Attending The National TCF Conference is a Giant Hug

Schedule, Registration, Key Note Speakers, Entertainment and Workshop information

It hard to explain just how special the The Compassionate Friends Annual National Conference is.  What makes it So Hard To Explain is that words can’t adequately, can’t possibly convey all of the emotion, the fellowship, the shared hugs, the relationships made.  For three days, it is like being wrapped up in a Cocoon of Caring.  We proudly wear our child, our sibling, our grandchild’s name on our name badges.  We get to Talk About Them….To Share their Life Stories, as well as their Death Stories.  Others WANT TO HEAR about them; and feel honored when we share our stories, instead of running from them.

The first night of the very first conference that Jim and I attended, 18 months after Robyn’s death, I met a dad in the Facebook Friends Sharing Session.  He said how he, his wife and their surviving child attend the Conference every year because it is as if their were all a family, intact, vacationing together.  He described it as the one place that their deceased daughter could still travel with them, where they are all together.

That resonated with me and I realized that I needed a place where Robyn would still be accepted; where I could feel her and talk about her, and even talk to her.  Most of all, I wanted a place to take Robbie where she would be Welcomed.

The Compassionate Friends National Conference welcomes all bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings.

There are 114 workshops, 6 keynote speakers, local entertainment and day trips, sharing sessions, hospitality rooms, memory boards, a book store, a boutique, optional banquets and, of course, The Walk To Remember- a two mile walk with upwards of 1,500 bereaved individuals carrying the names of over 15,000 of our loved ones gone too soon.

Anytime anyone is feeling emotionally overwhelmed or just needs to “get way” for a while, there is a Reflection Room, to soothe the spirit and just “be quiet” within your memories.

Chapter- Walk To Remember

The only “negative” I have experienced having to leave The Conference and reenter the civilian world.  For several days exchanging hugs is the norm.  For several days, no one looks at you uncomfortably when your deceased child’s name is spoken.  For several days you are totally surrounded by those who “get it”, who offer constant support, caring and understanding.  You’ve been surrounded by love and compassion and leaving that is Hard.

Truly, attending The Conference is a financial hardship for Jim and I.  (Though Boston is going to be much easier than the Conferences in California and Minnesota the past couple of years)  but it is worth every cent.  Being a part of The Conference has provided a Foundation for helping me To Continue….to continue living.  I have met people who have a very direct relationship in preparing me to, once again, become an intentional survivor, instead of a collateral victim of my daughter’s death.

I don’t believe that there is anything such thing as it being TOO SOON to attend The Conference after a death; just as I don’t believe that TOO MANY YEARS could pass where attending could be of great value.

What I do believe is that attending The Compassionate Friends National Conference is one of the most important things that you can do for yourself in your grief and in your mourning.  Among all of the hugs that you will receive from others, it is a hug that you can give yourself.

On June 1, the lower fee registration ends.

Register NOW.

The Format and Experience of a TCF National Conference

Link To The Compassionate Friend National Website 
Conference Information 

Registration Now Open for 2013 TCF National Conference!

Keynote Speakers Named for 2013 TCF National Conference

2013 Boston National Conference Butterfly Boutique Needs Your Support

Help Make TCF’s Conference Even Better by Participating in a
$19,000 Matching Grant

2012 International Conference Brings Compassionate Families Together!

Registration is now open for anyone wishing to attend TCF’s 35th National/5th International Gathering to be held July 20-22 in Costa Mesa, California. Registration opened almost two months earlier than normal this year due to the International aspects of the event.

Whispers of Love Workshop 2011 TCF National Conference

“We are expecting bereaved families to attend from many of the more than 30 countries where TCF has a national presence,” says Patricia Loder, Executive Director of The Compassionate Friends/USA. “We welcome to this conference all who are grieving the death of a child, for grief is a universal language and one that TCF’ers around the world know all too well.”

Caring and Compassion

About 1500 are expected to register for the event and reservations for rooms at the host hotel, the Hilton Orange County Costa Mesa Hotel, have been heavier than expected, already leading to the arrangement for overflow accommodations at The Hanford Hotel  across the street (see for latest information)

This year’s conference features four wonderful keynote speakers are :

  • The Reverend Canon Simon Stephens, founder of The Compassionate Friends worldwide and bereaved sibling, who will travel from his home in Moscow to share his thoughts with the large International and U.S. crowd that is expected to gather.
  • Lois Duncan, the prolific and award winning author of 48 books. But, the most difficult one she ever had to write was Who Killed My Daughter?, the story behind her search for the truth in the death of her 18-year-old daughter Kaitlyn Arquette in what police called a random drive by shooting.
  • Kathy Eldon, journalist, author, producer, activist, and mother who found her life changed forever when her 22-year-old son, Dan Eldon, A Reuters photographer, was stoned to death by an angry mob as he did his job in Somalia in July of 1993. Among her books are Angel Catcher: A Journal of Loss and Remembrance and The Journey is the Destination.
  • Darcie Sims, always popular international keynote speaker, who brings her wit and wisdom as a bereaved parent and certified grief management specialist to the podium in Costa Mesa. Co-founder of Grief, Inc., an international grief consulting firm, Darcie is a well known and respected author and speaker. She wrote the grief book,  Why are the Casseroles Always Tuna?

TCF conferences are known for their great entertainment and this year will be no different. Featured will be California entertainers including the Love in Motion Signing Choir; TCF favorite Alan Pedersen; Cassidy Mueller and Chris Donohue, local favorites.

Love in Motion Choir
  • There will be over 100 workshops for bereaved parents and also a full track of workshops for bereaved siblings.
  • A host of sharing sessions on various grief related topics will be held Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights
  • Meet & Greets Thursday, July 19 for: Siblings; Grandparents; Online Support Community; TCF/USA Facebook members; and Regional Coordinators Meet & Greet with Chapter Leaders.
  • The International Gathering will include a Spanish workshop and sharing session Thursday, July 19, 2012 for our Hispanic/Latino families and bilingual families
  • Friday ~”An Evening with Darcie Sims” where her topic will be: Finding Your Way Through Grief: Does Grief Come in “One Size Fits All?”
  • Sibling trip Friday to Dave and Buster’s
  • Sunday morning hosts The National WALK TO REMEMBER ~
    The Compassionate Friends Walk to Remember® is a highlight of every TCF National Conference. It was created as a symbolic way to show the love we carry for the children we mourn. Held at 8 a.m. Sunday on the final day of the national conference it starts at the host hotel of the conference.  There is an air of anticipation and excitement as everyone gathers in preparation for the start of the Walk. Finally the Walk begins and, hand-in-hand everyone walks, meditating on a much different time in their lives. Since its inception in 2000, the Walk to Remember has taken on many distinctive facets. There is the main Walk to Remember where those attending the conference join with local bereaved families and others who fly in from across the country just for the Walk.  As many as 1400 have participated. Some go the full distance while others only walk a short way knowing that in participating, they are remembering. Special Walk to Remember T-shirts are given to all who register, as well as walk bibs where the names of the children being remembered can be written.
  • Combine your California visit with a time of relaxation and meditation with a pre-conference excursion on Thursday, July 19 to the Huntington Library, art collection and botanical gardens, plus Monday, post-conference transportation to Disneyland (special discounted tickets available to purchase online direct from Disneyland).
  • And at the Conference -Don’t miss the Meditation Room; Fully stocked Bookstore; the Butterfly Boutique; Hospitality Suites; and the silent auction/raffle.

TCF has also arranged with American Airlines to provide those attending the conference a 5% discount available on all American Airlines, American Eagle, and American Connection. The valid travel dates for the discount are July 14-27, 2012. To take advantage of this discount, go to to book your flight and use the Promotional Code 2372DJ and your discount will be automatically calculated. Flights eligible include any arriving at John Wayne Santa Anna Airport (SNA), LAX, and Ontario (ONT) Airports.

For more information on the conference including online registration - News and Events TCF 2012 National Conference and 5th International Gathering or call 877-969-0010.♥


Mitch Carmody, 2011 Key Note Presenter

Angel Moms Care
Jim Darby, Wayne Loder, Bettie-Jeanne, Pat Loder
Preparing To Walk - TCF Walk To Remember 2011