The Compassionate Friends is a support group for those who’ve lost children and loved ones, and now its healing light in coming to Oro Valley. The newest chapter of the group was formed by local resident Susan Gorman.
Although Gorman has suffered cancer multiple times and lost her husband, her greatest loss by far was the death of her daughter.
“I’ve had a number of difficulties throughout my life,” Gorman said. “But nothing holds a candle to losing my daughter.”
When Gorman’s 26-year-old daughter passed away three years ago, she found the Compassionate Friends support group in Tucson. TCF’s monthly meetings offer opportunities to share experiences and open up and, in a way, continue their child’s story.
Meetings generally start with participants together in a large group, discussing their loved ones and taking note of where they’re at in their lives. The meeting then breaks down into smaller groups for a closer discussion.
“One person might be there on the anniversary of their child’s death,” Gorman said. “And another person may have lost a child only three weeks ago.”
The meeting always ends on a positive note, however. Participants are encouraged to discuss something positive that they gained from the meeting or that’s happening in their life.
Gorman wanted a closer TCF group in Oro Valley, and figured starting one herself would be a great way to remember her daughter and help others.
“I decided to do it in honor of my daughter,” Gorman said. “I figured this would be something good to come out of losing her.”
The Oro Valley TCF averages about a dozen participants per meeting, but is steadily growing. They meet at 11 a.m. on the first Saturday of every month at Resurrection Lutheran Church at 11575 N. First Ave. in Oro Valley. It is a non-denominational group.
“Society doesn’t like to discuss it, it’s kind of forbidden to talk about,” Gorman said. “But there is a need that this fills, it’s keeping their children alive.”
The Oro Valley TCF needs help with operating expenses, however. Specifically for a dedicated phone line and food and drinks for the meetings. Currently, it is run entirely by Gorman herself. Tax deductible donations can be made to: TCF - Oro Valley, 11923 N. Centaurus Place, Oro Valley.
Overall, TCF has almost 700 chapters serving all 50 states, and more than 30 countries. Since 1969, it has helped people deal with the loss of loved ones via in-person meetings, support hotlines and even private Facebook groups. There are also TCF chapters in Tucson and Sierra Vista.
“It’s a very important thing for people to have,” Gorman said. “They’ve helped me as much as I’ve helped them.”