couple of times, with a lot of laughter, and sang our song for the whole group at the closing on Sunday. Singing in this small but enthusiastic group filled me with such peace and unexpected joy. Somewhere over these past years I had forgotten how to sing. I found my voice again.

Would you like a grief companion/befriender?

We understand that grieving for a child can be a lonely path. The whole philosophy behind TCF is putting bereaved parents in touch with each other to facilitate peer-to peer support.

We are now launching a new service to provide more one-to-one support.

So if you would like to be put in touch with another bereaved parent for some one-to-support please let us know.

Your grief companion/befriender will be another volunteer bereaved parent who will offer you informal support and friendship. He or she will probably be a little longer from their bereavement. They are not formally trained but will offer you an opportunity to share your grief and experiences together, to 'walk alongside' one another and to be a listening ear and an understanding 'friend'. The contact you have may be by phone, in person, email and/or Skype/Face Time etc.- whatever suits you both.

If you would like us to try and find you a grief companion/befriender please email the TCF office at info@tcf.org.uk

Would you like to be a grief companion/befriender?

If you would like to be a grief companion/befriender please also get in touch. You would be providing informal support and friendship to another more recently bereaved parent. It offers you and another parent an opportunity to share your grief and experiences together, to 'walk alongside' one another and in this way be a listening ear and an understanding 'friend'. The contact may be by phone, in person, email and/or Skype/Face Time, whatever suits you both.

If you feel you would like to do this please contact us at info@tcf.org.uk

At the end of the day I felt 'lighter'...support day in Hampshire

"At the end of the day I felt “lighter”. As if some of the weight of grief had been lifted by being shared".

Bereavement Support Day at The Wisdom Centre, Romsey, Hampshire on 2 September 2017

It would sound odd to anyone who has not lost a child that a gathering of grieving parents could be a “good” or even a positive and uplifting day. But the support day run by Joy Sebborn and Sue Brooks in Romsey at the start of September truly was a beautiful and special day.

Twenty one of us gathered at The Wisdom Centre in Romsey, a tranquil setting surrounded by wonderful gardens in the warm September sunshine. Some were newly bereaved by a few months while others were further along what can be a very lonely and isolating path.

Any nervousness we may have had was quickly banished by a cup of tea and plentiful biscuits. As I have always found with Compassionate Friends there is an immediate warmth, respect and empathy amongst us. We were able to talk freely about our children and our experiences of loss in a way we cannot usually do. This in itself is a huge relief as we so often have to hide our sadness to make others around us feel comfortable or simply because we just have to get on with our lives as we ourselves, or others expect us to.

Support our work

Each year thousands of parents suffer the loss of a son or a daughter. Please help us to support families in their time of greatest need.

Make a donation