Welcome to the Fort Bragg, California, Chapter of

The Compassionate Friends

The Compassionate Friends is a self-help organization offering friendship and understanding to bereaved parents.  The purposes are to support and aid parents in the positive resolution of the grief experience upon the death of their child, and to foster the physical and emotional health of bereaved  parents, grandparents and siblings.

Our Credo...

We need not walk alone. We are The Compassionate Friends. We reach out to each other with love, with understanding, and with hope. Our children have died at all ages and from many different causes, but our love for our children unites us. Your pain becomes my pain just as your hope becomes my hope. We come together from all walks of life, from many different circumstances. We are a unique family because we represent many races and creeds. We are young, and we are old. Some of us are far along in our grief, but others still feel a grief so fresh and so intensely painful that we feel helpless and see no hope. Some of us have found our faith to be a source of strength; some of us are struggling to find answers. Some of us are angry, filled with guilt or in deep depression; others radiate an inner peace. But whatever pain we bring to this gathering of The Compassionate Friends, it is pain we will share just as we share with each other our love for our children. We are all seeking and struggling to build a future for ourselves, but we are committed to building that future together as we reach out to each other in love and share the pain as well as the joy, share the anger as well as the peace, share the faith as well as the doubts and help each other to grieve as well as to grow.

Messages of Comfort

When God sends forth a tiny soul
To learn the ways of earth,
A mother's love is waiting here --
We call this wonder -- birth.

When God calls home a tired soul
And stills a fleeting breath,
A Father's love is waiting there,
This too is birth -- not death.

-- Author Unknown

"Though life is not as it was before,
And never will be again,
Our memories are much richer,
Than if love had never been."
-- Author Unknown

"There Is No Word"
They call a man a widower,
When he has lost his wife.
The woman is a widow,
When her man does lose his life.
And orphan is the word,
Perhaps for most of us one day.
For it is normal - losing,
Mom & Dad along the way.
But you can look both high and low,
And then look far and wide,
And never find a word for one,
Who's had a child who died.
--Ken Falk, TCF Northwestern CT
To All Parents
"I'll lend you for a little time a child of Mine," He said.
"For you to love him while he lives, and mourn for when I come to claim him.
It may be six or eight years or twenty-two or three.
But will you, till I call him back, take care of him for me?
He'll bring his charms to gladden you, and should his stay be brief,
You'll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief.
I cannot promise he will stay, since all from Earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there I want this child to learn.
I've looked this wide world over in my search for teachers true,
And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes, I have selected you.
Now will you give him all your love, nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate Me, when I come to call to take him back again?"
I fancied that I heard them say, "Dear Lord, Thy will be done.
For all the joy Thy child shall bring, the risk of grief we'll run.
We'll shelter him with tenderness, we'll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we've known, forever grateful stay.
But should the angels call for him, sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand."
by Edgar Guest

Chapter Information

Meeting Time: 7:00 P.M. on the first Wednesday of the month.

Meeting Place: Meeting Place is changing, Fort Bragg, CA 95437

Facilitators: Cynthia Wall, LCSW and bereaved parents Gayle and Jesse Heckenlaible.


Our Children Loved and Remembered


Journey Through Grief

Why should I, who never did neglect my grief,
Who began this journey so resolutely,
Determined to accept each step and see it through,
Find myself beginning on this path again
As if from the very start of it?

Did I not face this tragedy straight on,
And look death in the face and feel its touch?
Do I not understand that each soul, soon or late,
Returns to God? Why then, in a sudden unexpected moment
Does the shock of this death confront me,
As if I had never known of it at all?

Why do I, who was recipient of such love,
Of caring and compassion that abound -
Who was encompassed in the arms of family and friends,
And know that my loss is shared by many,
Feel such an individual grief?

And why do I, who let my tears flow free,
Who felt them wash upon my heart, my mind, my soul,
Who has screamed the scream of primal desperation,
And, through blurred eyes, has set my gaze upon the present,
Find that in some unsuspected moment,
Tears rage and gush, as if I'd never cried?

Because I am the mother of a child who died!

by Vivian Dean, in Memory of James Bruce Dean.

Favorite Links

National Organization Compassionate Friends

Compassionate Friends of Atlanta, Georgia
CSRA Compassionate Friends Augusta, Georgia
James Dean's Memorial Home Page


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