Grief & Bereavement

Our Family is Here to Help Yours

Experiencing a loss is a difficult and often chaotic experience. You may be feeling a mix of shock, anger, guilt, and sadness — and all of these can contribute to an overwhelming sense of frustration. These feelings are normal, but that does not make them any less difficult. Our grief and bereavement counselors are here to support you during this difficult time.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve, but there are healthy ways to cope with the changes and feelings that occur after a loss. Grief is part of the healing process and it can strengthen and enrich your life in time.

If you have experienced a loss, our team is here to help. You are not alone in this journey — we will support you through the most difficult moments. Our hope is that our grief and bereavement services will be a source of comfort as you move forward.

We are here to help you find more information on grief and connect you to community resources. This information is meant to be educational and supportive.

To reach a CentraCare Hospice Bereavement Coordinator, call 320-259-9375 or 800-835-6610.

For St. Cloud Hospital Spiritual Care staff call the “Bereavement Line” at 320-255-5725. Please leave a message and you will be contacted by St. Cloud Hospital Spiritual Care Staff. This line is not for emergencies. If you feel your grief is overwhelming, call your health care provider or seek immediate help from one of the emergency numbers shown below.

Emergency Phone Numbers

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
  • Minnesota Warmline: Monday-Saturday, noon to 10 p.m., 877-404-3190 or test “support” to 85511
  • Emergency/After-Hour Care

Basics of Grief

  • Grief can be defined as the emotional response to the loss of someone or something.
  • Grief can be individual when someone downsizes and moves into assisted living. Grief also can be felt in a community after the only grocery store in town closes. The circle of grief expands nationally. For example, when we experience cases of racially motivated killings. An example of a broad type of grief is a global pandemic that impacts millions of people.
  • Not everyone will experience the same type or intensity of grief from a common loss.
  • There are many types of loss:
    • Death
    • Job loss
    • COVID-19 — social distancing, quarantine, no travel, school and work from home
    • Independence
    • Health
    • Relationships – divorce, friends, coworkers
    • Retirement
    • Empty nest
    • Financial
    • Pets

Feelings and Emotions

  • Normal
  • There are no bad or good feelings — there are only feelings
  • Everyone is different and responds differently — even in cases of the same loss (siblings and the death of a parent)
  • Permission to name what we feel and to express what we feel

Journey of Grief

  • Few shortcuts, if any, exist. Experiencing the journey of grief will create the best fertile ground for healing to occur. We must go over the mountain — we can’t go around it, through it or under it. Benefits include acceptance and being able to put the loss in context.

Symptoms of Grief (Physical, Emotional, Spiritual)

  • Physical – Fatigue, sleep disturbances, change in appetite, weight loss or gain, weakness, decreased resistance to illnesses
  • Emotional – Numbness, confusion, sadness, guilt, yearning, anger, hopelessness, feeling lost, irritability, memory lapses, distraction
  • Behavioral – Withdrawn from friends and activities, searching, unable to concentrate, forgetfulness, crying, seeking solitude, disorientation
  • Cognitive – Disbelief, denial or avoidance of the reality of the loss, repeated review of the loss, increase or decrease in dreams, suicidal thoughts, impaired self-esteem
  • Spiritual – Symptoms may include:
    • A questioning of faith or belief system
    • Loss of meaning in usual spiritual practices
    • Change in relationship to community of faith

Abnormal Grief

  • Length of time
  • “Weighs us down”
  • Continued feelings of guilt, blame
  • Feeling life is too hard to continue without the loved one
  • Having a plan to hurt yourself
  • Abusing drugs and/or alcohol
  • Inability to deal with day-to-day problems

Anticipatory verses Sudden Loss

  • Anticipatory grief – Grief that happens before a loss occurs — knowing ahead of time, cancer diagnosis, looking ahead to when a child is expected to move to college, retirement date approaches on the calendar
  • Sudden loss – No advanced warning, getting the phone call

Ambiguous Loss

  • Unclear and without closure, think about 9/11 and COVID-19
  • Can be caused by random, uncontrollable external forces and can be responded to by internal coping processes
  • It is considered a relational and systemic rather than individual loss
  • Verification of death is unclear, we just can’t get our hands around it
  • Death is unwitnessed, reality check is why people oftentimes want to see the person before burial, cremation, etc.
  • No certainty that the person will return
  • The person may not be the same
  • Freezes the grief process
  • Paralyzes individual and system functioning
  • Pretty much everyone right now is experiencing grief in some way
  • No ability to say goodbye
  • Promoting resilience by changing expectations


  • The act of grieving
  • Not an event, but a process
  • Rituals can be helpful
  • But rituals don’t exist for every type of loss
  • Prevented by things like a pandemic or not feeling able to share what we feel

Supporting the Bereaved

  • Be careful of good intentions, words do make a difference for good or for bad. Perhaps look online for the “best” way to say something to someone who is grieving.
  • Offer to help with a meal.
  • Give a gift card to a restaurant or provide a meal through a delivery service such as DoorDash or Grubhub.
  • Contribute to a cause which is meaningful to the family.
  • Send a card and/or flowers.
  • Attend the funeral or memorial service.
  • Be aware, they may not know exactly what they need or ask at first. Try offering specific help, such as I’d like to help by mowing your lawn for you the rest of this month.
  • Remember the grieving process doesn’t end in a set time, every loss is different. Convey your support early on and then take a moment later in the grieving process to be that reminder of love and support later when other forms of support may lessen.
  • Be the person who provides a needed listening ear to the grieving person. Try to keep yourself free of distractions while the person speaks, give your attention to his/her words.