Hamilton's Academy of Grief and Loss offers free grief support and resources to children, adults, and the community at large. Though we are located in Des Moines, Illinois, our website contains resources that are applicable to grieving peoples all over the world. 


Because grief is such a unique reaction, the intensity, pattern, time frames and resolution will vary for every individual. You may be feeling all, some, or none of the effects listed below. It's important to remember that all of these are natural and normal grief responses. 

  • PHYSICAL EFFECTS: headaches, dizziness, exhaustion, muscular aches, loss of appetite, insomnia, hollowness, breathlessness
  • EMOTIONAL EFFECTS: anger, sadness, anxiety, sense of helplessness, shock, numbness,  yearning, relief, guilt
  • PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS: sense of depersonalization, lack of concentration, search for the meaning of life or death, dreams of the deceased, preoccupation with thoughts of the deceased
  • BEHAVIORAL EFFECTS: crying, change of relationships, avoiding reminders, carrying reminders, withdrawal, over-activity, moodiness, apathy
  • SPIRITUAL EFFECTS: embracing one's faith, questioning one's faith, reliance upon God, anger toward God, coming to grips with one's own mortality, searching for the meaning of life


By learning about the process of grief and learning also to express your feelings concerning your experience, you will be better equipped to handle the uncomfortable side effects of grief. Hamilton's Academy of Grief & Loss offers a wide variety of resources available to you and your family as you begin to work through your grief.

    • Grief Lending Library- An integral part of the Academy is our lending library which houses an extensive collection of books, periodicals, brochures and videos, for all ages, pertaining to grief and loss issues. Located at 3601 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, the library is open every day, and materials may be checked out for a two week period.
    • Community Resource Booklet- The Academy composes and keeps updated for our community a detailed listing of current grief and support resources available in the Des Moines area, as well as across the state. This includes support groups, counseling services and other available resources for persons of all ages.
    • Printable Resources- The Academy is pleased to offer a variety of printable grief resources for all ages. 
    • Professional Referral Network- Consists of local professionals offering their assistance to families following a death. This includes help with: banking issues, wills, estate settlement, the donation of household possessions and clothing, and the donation of durable medical equipment. Services are free and confidential.
    • Presentations, Seminars and Short Courses- The Academy is very involved in giving presentations, seminars and short courses throughout the community regarding death and grief issues. 
    • Tours- The Academy provides tours at any of our funeral home & crematory facilities for all types of groups & ages.
    • Children's Grief Services- The Academy offers two short-term grief programs especially for children. Healing Hearts is for children in grades one through six; Little Hands is for children ages 3 1/2 to 6. These programs give children a chance to interact with others their own age who have experienced the death of someone loved. We use art, music, games and stories to help children understand death and their own unique feelings which accompany their grief. Both programs are offered free of charge to all children in our community. 
    • First Viewing Support-  is available to families who wish to have a grief support person present for their child or children at the time of the family's first viewing at the funeral home.
    • One-on-one Counseling-  is available for children and teens ages three and up. An initial grief assessment meeting takes place at no charge. Follow-up sessions are based on a simple sliding fee scale.
    • Crisis Debriefing Services- The Academy staff is available to anyone who has experienced grief-related crisis or trauma, whether it is personal, in a workplace or school setting.
    • Coping With Grief Symposium- Two times yearly, The Academy offers Hamilton's Family Services Symposium. During the Symposium, speakers address the topic: "Coping With Grief," offering practical suggestions to adults who have experienced a death. Representatives from community grief support organizations are also available to offer information about the services they provide. Each program concludes with a memorial candle lighting ceremony.
    • Pet Loss Support Group- The Academy offers a grief support group for those who have lost a beloved pet. Our goal is to provide a group where your grief can be shared and validated by others who understand. This group is open to all members of the community ages 18 and up at no charge. This group meets as requested at Hamilton’s on Westown Parkway, 3601 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines. For more information, or to make reservations to this program, please contact the Academy.
    • School Grief Groups- The Academy offers school grief groups for school-aged students, providing grieving students the opportunity to connect with their peers as they learn and grow through their grief together at school. The six-week curriculum aims to help children understand and normalize their own grief experiences, while also providing tools for coping. This service is offered free of charge to any school (pre K-12) in the community.
    • Crisis Response- The Academy is available to respond to crisis situations when a death occurs in the school community. The Academy provides and facilitates grief support in a group setting to students and staff alike. This service if offered free of charge to any school (pre K-12) in the community.
    • Professional Training- The Academy offers training to school faculty and staff for any grade level. Training will equip school staff to help grieving children, providing education centered on developmental considerations and practical suggestions for supporting children in grief. Professional Training is based on a sliding fee scale. 


Music to Grieve to on iTunes

Music to Grieve to

Listening to sad music after losing a loved one, being diagnosed with a terminal illness, or finalizing a divorce might seem counterintuitive, but this somber sounding activity has been proven to help.

Nothing can prepare you for grief, nor is there a right or wrong way to deal with it, but sad music is an easily accessible and highly effective tool that can help you begin to heal.

Learn How Sad Music Can Help You