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Honoring Grief...Intending to Heal

Honoring Grief—Intending to Heal is a grief support companion training program for those who are new to companioning the bereaved and/or for those who are currently supporting the bereaved in various capacities and want to hone their skills.

The companioning model can be integrated into—and can greatly enhance—any support for the bereaved, by a counselor, social worker, hospice worker, chaplain, support group facilitator, minister, funeral home employee, nurse, physician, spiritual director, friend, or family member.

This approach to supporting the bereaved makes a clear distinction between other models that focus on treating, fixing, curing, analyzing, and resolving another’s grief. Instead, the companioning model is about “being authentically present to the mourner, allowing the mourner to teach and guide you, and even being a temporary guardian of the person’s soul” (Alan Wolfelt).

The art of being a grief support companion is deceptively simple but most find it challenging as it demands personal accountability of—and tending to—one’s own losses, as well as allowing oneself to be vulnerable. This training program’s approach includes a healthy balance of head and heart.

Components of the Companion Training Program include:

· in-depth exploration of the companioning philosophy (with sensitivity to serving differing ages, cultures, ethnicities, and spiritual backgrounds)

· basic understanding of grief and its significance

· connecting spirituality and grief

· basic understanding of healing in grief

· surveying the necessity of being with difficult emotions and feelings

· clarifying the necessity of purposeful and intentional healing

· learning and practicing companioning skills with particular emphasis on creating and holding safe spaces, the art of curiosity through an appreciation and integration of “beginners mind,” and developing listening and questioning skills

· practical implications of using the companion model in various grief support modalities.

Gatherings will include:

· presentation and educational activities

· small and large group interaction

· meditation and griever-friendly rituals

· opportunities to practice skills

· opportunities for personal integration.

Program Requirements:

· attendance at all five Saturday gatherings

· a space of 1.5 years since a significant loss (preferred)

· reading and intentional reflection and integration before sessions.

Participants who complete the Program will receive:

· four grief related books

· practical handouts

· certificate of completion of 4 Continuing Education Units (40 Contact Hours) through the University of Wisconsin—Parkside Continuing Education Division.

Registration and Application Process:

1. Register. We suggest you do not pay the deposit until you are accepted into the program.

2. Once your registration is received, you will be emailed a biographical application form which is required to be completed and submitted for review by the training program team.

3. You will be notified regarding your acceptance into the program and mailed the assignment for the initial gathering. Once accepted, please submit the non-refundable deposit by mail or by calling (262) 898-2590.

Registration is due by Monday, February 20, 2021.

Saturdays, March 20, April 17, May 22, June 19, July 17 (Snow date April 24), 2021
Cost of $495 includes $55 non-refundable deposit, all five training days, four books, handouts and materials, meals, and CEUs.
Some financial assistance is available, if needed.  Please contact (262) 898-2590.


Melissa Minkley, MSW, CT, is the co-founder of Healing Life’s Losses Grief Support Services and is a social worker with over 25 years of experience in psychosocial oncology and bereavement counseling. She  is the Executive Director of Healing Hearts of Waukesha County, a program supporting children and families impacted by loss. Melissa has companioned adults and children as individuals and in support group, workshops and retreat settings focusing on enhancing one’s holistic well-being. Her personal experience of loss has given Melissa insight into the impact grief has on individuals, families and friends.

Ann Marie Uselmann, MSW, LCSW, is a clinical social worker with over 20 years of experience journeying with those who have significant health issues, as well as those in grief due to a variety of losses. She currently provides individual grief counseling at Ad Pacem—Toward Peace Counseling, in addition to working with individuals affected by cancer at Froedtert Hospital and The Medical College of Wisconsin.  She is humbled and honored to work with those struggling   to make sense of what life offers.


Download a brochure in pdf format.

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