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Childhood grief survey demonstrates the need for local school program

Park Nicollet Foundation funds Growing Through Grief program to address need for long-term support, great access to grief resources

Losing a loved one is hard on everyone. But for children who lose a parent or other family member, the grieving process can be much longer. And it can be overall more difficult to process, too.

Childhood bereavement has a lasting impact. But as a study from the New York Life Foundation found, support for childhood grief is often short-lived. 57 percent of the people who lost a parent growing up say it takes more than six years to move forward. Yet those same people say their support circle went away within the first three months.

The survey also found that others do not know what to say to someone who is grieving. 63 percent of people avoid talking about grief out of fear they will say the wrong thing.

It is because of stats like these that Park Nicollet Foundation started Growing Through Grief. The in-school grief support program started in 1997. It helps children and teens overcome the pain of losing a loved one. Growing Through Grief provides services in 13 school districts and 75 schools. It’s the only school-based grief support program in Minnesota. And it’s paid for entirely by Park Nicollet Foundation donors.

“The New York Life Foundation survey results show the importance of programs like Growing Through Grief,” says Beth Warner, president of the Park Nicollet Foundation. “Helping students and families overcome barriers to care and grief support is the most crucial factor when it comes to building resiliency. Park Nicollet Foundation is proud to be able to help continue this work.”

Growing Through Grief provides a host of resources in schools. These include:

  • Peer grief support groups
  • Individual counseling for students
  • Crisis response to school tragedies
  • Community and staff education

As many as 500 students use the program each week. Of the students who took part in Growing Through Grief last year, 99 percent reported improved knowledge of the grief process. 95 percent said it helped improve their coping skills. And 84 percent said it improved their ability to concentrate in school.

In 2017, the Park Nicollet Foundation received a grant for Growing Through Grief. The New York Life Foundation awarded this grant based on our program’s success and the community’s need for continued services for students. The funding will be used to develop training programs and resources.


Growing Through Grief relies on the generosity of donors, friends and families. These thoughtful donations are what make the program possible.

To make a gift:

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