Compassionate Friends Chapter established locally

Published 9:30am Friday, September 6, 2013

What can anyone possibly do to comfort family members after the death of a child?

June Faircloth knows only too well the pain and loss she has felt ever since the death of her son Dylan, who died three years ago in an auto accident. At that time she was directed to contact a chapter of Compassionate Friends in Tallahassee, who reached out to help her cope.

Compassionate Friends, founded 40 years ago by Simon Stephens, is a grief support group for those who have suffered the death of a child. There are now more than 650 chapters in all 50 states.

Stephens has said their purpose is, “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. The newly bereaved get to see people who have survived and are learning to live and love again.”

Faircloth has long known that a local chapter of the national organization was needed, and was reminded of it time and again as she saw members of the community suffer loss after loss. She began to seek help in organizing a chapter, especially when the two Alexander girls died as the result of an auto accident. At that time any person organizing a chapter had to have been three years out from the date of the loss. That has since changed to 18 months.

With the most recent tragedy of the three young persons killed in August, she knew she had to get things together and form a local chapter of Compassionate Friends. “Knowing the kind of children they were and their loving, giving personalities, I know this is what they would want, and their families may not yet be ready to attend, but in time they may be.” What’s more, Faircloth had just reached the three year requirement, and she immediately began organizing. Faircloth said the steering committee is comprised of a diverse group of people. They are represented by parents who have lost a child to suicide, to accidents and illnesses; but as yet do not have anyone who has lost a child to a homicide.

The local chapter, The Compassionate Friends of Southwest Georgia, was chartered on August 30, 2013. Faircloth and Carla Robinson are co-chapter leaders of the steering committee. The first meeting will be held Thursday, Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Faircloth’s business, Interior Specialist, 1314 Dothan Road, Bainbridge. Regular meetings will be held the second Thursday of each month thereafter, and are open to family members who have experienced the death of a child.

Faircloth said the meetings will be laid back and casual and will occasionally have social events where members do things together.

For more information, contact June Faircloth at 229-246-4670 or write jfis4670@bellsouth.net.

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