The Compassionate Friends Principles


1. The Compassionate Friends offers friendship, understanding, and hope to bereaved parents, siblings, and grandparents.

We have learned through our own experiences that the death of a child, sibling, or grandchild causes a pain that is often best understood by others who have also experienced such a loss.

We focus on supporting parents, siblings, and grandparents in their journeys through the natural process of grief.

We define the terms "parent," "sibling", and "grandparent" broadly, welcoming the bereaved from all family units. 

2. The Compassionate Friends believes that bereaved parents, siblings, and grandparents can help each other toward a positive resolution of grief.

We understand that each bereaved person travels a unique path through grief.

We know that for some expressing thoughts and feelings are integral to the healing process, and we provide a safe, supportive environment for such expression.

We are a self-help organization and thus do not offer professional psychotherapy or counseling.

We respect the professional community and welcome its support. However, as a self-help organization, we do not rely on professionals for supervision or formal guidance.

3. The Compassionate Friends reaches out across society's barriers to all bereaved parents, siblings, and grandparents.

We respect everyone's beliefs and espouse no specific religious or philosophical ideology.

We welcome parents, siblings, and grandparents of all ages grieving the loss of a child, sibling, or grandchild of any age, and from any cause.

We do not take sides on political issues or endorse political candidates.

We treat each other with care and respect, showing consideration for those with whom we may disagree.

4. The Compassionate Friends understands that every member has individual needs and rights.

We never suggest that there is a "correct" way for a parent, sibling, or grandparent to grieve.

Everyone joining a local meeting deserves the opportunity to share thoughts and feelings. However, no one is compelled to do so.

All participants at a The Compassionate Friends gathering have the responsibility to listen.

5. The Compassionate Friends reaches out to the bereaved primarily through our community of local Chapters and secondarily by website, social media, and conferences.

The Compassionate Friends local Chapters continue to be the heart of The Compassionate Friends. We support regularly scheduled Chapter meetings as the foundation of our service.

Chapter meetings are, above all, safe places where thoughts and feelings can be freely expressed, and where all participants can find care and friendship.

The Compassionate Friends's secondary programs, website, social media, and conferences, create a safe and caring environment that provides comfort and support for all members.

Chapters are self-managing, and operate within the principles, policies, and practices of The Compassionate Friends.
We honor those who lead our Chapters as integral to The Compassionate Friends's mission, and work to support them in their outreach. 

6. The Compassionate Friends chapters belong to their members.

We do not charge individual dues or fees for participation in local Chapter meetings.

We treat what is said in Chapter meetings as confidential information.

We reserve the most intimate segment of Chapter meetings ---- the sharing session ---- for those who are bereaved parents, siblings, and grandparents.

We believe that the regularly scheduled Chapter meeting should focus on sharing, healing, and hope. We recommend that issues of Chapter management be addressed outside these meetings. 

7. The Compassionate Friends is coordinated nationally in its support to its Chapters, bereaved parents, siblings, and grandparents.

The Compassionate Friends's national operations are guided through its by-laws, policies, and procedures, and overseen by a volunteer board whose members are elected by its Chapter and Regional Coordinators.

The Compassionate Friends's national organization exists, first and foremost, to serve Chapters and to coordinate outreach in ways that extend The Compassionate Friends's collective ability to reach those who seek support.

The national organization promotes the mission of The Compassionate Friends, manages our relationship with The Compassionate Friends affiliates in other countries, and ensures the integrity of our operations and adherence to our by-laws, principles, and policies.

As members of The Compassionate Friends, we acknowledge our responsibility to support our local and national goals by contributing, as best we can, our time, talent, and resources.

© 2014


1. The Compassionate Friends recognizes that siblings are an integral part of the family unit.

Their recovery is critical to the health of the total unit; and, therefore, The Compassionate Friends is committed to the involvement of siblings.

2. The Compassionate Friends offers friendship and understanding to bereaved siblings.

We are learning that the death of our brother or sister causes pain that other bereaved siblings understand best. Knowing that everybody needs love and support, we reach out to those who still feel alone and abandoned.

Attendance at meetings by those other than bereaved siblings is allowed only with prior consent of all group members.

3. The Compassionate Friends believes bereaved siblings can help each other toward a positive resolution of their grief.

We offer support as each bereaved sibling finds his or her own way through grief.

We know that expressing thoughts and feelings is part of the healing process. We offer an opportunity for sharing with, and learning from other bereaved siblings.

Everyone deserves an opportunity to share; however no one is compelled to speak. We have the responsibility to listen.

4. The Compassionate Friends reaches out to all bereaved siblings regardless of religion, race, economic class, or ethnic group.

We express our inpidual views with respect and consideration for those who may disagree with us.

5. The Compassionate Friends understands that all sibling members have inpidual needs and rights.

We recognize that there is more than one way to grieve and that bereaved siblings and bereaved parents may grieve in different ways and on differing timelines.

We know that these differing grief styles can cause additional stress and conflict in an already disabled family.

We remain nonjudgmental about inpidual needs and grief styles. We understand the emotional and spiritual dilemmas raised by the death of a sibling.

6. The Compassionate Friends recognizes that the term "bereaved sibling" encompasses all age groups.

We understand that the death of a brother or sister affects not only children but adult siblings as well.

We show sensitivity to all siblings regardless of age.

Adopted 1991