Bereavement support groups, grief education and events

The death of a child is both heart-breaking and life-changing. Children’s Minnesota offers programs intended to give comfort and support to families during the first year and beyond. We also collaboratively work with Allina Health to serve parents and families grieving a perinatal/infant loss.  Grief education programs offer families and children the opportunity to learn, explore and gain some understanding about a variety grief topics.  Grief related events offer families the chance to participate in a gathering where their child and other children will be remembered.

Grief education programs, support groups, and grief events all offer reassurance that grief is a normal reaction to the deep and profound loss experienced when a child dies.  These programs provide an opportunity for emotional connection, during a time when many families describe feelings of isolation. Additionally, each setting is designed to be comfortable and safe, allowing a space where powerful emotions can be experienced and released.

Support groups

Joining a support group can be very helpful for a variety of reasons. Parents tell us that support groups:

  • Offer them a place to talk about their child in a safe setting
  • Connect with other bereaved parents to get and give support
  • Give reassurance that their grief is a normal reaction to their deep sense of loss
  • Allows children to see and hear from other children who may also be experiencing loss

Our recurring and annual events are listed below with a description that may help you determine which support group is best for you, or your family:

Grief and bereavement events

Click the icon (+) below to view upcoming dates, description and registration information.

The Living with Grief Youth Program is changing to a digital format beginning in August 2020. The virtual group will be held the third Thursday of each month. New participants are welcome.

The death of loved one is both heartbreaking and life-changing. The Children’s Minnesota Living with Grief Youth program is a safe space for children and teens who are grieving the death of a loved one—a sibling, parent, grandparent, friend, or any special person—to talk about their special person, and connect with others who have experienced a similar loss.

Each session focuses on a different grief topic. Children and teens will explore this topic through age-appropriate conversation, art, music, movement and creative interactions. Child life specialists and music therapists offer children and teens the opportunity to learn, explore and gain some understanding about a variety grief topics. Grief groups can be helpful to children and teens because it helps them see that they are not alone, that there are other kids just like them who are grieving.

Throughout the grief journey many parents find value in coming together with other grieving parents who can understand and appreciate the intense grief that comes when a child dies. Each session of this program will cover a pre-selected topic, while also having time for open discussion. Parents will have the option to talk about their child and their family’s story, as well as share feelings, thoughts and concerns. Parents are welcome to participate as they feel comfortable, however there is no pressure to talk — we understand the value of simply gathering together.

The Living with Grief Parent program serves grieving parents/guardians who have experienced the death of a baby or child during “childhood” (ages of preterm birth to approximately age 25).

This program is free of charge and open to any family in the greater community — families do not have to have been cared for in the Children’s Minnesota system to participate.
To meet the needs of the whole family, the Living with Grief Youth and Grandparent/Aunt/Uncle programs are held concurrently. Youth programming is available to children ages 18 months to senior year in high school.

The death of a child impacts an entire family. This special program is designed to recognize and support the unique grief experienced by grandparents and other close adult extended family members when a child dies.

Each session of this program will cover a pre-selected topic, with time for open discussion. Grandparents, aunts and uncles will have the option to share their family’s story, along with feelings, thoughts and concerns. Participants will receive support for their own loss, as well as ideas of how they can be present to the grief of their family members.

The Living with Grief Grandparent/Aunt/Uncle Program serves grieving grandparents and close adult extended family, who have experienced the death of a grandchild or family member who died in “childhood” (preterm birth to approximately age 25).

This program is free of charge and open to all grandparents and adult extended family in the greater community — families do not have to have been cared for at Children’s Minnesota to participate. New participants are welcome.

Grieving is painful for everyone, and the death of a baby creates a very special grief. Family and friends may be unable to give grieving parents the support they need. If your baby has died, there are people who understand these intense feelings of loss and emptiness: other parents who have lost a baby. The natural bond between bereaved parents enables them to support and encourage each other in a very unique way.

The Pregnancy and Infant Loss support group helps parents whose baby has died through ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth or newborn death (shortly following birth or during an NICU stay). The group is made up of parents, and is led by staff members from both Allina Health and Children’s Minnesota.

This support group is not therapy, rather it is a group of parents who find comfort and courage in walking this difficult path together. Some groups are lead by a facilitator and feature specific grief topics, while others are open-ended and focus on the current needs of the participants. Every group is a safe and confidential place to share feelings and coping strategies. The group is free of charge.

A virtual workshop for parents/guardians who are actively parenting, while also grieving the death of a special person in their life.

Join us for this workshop where parents/guardians will:

  • Explore your experience of parenting while grieving.
  • Understand how grief impacts your child/adolescent/young adult.
  • Support your child’s/adolescent’s/young adult’s grief and healing.
  • Develop strategies to support your own coping, self-care and well-being.

This virtual event has ended. Please check back for future dates or, contact bereavement services with questions or to register at 612-813-7216 or [email protected].

Join other families in a special Memory Bash — an opportunity to come together as a community and lovingly remember those we miss so much.

Participants will have the opportunity to select from a variety of art projects, musical interventions and other activities designed to keep the memories of their loved ones alive. The event is intended to promote healing and joy.

The Memory Bash is open to bereaved parents and families:

• Adult participants can come alone, or can invite extended family or close loved ones to join them — grandparents, aunts, uncles and others welcome.

• Children kindergarten-age and older are welcome. Children will stay with their adult companions throughout the event. The event will be adapted to all age levels. Free childcare is available for children ages 18 months to preschool ages. Families with babies younger than 18 months will need to arrange for private childcare.

All art materials and supplies will be provided. Attendees do not need to have experience or ability in the area of art of music to creatively participate. There is no fee to attend. Families are encouraged to bring copies of photos or other small symbols which represent their loved one with them. These items can be incorporated into art and memory-making projects. Families will take all art, music and other projects they create home with them.

 

Invitations with registration information will be mailed during the fall.

Annual events hosted by Children’s Minnesota

Children’s Minnesota Annual Memorial Service

We offer an annual event for families, dedicated to honoring the lives of children who have died within the Children’s Minnesota system.   This meaningful service is held once yearly in the spring.  The program typically includes readings, music, and remembrance of each child during a candle-lighting and slide-show ceremony.  The service ends with a butterfly release.  For more information, please contact Children’s Minnesota bereavement services at [email protected] or 612-813-7216.

How to find additional support groups or grief education resources in your area

Individuals may feel isolated in grief. There are many resources in the community that you can contact to find bereavement support near you, including:

Search online using the phases listed below plus the name of your community (for example “grief resources, Minneapolis”):

  • Grief support groups
  • Grief resources
  • Children’s grief
  • Bereavement support groups