School-based grief support and crisis management

During their school years, more than 60,000 children and teens in Minnesota will experience the death of a parent or sibling. Grief is difficult to understand at any age. As a young person navigating the challenges of school and peer relationships, having a loved one die can make those routine challenges completely overwhelming.

Growing Through Grief offers intensive, in-school support to elementary, middle and high school students coping with the death of a loved one. Because of the generous donors in our community, programming is provided to students at no charge. Grief services are available in 15 partnering Twin Cities-area and Wisconsin school districts (PDF). Collaborative crisis management support for death-related incidents – such as when a staff member or student dies – is also available.

Growing Through Grief was established to provide grief support for children and teens, meeting them where they are in their process. More than 80% of participants said the program helped them concentrate in class. In addition, 95% or more said they improved their knowledge of grief, gained better coping skills and would refer a friend to the program.

Grief doesn’t have to be isolating. Growing Through Grief gives children and teens a safe space where they can share their feelings, get expert counseling and realize they’re not alone.

Grief support services we provide

Working closely with school staff, Growing Through Grief counselors use developmentally designed curriculum to care for students:

  • Weekly peer grief support groups
  • Private individual counseling
  • Death-related school crisis support
  • Community and faculty education
  • Referrals and resources

Growing Through Grief is the only program of its kind in Minnesota. We serve over 550 students weekly at 82 schools in the Twin Cities and Wisconsin. These services are making a difference.

Growing Through Grief staff collaborate with schools and community organizations to provide grief education and resources. For more information or to get started, call 952-993-6299.

Become a Growing Through Grief Ambassador

If you’ve benefited from our programs, you can volunteer as a Growing Through Grief Ambassador. Ambassadors are teachers, caregivers, administrators, former participants, advocates – anyone who wants to help spread the word about Growing Through Grief.

Ambassadors are a key part of helping us grow our outreach so we can support every child who needs it. There are several ways to get involved.

Katy’s story: How Growing Through Grief began

At a young age, Katy McCourtney experienced grief in a way that was unexpected. Her father died when she was a teenager, leaving her with heartache she struggled to understand. Katy didn’t have the resources to process her grief in a healthy manner, and she made unhealthy choices to try to cope with her father’s death. She died tragically at the young age of 29.

Katy’s family wanted to create a living memorial in her honor. Katy was a very giving person who loved children. It seemed fitting that her legacy could be to support grieving children and teens in one of their most formative environments: their schools. The Growing Through Grief program was developed and began supporting students in 1997.

Growing Through Grief is made possible thanks to the Park Nicollet Foundation, Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital Hospice, our participating school districts, and the generosity of Katy’s family and private donors.

Growing Through Grief program forms

Administrators and educators at participating school districts can find Growing Through Grief program forms here: