Grief Support

Iowa City/Coralville Support Groups

Bereavement Support & Counseling

Iowa City HospiceFollowing a patient’s death, Iowa City Hospice bereavement staff is available to support family members and friends throughout the grieving process.

Grieving the loss of a loved one can be a painful, isolating and lonely time. Iowa City Hospice’s grief support services can help. Their services are available to anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one, regardless of whether the person was in hospice care.

Iowa City Hospice offers a variety of grief support services including support groups (for adults, children and their parents or caregivers), grief education, and special events. For detailed information, click here

For more information about Bereavement Luncheons or to RSVP
please contact Donita Hermsen at 319-688-4206 or

Grief Resources provided by Gay & Ciha

Understanding Your Grief

A professionally led, ongoing support group for individuals who have lost a spouse or partner within the last three years.

Grief Resources provided by Gay & Ciha

Children’s Support Group
  • KUL (Kids Understanding Loss) – ages 5-10
  • ROLL (Respect Our Life Losses) – ages 11-15

We meet the 2nd Tuesday of the month during the school year.

Parents/Guardians meet separately while their children are meeting. 

Please RSVP

Willowwind School
950 Dover Street
Iowa City.

For more information please contact Gail Garwood at 319-688-4217 or

Grief Resources provided by Gay & Ciha

Living Through Loss

An educational program for bereaved individuals that provides a supportive environment to receive education, support and resources to help with loss.

Grief Resources provided by Gay & Ciha

Caregiver Support

Iowa City Hospice and Pathways Adult Day Health Center offer a support group for caregivers that are open to all community members at any point in their care giving journey. The group meets on the first and third Wednesdays of the month from 1:00-2:30 p.m. at Johnson County Extension, 3109 Old Hwy 218 South, Iowa City.

‘Family Caregiver Connections’ – [FREE monthly e-newsletter] for families with aging parents

One in five American households cares for an older adult. These family caregivers make up the backbone of our elder care system. We need to support them. Each month, the e-newsletter will have articles on important eldercare topics. The focus will be on general issues of the chronic care phase. Topics will be useful and timely.  For example:

  • Tax breaks for family caregivers
  • Communicating with your doctor
  • Five signs your parents may need help

With the e-newsletter, we are striving to support families while also helping the community realize that we are more than the experts in death and dying. We are the experts in family caregiving and the day-to-day realities of living fully despite a serious illness. Sign up for the e-newsletter at

For more information about our other Iowa City Hospice Caregiver Support Programs visit or contact Sara Krieger RN, CHPN, Clinical Leader at or 319-688-4203.

Grief Resources provided by Gay & Ciha

Community Support and Information

CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank, formerly The Johnson County Crisis Center offers a Suicide Survivors Support Group on the first Thursday of each month and there is no cost to attend. The Crisis Center is located at 1121 Gilbert Court in Iowa City. The meeting will offer participants a safe place to talk about memories, ongoing grief and the stigma surrounding death by suicide. New members are welcome and encouraged to attend. For more information, visit the Crisis Center’s Survivors Support Group page, Survivors of Suicide Resources page, or contact Keri Neblett at 351-0140 or by email at

Iowa City Hospice Downloadable Resources
Grief Resources provided by Gay & Ciha

Infant Loss
  • Perinatal Bereavement Resource Catalog  
  • Iowa SIDS Foundation
  • SIDS – Dealing with Grief

“What we have enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” – Helen Keller

We each will experience our own unique grief.  Each person will have a very personal, unique journey to travel with the loss of a loved one. The Dealing with Grief section contains information and links that we hope will help during this difficult time.

The Iowa SIDS Foundation is staffed part-time and is an affiliate of First Candle. If you have an immediate need to talk to someone, please know that grief counselors are only a phone call away, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.   If you or someone you know needs help, call First Candle at 1-800-221-7437 to talk to one of their grief counselors. 

Other helpful links:

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS)

For families overcome by grief and pain, the idea of photographing their baby may not immediately occur to them. Offering gentle and beautiful photography services in a compassionate and sensitive manner is the heart of this organization. The soft, gentle heirloom photographs of these beautiful babies are an important part of the healing process. They allow families to honor and cherish their babies, and share the spirits of their lives. The NILMDTS mission statement is to introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with the gift of professional portraiture. We believe these images serve as an important step in the family’s healing process by honoring their child’s legacy.

Do’s and Don’ts for Friends and Family: If someone you care about has a baby die of stillbirth, SIDS or other cause of sudden infant death, there are things that you can do to help him or her through the grieving process and cope with the death of their baby. The avoidance by friends and family, unsure of what to say or do, only adds to the pain and isolation felt by parents.  This link from First Candle shares basic suggestions for friends and family.

First Candle – Local Support

This site provides a listing of SIDS organizations across the United States.  Affiliates of First Candle are marked with an asterisks.

Iowa SIDS Alliance*
Ms. Patty Keeley, Executive Director
406 SW School St., Ste. 205
Ankeny, IA 50023
Phone: (515) 279-6928
866-480-4741(toll free)
Fax: (515) 965-7655
Services: Bereavement support for SIDS and SUID

Grief Resources provided by Gay & Ciha

Online Resources

Association For Death Education and Counseling

Death And Dying We are alive, therefore we will die. This is the simplest, most obvious truth of our existence, and yet very few of us have really come to terms with it.

We are alive, therefore we will die.

 This inspiring website gives unparalleled Buddhist insight into death and dying, helping us to develop an awareness of our own mortality in a way that will totally enrich and transform our life. Mastery of these topics will enable us to meet our death with grace, clarity, and fearlessness, and experience happiness in all our future lives.

Department of Veterans Affairs

In-Sight Books, Inc. is the publishing and training company of Doug Manning, one of the best loved authors and speakers in the areas of grief and elder care.

The Care Community  A community of care . . . Participation & registration are free. Helping people is my passion and life’s work. Helping people on their grief journey or helping those dealing with the stresses and guilt of caring for aging loved ones is the purpose of this website. I hope you find something here to help you.  -Doug Manning

Good Grief - Helping Children Cope with the Loss -- Helping Children Cope with Grief

Maximum Living Consultant – suggested readings

Mercy on Call – Iowa City – Mercy On Call is a free, confidential phone service staffed by Mercy nurses that have years of experience. The nurses are caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable, with a wide variety of resources and references to help you. Mercy On Call is the place to start for your health needs and questions.

Mercy On Call nurses:

  • Can help you figure out what to do when you don’t feel well.
  • Can help you find a physician who meets your needs.
  • Can register you for classes, programs, health screenings, and support groups.
  • Can give you expert health information.

Mercy On Call RNs are ready to help you seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 12 midnight.
Call today, locally at 358-2767 or toll-free at 800-358-2767, or e-mail

National Public Radio’s Series On Death – Exploring Death in America

Paul Alexander’s Bereavement Resources – Grief songs for grief support, bereavement, hospice, funerals, hope and comfort by Paul Alexander

Social Security Administration

About Palliative Care – Hospice and Palliative Care – About Death & Dying

Trappist Caskets – Handmade caskets from the monks of New Melleray Abbey, est. 1849 – Peosta, Iowa

Grief Resources provided by Gay & Ciha

Funeral Resources

Planning Your Own Funeral

Planning your own funeral arrangements can be a thoughtful and considerate way to ease the burden on your family. Planning lets you shop and compare goods and services without time constraints. You can find the best prices, make sensible decisions, and discourage emotional overspending on elaborate arrangements that family members might be tempted to purchase in their bereavement. Share your plans with family members so they understand your desires and have the information they need.

Many people say that discussions with a lawyer about preparing or updating their will, living will or powers of attorney (including a durable power of attorney for health care) — or conversations with a financial advisor about investment strategies for retirement — prompt them to think about making arrangements for their own funerals. Attorneys and financial consultants can be good sources of information about planning funerals, as are the following organizations:

601 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20049
AARP is a membership organization for people 50 years of age and older. Funeral-related information also is available at

Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.
4200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 800
Arlington, VA 22203-1838
Better Business Bureaus are private, nonprofit organizations that promote ethical business standards and voluntary self-regulation of business practices.

Cremation Association of North America
401 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
CANA is an association of crematories, cemeteries, and funeral homes that offer cremation.

Funeral Consumers Alliance
33 Patchen Road
South Burlington, VT 05403
FCA is a nonprofit educational organization that supports increased funeral consumer protection. Their website has free pamphlets on funeral planning, plus a directory of local volunteer funeral planning groups.

Funeral Ethics Organization
87 Upper Access Road
Hinesburg, VT 05461
FEO, an independent nonprofit educational organization, promotes ethical dealings in death- related transactions and provides mediation assistance to resolve consumer complaints.

Green Burial Council
8 Estacada Court
Santa Fe, NM 87508
GBC, an independent, nonprofit that encourages environmentally sustainable death care practices as a means of acquiring, restoring, and stewarding natural areas, assists consumers in identifying “green” cemetery, funeral, and cremation services.

Iowa Funeral Directors Association
1454 30th Street, Suite 204
West Des Moines, IA 50266
Phone: 515.270.0130
Toll-Free: 800.982.6561
Fax: 515.270.1569

International Cemetery and Funeral Association
107 Carpenter Drive, Suite 100
Sterling, VA 20164

ICFA is a nonprofit association of cemeteries, funeral homes, crematories, and monument retailers that offers informal mediation of consumer complaints through its Cemetery Consumer Service Council. Its website provides information and advice in its Consumer Resource Guide.

International Order of the Golden Rule
PO Box 28689
St. Louis, MO 63146-1189
OGR is an international association of about 1,300 independent funeral homes.

Jewish Funeral Directors of America
150 Lynnway, Suite 506
Lynn, MA 01902
JFDA is an international association of funeral homes serving the Jewish community.

National Funeral Directors Association
13625 Bishop’s Drive
Brookfield, WI 53005
NFDA is an educational and professional association of funeral directors. NFDA also sponsors the NFDA Help Line, which is designed to help consumers resolve complaints about NFDA members.

National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association
3951 Snapfinger Parkway, Suite 570
Decatur, GA 30035
NFDMA is a national association primarily of African-American funeral providers.

Selected Independent Funeral Homes
500 Lake Cook Road, Suite 205
Deerfield, IL 60015
SIFH is an international association of funeral firms that have agreed to comply with its Code of Good Funeral Practices.

Solving Problems

If you have a problem concerning funeral matters, it’s best to try to resolve it first with the funeral director. If you are dissatisfied with the funeral services you receive, the Funeral Consumers Alliance offers advice on how best to resolve a problem. In addition, the FEO, the NFDA Help Line, and the ICFA Cemetery Consumer Service Council may be able to provide informal mediation of a complaint. You also can contact your state or local consumer protection agencies. Check the Blue Pages of your telephone directory for the phone number or check for a list of state Attorneys General.

In addition, you can file a complaint with the FTC. Visit or call 1-877-FTCHELP (382-4357); TDD: 1-866-653-4261. Although the Commission cannot resolve individual problems for consumers, it can act against a company if it sees a pattern of possible law violations.

For More Information

For more comprehensive information about the Funeral Rule, see Funerals: A Consumer Guide. The Guide, written by the FTC, includes a price checklist, glossary of terms, a description of services, information sources, and a list of questions to ask funeral professionals.

The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.