Our Founders

The journey to the creation of The Grief Club of Minnesota began for both of the co-founders, Cara and Sarah, when they were children as they both experienced the deaths of significant family members.  Cara and Sarah both recognize and understand the multifaceted emotions that are felt when a family member dies and the importance of grieving and healing together as a family.  

Their grief journey’s inspired their professional careers of becoming social workers in the field of death, dying and bereavement with a special emphasis on supporting grieving children and teens. They have dedicated their entire combined 40+ years in their professional careers as hospice social workers, school grief counselors, mental health crisis and trauma responders, co-owners of a private grief therapy practice and co-founders of The Grief Club. 

Through the years they have done extensive research, and developed positive relationships with the Executive Directors of grief centers throughout the country who have partnered with them as they create The Grief Club of Minnesota.  Because of these significant relationships, their expertise and compassion, they have a strong understanding of what is needed to develop, implement and sustain a children’s grief center.

Sarah Kroenke & Cara Mearns-Thompson

Compassionate, patient and experienced in the field of bereavement support and crisis and trauma work

Counselor, author, consultant, local and national presenter

“Spending my days with grieving children, teens and their families is one of my greatest honors. It is a privilege to witness the courage and power of the human spirit’s ability to transform pain into hope and suffering into strength.”

For nearly 27 years, I have worked in the profession of death, dying, and grief as a licensed social worker in hospice, a school grief counselor, program coordinator and co-owner of a private grief counseling practice. My career has been dedicated to providing support and counsel to children, teens, young adults and adults through individual counseling, grief support groups, and crisis and trauma work.

In addition, throughout my extensive career, I have presented locally and nationally on the topic of childhood bereavement, planned and facilitated family grief retreats and support groups for people living with cancer and their caregivers. My lifework has allowed me to author two books, Hope Heals: A Journal of Love, Loss and Memories and Words to Live By, write developmental grief support curriculums and other grief support booklets and published articles. It has been a privilege to have sat beside hundreds of hospice patients during their final breaths and to have counseled thousands of clients coping with the death of their loved one.

Sarah Kroenke
LSW, CFT, FT

Cara Mearns-Thompson
LICSW, FT

Calming, skilled listener, and empathetic to the unique needs of grieving children, teens, and families.

Counselor, educator, and local presenter

My work with grieving children and families began over 16 years ago while I was working as a hospice social worker. I found great privilege in being trusted to provide intimate in-home emotional support to families while anticipating the death of their loved one.

As a licensed clinical social worker, I have spent thousands of hours counseling grieving children, teens, young adults and their families through individual counseling, family counseling, grief support groups, and crisis and trauma response. Many years were spent supporting grieving children and teens in a school based grief support program. Within this program I was involved in crisis and trauma work in schools, in addition to the weekly grief support to students. I love the energy and natural wisdom of the children and teens that I have been privileged to support! I have co-authored a published school based grief curriculum, and presented on the topic of children’s grief, planned and facilitated family grief retreats. I am passionate about educating, and bringing awareness to the unique and individualized needs of childhood bereavement.

Cara and Sarah have the professional experience and bereavement expertise to make The Grief Club of Minnesota a safe and powerful place of healing and growth. Perhaps more importantly, they have a personal passion and energy for this mission that is vital to the success and sustainability of what will undoubtedly be an invaluable asset for the state.

Brook Griese, PhD

Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Co-Founder of Judi’s House, Denver, CO
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