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Self-help group focuses on resolving grief

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Oct. 11, 2002
The Compassionate Friends are coming together again.
Linda and Jim Hollis of Meridian organized the group for bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents in 1984. After 10 years, the group disbanded.
The Hollises said they decided to reorganize because of phone calls from bereaved people.
There are chapters in Jackson and Hattiesburg, but the Hollises want to re-establish a group for people in East Mississippi and West Alabama.
Patricia Parnell of Meridian, coordinator of the local Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Group, is a charter member of the re-established group.
The Hollises said meetings give people a chance to cope with the loss of a child, no matter what age, by connecting with others who have also lost children.
The Hollises founded the previous local chapter after their daughter, Sarah, was killed in an automobile accident 1983. She was 18.
She said everyone responds to loss differently, and stressed that The Compassionate Friends is not a therapy group. She also said chapters are not affiliated with any religions organization and rely on private donations. No dues are required.
Programs with speakers will be offered occasionally, and there are plans to start a newsletter.
The Compassionate Friends was founded in England in 1969. The first U.S. chapter was organized in 1972 in Miami. There are now more than 400 chapters in the United States. In 1978, The Compassionate Friends was incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation.