Growing Through Grief: Overview

Contact us

Nicole Barnes,
Program Manager

Growing Through Grief is a school support program that helps children and teens overcome the pain and heartache of losing a loved one. Having a safe place to express grief and not feel alone is key to learning healthy ways of coping with grief.

Growing Through Grief encourages healing through peer support groups and a variety of activities. The program is designed for students (kindergarten through high school) and school staff who are grieving the loss, or preparing for the death, of a loved one.

Growing Through Grief counselors, in conjunction with school staff, provide students with:

  • Crisis response and community education
  • Short-term individual counseling
  • Weekly peer grief support groups

Katy’s story

When Katy died at age 29, her family wanted to establish a living memorial in honor of what was important to her – helping children deal with grief. Katy’ love of children, combined with the grief she felt after her father died when she was 19, were the inspiration. First established in 1997, Growing Through Grief now serves 12 school districts in the Twin Cities. As Growing Through Grief continues to expand and touch lives, Katy’s memory lives on.

Feedback from kids and families

  • “Grief is like drums playing in your head. It’s loud. It’s confusing and it gives you a headache.”
    – Alyssa, age 7
  • “We are forever grateful … the grief group has been supportive in many facets of our daughter’s life. She’s now better equipped to face life and all of its challenges.”
    – Parent of a support group member
  • “I have learned grief is normal and natural, and that everyone grieves differently. This group has been extremely helpful to me.”
    – Matt, age 13
  • “Group is the one hour a week I can dedicate to my mom. If I missed group, I would feel like I missed time with my mom.”
    – Sarah, age 16

Hope Heals journalHope Heals Journal

To support the grieving and healing process, Hope Heals: A Journal of Love, Loss and Memories provides a keepsake and a coping tool to discover strength in the midst of pain. Created by Growing Through Grief counselors Sara Kroenke and Daena Esterbrooks, the journal is based on group and individual sessions. This journal provides an opportunity for teens and adults to write about a loved one’s life and their death. The writer can journal their memories, feelings, pains and hopes. Order a copy.

Make a gift

Support groups and program activities are provided at no cost to students and schools. Growing Through Grief is supported by Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital Hospice, Park Nicollet Foundation and the generosity of numerous individuals and families. You can support grieving children by contributing to the Growing Through Grief fund.

Check out Growing Through Grief's 2017 Community Impact Report.