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Grief Resources: Local Support Groups

The following grief counseling and support groups are available in our region. These organizations offer help to people who have experienced loss through death. Your funeral director can offer additional information at your request.

Bereavement Support Groups in Des Moines

Below we have provided a number of local area support groups that you may want to consider after the loss of a loved one. All of the groups welcome new members and encourage you to be as active as you want to be.

At the time of a loss and immediately after, friends and family provide a great source of comfort. But as the days pass, most of us find that the support and friendship of kindred souls who have suffered the same kind of loss is both helpful and healing.

Partnership Between Iles Funeral Homes and Amanda the Panda

Iles Funeral Homes and Amanda the Panda have partnered together to support children and families when someone they love has died. This support is provided through services which include: Weekend camps tailored to college students, children ages 6 – 17, and adults as well as support groups, Fun Days, and Holiday Support activities and programs. Amanda the Panda provides these services free of charge to our families. Amanda the Panda’s mission is to restore grieving children and families back into the mainstream of their lives through innovative services that provide hope and healing. For additional information call 515.223.4847 or visit


Compassionate Friends
Self-help organization for bereaved families after the death of a child.  Meets the first Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at Hamilton's on Westown Parkway, Children's Butterfly Garden Reception Room, 3601 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines.  Contact from other parents who have also had a child die, provides the opportunity to talk to someone who has "been there."  Lending library and newsletter available.  Sibling and grandparent support also.


Contacts: Co-Chapter Leader: Cathy Peterson

(515) 993-4574

Co-Chapter Leader:  Mary Jane Nemetz (515) 238-1198

Accidental Death:  Donnafred Hinman (515) 226-2141

SIDA Death: Karen Wiederholt (515) 274-3584

Suicide:  Paul & JoyceScranton (515) 965-2467

Empty Arms (part of the Compassionate Friends)

Support group for parents who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. Meets, along with Compassionate Friends, the first Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at Hamilton's on Westown Parkway, Children's Butterfly Garden Reception Room, 3601 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines. The discussion group is lead by other parents who have also experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death. Lending library and newsletter availabe.

Contact: Betsy Lundy (515) 277-7502

Iowa SIDS Foundation

The Iowa SIDS Foundation is a statewide non-profit health organization dedicated to providing emotional support to SIDS and SUID families, educating professionals and the general public about SIDS and funding medical research into the causes of SIDS.

406 SW School Street, Ste. 205

Ankeny, Iowa 50023


Contact: Patty Keeley ()

(515) 965-7655 or (866) 480-4741

Mommies With Hope

A biblically based support group for moms who have experienced the loss of a child (pregnancy, infant, or child loss). Moms are encouraged by connecting with and comforting one another through monthly "Hope" meetings and occasional social outings. Whether your loss is recent or abiding, all stages of grief are welcome.


Contact: Teske Drake (319) 404-0272


Des Moines-Coping After A Suicide Support Group - by Polk County Crisis and Advcacy Services

Offers a safe, confidential support group open to anyone (older teens and adults) surviving the loss of a loved one through suicide. Meets the second Thursday of each month from 6-7:30 p.m. as well as the fourth Saturday of each month from 9-10:30 a.m. No charge.

Polk County Crisis and Advocacy Services

2309 Euclid 

Des Moines, Iowa 50310

Contact: Joann McCracken Young (515) 286-3600

Contact: Stef McAdam (515)225-6585


Waukee-Surviving Loss by Suicide 

Meets the first Thursday of each month from 6-7:30 p.m. No charge.

Waukee Public Library

950 Warrior Lane, Waukee, Iowa  50263

Contact: Denise Gilbert (515) 979-8313



The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has many resources for survivors; go to their website and search by zip code.


Homicide Survivors Support Group - by Polk County Crisis and Advocacy Services

For family and friends who have lost a loved one as the result of homicide. Meets the third Tuesday of each month at our office from 6-7:30 p.m. No charge.

Polk County Crisis and Advocacy Services

2309 Euclid

Des Moines, Iowa 50310

Contact: Sara McMillan (515) 286-2026



LADOS "Life After Death Of Spouse" meets the second Sunday of the month at 7 p.m. at Plymouth Congregational Church, 42nd St. and Ingersoll, DM, for compassion, education and fellowship. In addition to the meetings there are dinners, special events and other social activities. "Don't Eat Alone" every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Olive Garden on Westown Parkway in West Des Moines.

Retreats for Widowed Persons

"One Der Full Weekend." This retreat is held each April at Pilgrim Heights Camp (near Tama-Toledo). Keynote speakers, workshops, and fun activities

"Fun Day." This retreat is held every October at Pilgrim Heights Camp. A day of fun, food and fellowship. Activities include fishing, paddle boating and canoeing.

Contact: Carol Dorsey (712) 762-3825

W.E.T. Group- Widows Experiencing Transition

A support group started in 2005 for women in their 20's through their 60's who have experienced the death of their spouse. This group meets twice monthly, one a social outing, the other a meeting. It provides opportunities to foster new friendships, learn together to conquer the feeling, struggles and doubts encountered in this new life and to receive spirtual support.


Contact: Linda Collicot (515) 953-1681

Y.E.W.S. - Young Energetic Widowed Singles, Inc.

Started in 1984, the YEWS group is a social support group for adults who have experienced the death of their spouse. The regular monthly dinner is held on the 2nd and 4th Thursday night of each month. The group dines out in a local restaurant with social conversation and dinner at 6 p.m. There is no meeting, just conversation, laughter and fun.

Contacts: Virginia Powers (515) 255-1950

Volney Smith (515) 987-3388




Children (ages 6-17) grieving the death of a loved one meet in separate groups with two facilitators per group for 8 weeks on Monday evenings in the fall, winter and spring. Starting at 6:00 p.m. a meal is served and groups conclude at 7:30 p.m. No Charge.

1000 73rd St., Suite 12

Windsor Heights, Iowa 50324

Contact: Charlene Kiesling (515) 223-4847


CAMP AMANDA - for grieving children, teens and adults

This weekend grief camp is held in April and September for grieving children (6 years and older), teens and adults. Camp dates and application forms are posted on the webstie. No charge.

Contact: Charlene Kiesling (515) 223-4847


DADDY'S LITTLE ANGELS - ages 12 and under

A support group started in 2006 for children ages 12 and under, whose dads have died. There are monthly activities planned, either a meeting, a social or an outing.


Contact: Jana Nichols (515) 962-0614


STEPPING STONES - ages 3-5 and 6-10

A six week program designed to encourage children, who have experienced the loss of a loved one, to share their experiences, identify and understand their feelings, clarify misunderstings about death and dying and strengthen their faith in Jesus. Meets in conjunction with GriefShare.

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church

8301 Aurora Ave., Urbandale, Iowa 50322

Contact: Pastor Tim Phillips (515) 276-1700


GRIEF RELIEF - by Hospice of Central Iowa

Grief Relief is a three hour event, twice a year; open to grades 7-12. This session is about handling the grief that comes after someone dies. Free of Charge. Call for location and registration.

Contact: Bereavement Counselors (515) 274-3400


TEENS TOGETHER GRIEF SUPPORT - by Gloria Dei Lutheran Church

An interactive discussion-based curriculum which helps teens who have lost a loved one go through the grief process with others who are experiencing the same emotional situations. Activities take place at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church.

Contact: Pastor Tim Phillips

() (515) 276-1700



TOG "Touching Our Grief" is ongoing grief support sessions for adults surviving the death of someone loved. Support group available in West Des Moines. No charge. Call for dates, times and locations of groups outside of West Des Moines.

401 Railroad Pl.

West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

Contact: Bereavement Counselors (515) 274-3400

SEASONS OF GRIEF - by Iowa Health Hospice 

 Grief support group for adults over age 18. Group meets the first Monday of every month. Group is offered at Iowa Lutheran Hospital from 10:00 a.m. to noon. No charge. 

Contact: Tricia Tentinger (515) 557-3169 

"Supper Gathering"- Adults who are grieving the death of a loved one gather at a designated restaurant at 6:30 p.m. on the third Monday of alternating months. Supper is "Dutch Treat" ordered from the menu. Pre-registration is required. Supper Gathering provides socializing opportunity for people interested in Seasons of Grief (See above).


STEPPING STONES - by Iowa Health Hospice 

Four Sessions that provide basic information about the emotional and physical aspects of the grieving process. Offered on Thursdays in March, July and October from 10 a.m. to noon and again from 6:30-8:30 p.m. No Charge.

Contact: Tricia Tentinger (515) 557-3169



"Soup Tuesday" - an opportunity to share a simple meal with others who have experienced the death of a loved one. Held the first Tuesday of every month, 5:30-7:00 p.m. at Mercy Hospice-Johnston, 5820 Winwood Dr., Johnston, Iowa  50131

"Comfort and Coffee" - a monthly drop-in grief support group. Meets the first Friday of each month, 10 a.m., Mercy Hospice-Johnston, 5820 Winwood Dr., Johnston, Iowa 50131

"The Men's Group" - a non-denominational social group for men of all ages who have experienced the loss of a loved one: spouse, parent, child, friend. Times and dates vary.

"Pathways through Grief" - a multi-session grief education program offered several times throughout the year. Classes limited to 12.

"Managing Grief During the Holidays" - offers positive, creative suggestions for living through the holidays while experiencing the loss of a family member. Typically offered in early November.

 For more information, or to make reservations for any of the programs listed, please send an e-mail to or Contact: Mary Kay Casey (515) 643-6147





Adults grieving the death of a loved one meet with two facilitators per group for 8 weeks on Monday evenings in the fall, winter and spring. A meal is served at 6:00 p.m. and groups conclude at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge. (Groups are available for children and teens 6-17 at the same time.)

1000 73rd St., Suite 12

Windsor Heights, Iowa 50324

Contact: Charlene "Charlie" Kiesling

(515) 223-4847



The Beginning Experience weekend program helps grieving single-again persons move from the darkness of grief into the light of a new beginning, and move into the future with renewed hope. The program helps deal with the natural grief process and offers an opportunity, through God, for turning the pain of loss into an experience of positive growth. Three weekend programs are provided each year.

Contact: Cleo Scheidel





Services provided to families, couples, and individuals struggling with a variety of issues including grief, loss, sexual abuse, and family conflict.

601 Grand Ave.

Des Moines, Iowa 50309

Information: (515) 244-3761



Strengthening Families and Restoring Futures. Licensed clinicians that are caring and compassionate to assist families in healing through grief and loss and other life situations/events. A non-profit organization that provides counseling on a sliding scale or ability to pay basis for children, adolescents, adults, couples and families. Evening hours available.

1111 University Ave.

Des Moines, Iowa

Contact: Pat Rogness (515) 697-7978



Counseling that provides understanding, hope and healing in a variety of areas including: grief and loss, anxiety, depression, stress, self-esteem, relationship problems, parent-child issues, and spiritual matters. Compassionate counselors take a mind, body and spirit approach to helping individual adults, couples and families to live more fully. Innovative services for counseling children and adolescents. An independent non-profit organization providing counseling through insurance and/or on a sliding scale or ability-to-pay basis. Office hours 8-6 Monday-Friday, evening hours available.

2929 Westown Parkway, Suite 110

West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

Information: (515) 274-4006



"Growing in Grief"

3rd Monday of each month, 7-9 p.m.

5508 NW 88th Street

Johnston, Iowa 50131


Widower's Support Group

Meets simultaneously

For more information please call Char at 515-271-6765



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