Dear Compassionate Friends,
As many of you know, The Compassionate Friends’ 2021 National Conference was scheduled to be held in Detroit, Michigan this July. We have been actively watching national developments and considering the many issues that are involved for determining how to proceed. As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to have strict restrictions for large gatherings, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person conference in Detroit.
We recognize how disappointing this may be to many people in our TCF family as it is to all of us on our staff and board of directors. A lot of thought and consideration was given to this decision, and a number of factors were evaluated before making a final determination.
The most important consideration was whether we could ensure the safety of our members with the continuing risks and uncertainty of travel and large group gatherings. In addition to concerns for our members’ safety, some of the key factors that prohibit TCF from proceeding responsibly are:
- Liabilities and limitations with the hotel contract, which pre-dated this unprecedented time of a pandemic
- Limits in Detroit on the number of people who can gather in one place
- Inability to hold any of our traditional large gatherings that are cornerstones of TCF conferences such as keynote speaker addresses, candle lighting program, large workshops, banquets, and gathering places for members
- Inability to have enough rooms for workshops or sharing sessions when capacity in each is substantially reduced and require people to stay 6 feet apart
- Limitations on food provided within the hotel and no options for banquet gatherings that bring us together for desired community
For those who look to our national conference each year for the important community and connection it provides, a gathering in person this year could not resemble what we have known and hold dear.
Though we cannot gather in person for the conference this year, please mark your calendars for July 16 – 18, 2021, for The Compassionate Friends Virtual National Conference.
When we were required to cancel last year’s national conference for the first time in 43 years, it was very hard on all of us as the national conference is such an integral and valuable part of TCF. We quickly created a virtual conference in a short amount of time because it was so important that we still be able to come together as a TCF community. With the support of many TCF volunteers working alongside TCF staff and the TCF board of directors. we did learn how to come together differently. Over 1,000 people who needed support attended last year and had an opportunity for connection. Taking all that we learned, we will build on that experience to ensure we can reach and support those who need TCF during this time.
More details will be announced soon about plans for the virtual conference. The Detroit Marriott hotel had not released our block of rooms for July, but if you made any previous arrangements, you can cancel those directly with them at this time.
We share your disappointment that more time will be needed before we can come together in person again. Please reach out with any questions you may have and know that we look forward to meeting in person as soon as it is safe and possible.
We will continue to walk this path together, so that We Need Not Walk Alone.
Board President on behalf of the Board of Directors
Roy and Taylor's Dad
Shari O'Loughlin, MBA, CPC
CEO, The Compassionate Friends
Connor's Mom and Patti's Sister