Family Illness and Grief Counseling

IMG_2453Serious illness in a parent or child can put huge stress on everyone in a family.  Roles shift, worries can go underground, and parents often wonder how to explain to their children what is happening, and help them through this difficult time.

I have worked with families confronting illness and loss for most of my career.  I conducted my doctoral dissertation research on the impact on adolescents of having a parent with cancer, and spent time early in my career working with families who had lost a parent at the Ann Martin Children’s Center’s Bereavement Program in Piedmont, CA.  In 2013, in collaboration with the UCSF Neuro-Oncology department, I co-founded an annual Family Camp for families where one parent has a brain tumor.  I have taught and presented locally on interventions for families, help for caregivers, and parenting through serious illness, and currently serve on the advisory board of the UCSF Gordon Murray Caregiver Program.

Drawing on my years of experience helping families navigate serious illness and grief,  I will help you craft a plan to help you live this part of your lives together in the most meaningful way.   Given the special nature of this kind of work, meetings may be arranged, as needed, with different combinations of family members at various times (parents alone, a mother and daughter, children individually, siblings together, or whole family meetings), and may take the form of consultations, discussions, play sessions, and even whole family therapeutic art activities.


The death of a loved one can be one of the most intense and difficult experiences any of us will face.   Grief has the potential to connect us with others or to keep us profoundly isolated.  And while grief and mourning are natural responses to death, it often happens that we can become stuck and need help to understand the full nature and meaning of our loss.   When the death is sudden, or after an especially hard illness — we may need help to understand what has happened, and its meaning in our lives.    I offer a range of services, from one-time consultations, to a short series of sessions, to a more open-ended grief-focused psychotherapy, to help in understanding the depth and breadth of loss and to help you in your mourning process.


The death of a parent, sibling, or beloved relative is a potentially traumatic event in the life of a child.  And yet, it is possible to help your child grieve in a way that will not leave them stuck, and help your family move forward in your lives together.  I am available to help you help your child through this time — in parent meetings or a series of individual or family play sessions.

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