Support Groups

NEW GROUPS IN 2022: CROYDON / BOX HILL / HAWTHORN EAST (Times & Locations in Social Groups section)

Please read the groups policy, re. COVID-19

Questions about TCFV Support Groups & Social Support Groups

Below are answers to questions we often get asked about our group meetings.  If there is something else you want to know please contact The Compassionate Friends Victoria office on (03) 9888 4944.  Outside Melbourne metro Free Call 1300 064 068.

Who Can Attend?

Meetings are for individuals 18 years of age and over, who have experienced the death of a child, sibling, and/or grandchild, at any age, from any cause.

We find meetings are predominantly attended by bereaved parents. Siblings and grandparents are very welcome, too. If siblings are looking at sibling-specific support, please refer here.

Please keep in mind, you need to be a member of TCFV to attend any group. Your first year of membership is complimentary (to establish a membership, please call 9888 4944 / 1300 064 068); for more information on membership, please see below “Is there a charge to attend?”

Re. COVID-19, can I attend a meeting if I am a Household Contact?

If you are a household contact, but do not have symptoms – and you are continuing to test negative over the course of five RATs within the 7-day contact period – you can attend a meeting wearing a mask. We thank you for your help in ensuring community health.

Please do not attend a meeting if you are unwell.

I'm new to meetings. Should I call TCFV and speak with the group leader prior to attending?

We highly recommend you speak with the group leader prior to your first group meeting. Call TCFV on 1300 064 068 and we can help arrange a chat. Speaking with the leader is a valuable introduction to the group and what it can offer you in your grief journey.

Which meetings do you need to register to attend?

As a TCFV member, with most meeting groups you are not required to register to attend a given meeting..

A few meetings do require this, due to space limitations or leaders needing to travel long distances to facilitate a meeting.

These groups are:

Canterbury Evening Group: please contact 9888 4944 to register your attendance.

Hawthorn East Social Group: please contact 9888 4944 to register your attending at a dinner meeting (or contact the leader directly if you are a regular group member).

Box Hill Social Group: please contact 9888 4944 to register your attendance at a dinner meeting (or contact the leader directly if you are a regular group member).

Walking Through Grief: please register to attend an upcoming walk via the Events page.

Express Yourself Through Art at TCFV CENTRE: please register for an upcoming session via the Events page.

Online Support for Regional Suicide-Bereaved: please register for an upcoming meeting via the Events page.

Online Express Yourself Through Art: please register for an upcoming session via the Events page.

If I go to a meeting, will I have to talk?

No one is required to talk at any meeting. We understand how difficult that can be when our grief is so fresh. We do ask that you listen, however, and we don’t interrupt while another member is sharing their story.

Is there a charge to attend?

The cost of attending a group is included in our TCFV membership. (If you need to establish a TCFV membership, please call us on 9888 4944 / 1300 064 068.) You can attend as many groups as you like, in any location as part of joining our organisation. New members receive a 12-month complementary membership, after this it is $55 per year (less than $5 a month), which also gives you access to all of our other services.

What happens at a meeting?

Most groups start with an informal time for welcoming people and having a cup of tea or coffee. The formal part of the meeting then begins with the facilitator speaking and perhaps reading a piece of poetry or a short story, after which time we introduce ourselves in turn and share our thoughts and feelings. At this time, you may share as much or as little as you need. General discussion then follows and groups usually end with another cuppa for those members who wish to stay.

How is a social support group meeting different to a support group meeting?

Social meetings are typically held at a café. They have a more relaxed structure, with discussion of grief and bereavement interspersed with more general social discussion. Social meetings may resonate more with individuals a few more years down the track in their grief, who feel they’re not needing to explore their grief in detail. Newly bereaved people do also report benefits from social groups, too, particularly if they’re seeking peer support in a less formal setting and structure. 

My loved one died several years ago, and I postponed my grief work. Now it's catching up with me. Is it too late to come now?

We all grieve differently. Many people don’t feel the need of a support group until years after the death of a loved one. It’s all right to come whenever you are ready, whether it’s soon after your loved one’s death, months later or years later.

Can I bring a friend with me?

If you need a friend to drive you to the group, or you need their reassurance, they are welcome to attend. It is important for us to be able to share freely within our group and be sure confidences will be respected. Your friend would need to accept this confidentiality.

I notice the meeting is in a church. Do I have to belong to a church to attend?

TCFV has no religious affiliation. Meetings are held in a wide variety of locations depending upon what is available in our communities.

I have baby-sitting problems. Would it be all right to bring my child with me?

While we understand the difficulties of finding child care, we must ask that out of respect for the needs of others, you do not bring children (under 18 years of age) to meetings.  At this time, we do not provide any services for bereaved parents or siblings below 18 years of age, but we can refer you to other agencies where these services are available.

Is a peer support group the same as therapy?

A support group helps reduce the sense of isolation bereaved people commonly feel. It also helps normalise thoughts and feelings that can be distressing or depressing for us. Like therapy, a support group invites us to reflect on experiences.

It is different to therapy, too. The facilitators have the lived experience of bereavement, but are not necessarily mental health professionals. A group is not an in-depth one-on-one session, although a grief-related topic can be explored in-depth collectively.

Will attending a group meeting be “too much” emotionally?

It can be helpful to be in the presence of someone else’s emotions. Finding you have similar feelings and experiences to others can be an extremely positive experience.

Be mindful that when you’re feeling especially fragile, you might not be in the place to securely experience another person’s sadness, regret, guilt, frustration, and so on. Be aware of how you’re feeling in response to others. It may not be the right rime for you to attend groups regularly. Alternately, you may realise through your response, you are having a difficult day.

I am new in my grief. Through attending group meetings, will I find hope again?

Seeing others further down the track who have managed to find meaningful connections again with the world around them can provide hope. Seeing that they’ve achieve this, while still keeping their child, sibling or grandchild’s legacy vibrant in their life, is similarly inspiring. Also, hearing about how people have coped in difficult times can be helpful. (Just keep in mind that strategies that have worked for some people will not necessarily resonate or work for us.)

For new people in the group, or newer in their grief, you may find you look to longer-term bereaved members for evidence things will change. For the majority of us, it definitely does – the intensity and repetitiveness of thoughts and feelings, for instance, diminishes. We can still have bad days, though, and can seek out a group meeting in turn. For newer people, this may inadvertently leave the impression that nothing changes. Thankfully, for the clear majority, it does.

Can I ask the group to give me advice on how to cope?

You can, but it is essential to keep in mind: no one size (in coping with grief) fits all. Despite the power of our shared experience of grief, we of course all come with our individual needs and experiences. You can ask people what has helped them and what hasn’t in coping with grief, honouring lost loved ones, and so on. Hearing other people’s outlook and approach to grief can help “fine tune” your own. But remember, no one size fits all. If you are seeking medical, psychotherapeutic or health advice, we stress that you seek the guidance of relevant professionals.

It is important to me to be able to speak openly and in detail about how my loved one died. Is this okay in a support group?

It is important to feel free to speak openly about all aspects of our grief. Sometimes, if this includes graphic descriptions surrounding how our loved one/s died, this can be too much for the group to hear, and might instead be more appropriately addressed in a one-on-one discussion with a group leader or with a psychotherapist, allied health professional, and so on.

Bereaved by Suicide (Canterbury)

When: 4th Monday of each month (excluding December*)
Time: 7:30 pm
Venue: The Compassionate Friends Victoria 229 Canterbury Rd, Canterbury VIC 3126

Bereaved by Suicide (Sunshine)

When: 1st Tuesday of each month excl January
Time: 7:00 pm
Venue: Salvation Army Drop-In Centre 42 Devonshire Road, Sunshine VIC 3020

“Express Yourself Through Art”

(We offer this service online and onsite. For details of upcoming classes, click here.)

Canterbury Book Club

When: 1st Tuesday of each month excl January
Time: 6.30pm-8pm
Venue: TCFV Centre, 229 Canterbury Road, Canterbury
(This group requires online registration. Please register to attend via this page.)

MenSpace

Bereaved Support Group for Men
When: 3rd Wednesday of the month, excluding January
Time: 7:00 pm—9:00 pm For more information, click here.
Venue: The Compassionate Friends Victoria 229 Canterbury Road, Canterbury VIC 3126

Online Support Group – Bereaved of a Child 14 Years & Under Through Accident

When: 2nd Tuesday of the month
Time 7:30 pm
For more information and to register, please contact: alex@kidsafevic.com.au

Walking Group

Light exercise & walk on safe Canterbury trails.
When: 1st Friday of the month (Feb-Dec)
Time: 11am sharp Finishes: 12 noon
Location: We meet at TCFV Centre, 229 Canterbury Road, Canterbury

Please note that you will need to register for a walk. Registration pages can be found by following this link.

Online Support Group for Regional Victorians Bereaved Through Suicide

When: 3rd Thursday bimonthly (Feburary, April, June, August, October, December)
Time 7:30 pm
For more information and to register, please click here.

Siblings-specific Support Group

When: 3rd Tuesday of the month
Time: 7.45pm
Venue: The Compassionate Friends Victoria, 229 Canterbury Road, Canterbury VIC 3126

Other siblings-specific services here.

Canterbury Support Groups

Daytime Group
When: 4th Wednesday of each month (3rd Wednesday in December)
Time: 11:00 am.

Evening Group
When: 2nd Tuesday of each month excl. January Time: 7:45 pm
Venue: The Compassionate Friends Victoria 229 Canterbury Rd, Canterbury VIC 3126
Please note: bookings are essential for the Canterbury Evening Group. Please RSVP your attendance at an upcoming meeting via 9888 4944.

Bayside Support Group

When: 4th Wednesday each month excl. December
Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Venue: Highett Neighbourhood Community House 2 Livingston Street, Highett

Eltham Support Group

When: 11am, 1st Thursday of the month (excluding January)
Venue: Eltham Library Community Room, Panther Place, Eltham

Rowville Support Group

When: 1st Friday of each month excl. January
Time: 1:00 pm
Venue: Bridgewater Centre Cnr Fullham & Bridgewater Roads, Rowville VIC 3178

Sunshine Support Group

When: 3rd Tuesday of each month
Time: 7:30 pm
Venue: Salvation Army Drop-In Centre 42 Devonshire Road, Sunshine VIC 3020

Bendigo

When: 4th Tuesday of each month, excluding January
Time: 1:30pm
Venue: The Gianna Centre, 18-20 Edwards Road, Kennington

Castlemaine

Please contact us on 1300 064 068 for more details.

Geelong

When: Last Tuesday of each month
Time: 7:30 pm
Venue: Noble Street Uniting Church 26-42 Saffron Street, Newtown VIC 3220
(Note: the December meeting is held earlier in the month as a social dinner get-together. Please contact 1300 064 048 for further details, or contact the leader directly.)

Horsham – Wimmera

Meetings held quarterly (Mar, Jun, Sep, Dec) For more information please contact us.

Mildura

When: 2nd Saturday of each month excl. January
Time: 11am
Venue: MADEC Community College 133-137 Madden Avenue, Mildura VIC 3500

Portland

When: 3rd Tuesday of each month, excluding January
(Please note: our August 2022 meeting will run on the 4th Tuesday of the month, 23/8)
Time: 7:00 pm
Venue: Star Theatre 40 Julia Street, Portland VIC 3305

Warragul

When: Last Wednesday of the month (January – November)
Time: 7:30 pm
Venue: Warragul Community House, 138 Normanby Street, Warragul 3820

Hobart Support Group

When: 2nd Tuesday bi-monthly (Feb, Apr, Jun, Aug, Oct, Dec)
Time: 7:30 pm
Venue: McDougall Building, 9 Ellersie Road, Battery Point (off Hampden Road) TAS 7004

Please note: the Hobart Group also hold a social gathering in the alternating months of March, May, July, September & November. Please call 1300 064 068, or the leader directly, for further details.

Darwin Support Group

When: Last Wednesday monthly (exc. December)
Time: 7pm
Venue: MLA (Member for the Legislative Assembly) Office, Shop 15A, Oasis Shopping Centre, 15 Temple Terrace, Palmerston NT 0830
Contact the group leader (Ingrid): 1300 064 068 / darwin@tcfv.org.au

Box Hill Social Group

When: 2nd Thursday of the month (Jan-Nov)
Time: 7:00 pm
Venue: Box Hill RSL 26 Nelson Road, Box Hill VIC 3128
Please note: bookings are essential for a Box Hill Social Group meeting. Please register your attendance via 9888 4944.

Camperdown Social Group

When: 4th Monday bi-monthly (February, April, June, August, October, December – note: in lieu of Christmas, December meeting will be held a week or so earlier)
Time: 7pm
Venue: Madden’s Commercial Hotel, 115 Manifold Street, Camperdown VIC 3260

Croydon Social Group

When: 3rd Wednesday bi-monthly (February, April, June, August, October, December)
Time: 10.30am
Venue: The Rumour Mill, 22 McAdam Square, Croydon

Geelong Morning Tea Social Group

When: 2nd Tuesday of each month excl. January
Time: 10:30 am
Venue: Brioche Café 175 West Fyans Street, Newtown VIC 3220

Hawthorn East Social Dinner Group

When: 4th Tuesday of the month (Feb-Nov)
Time: 7pm
Venue: Cafe Paradiso (opposite Rivoli Cinemas), 213-215 Camberwell Road, Hawthorn East
Please note: bookings are essential for a Hawthorn East Social Dinner Group meeting. Please register your attendance via 9888 4944.

Southern Peninsula Lunchtime Social Group

When: 1st Tuesday of each month at 12 noon excl. January For more information please contact us.