Our Staff

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 30 years, I have worked in the profession of end of life care and bereavement 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
Executive Director & Co-Founder

Cara Mearns-Thompson
Clinical Operations Director & Co-Founder

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.

As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for the past 25 years I have experience working with individuals, couples and families in the areas of grief, end of life care including palliative care and hospice. I have facilitated many grief groups over the years including the death of a spouse, family nights for single parent/guardian and children grieving the death of a loved one, and have volunteered at many family grief retreats. I am trained in Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART), a tool to support those who’ve experienced trauma. ART is a way to address the trauma, opening up possibilities of grieving and healing.

I view grief as a normal response to a death and support finding meaning and purpose in the midst of transition, sadness and grief. The support of a trained listener helps as you seek to make meaning of changes and return to preferred ways of functioning or optimally, finding new ways of seeing life and living fully.

Being a part of The Grief Club of Minnesota is an honor to me. It is a humbling experience to walk alongside kids, teens and families as they navigate a death and learn new ways of being in the world while remembering their loved one and engaging in the present.

Allison Chant

Emily Brocato
MA, Clinical Trainee

My history as a high school teacher, a yoga instructor, training in crisis care and working in leadership in multi ethnic settings has guided me to the meaningful work that is at The Grief Club.

I believe grief is a natural response to death, and I consider it a privilege to journey with children, teens, and families as they sort through the complex layers of loss. As a clinical trainee completing my degree program in marriage and family therapy, I am particularly passionate about childhood bereavement and helping families navigate developmental responses to grief. I am deeply grateful to be a part of The Grief Club, a place where families can receive support and pursue healing together.