Seminary News

Seminary Student Develops Grief Program

Anne Parpas, who is pursuing a master’s degree in counseling at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, is working with the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital to expand their bereavement services program.

Parpas and Nancy Kingma, Bereavement Services Coordinator at the children’s hospital, are developing a specific type of parental grief education support group for parents who have lost a child.

“This is not a therapy group, and healing is slowly and gently promoted as the parent gains insight and understanding of the skills needed to navigate grief,” said Parpas.

This group will help to prevent negative impacts that can add to the trauma and assist parents in the grieving process by allowing them to just ‘be present’ in a safe learning environment and not feel pressured to engage in dialogue like a therapy group, said Parpas.

“Grief recovery begins with educating people about the impact of overwhelming life experiences,” she said. “Reducing the aftereffects of a traumatic loss will help parents and families live longer, more productively and less stressfully.”

The format of the group includes education, the learning of a coping skill or technique, and some time for the parents to connect after the session is over.

Parpas is excited to begin a five-session group in June.

“We are looking forward to seeing how this new group can make a difference in the lives of these parents who have suffered such tragic loss,” she said. “If the group goes well and is successful, HDVCH will be providing this group various times over the course of the year.”

Parpas, who has worked at the hospital since January for her practicum and internship, has enjoyed this opportunity to build the program from the ground up, with Kingma’s supervision, she said.

She plans to graduate from GRTS in May 2013.

“GRTS has made such an amazing impact in my life and has helped me grow not just intellectually but spiritually,” she said. “With the biblical foundation that GRTS provides, I am becoming better prepared to guide those who are hurting and in need of direction in body, mind and spirit. And for that, I will be forever grateful.”

In addition, Parpas also founded The Lydian Spirit, a ministry to prevent violence and disrespect among all ages and in all environments.

After experiencing 10 years of physical and verbal abuse in her marriage, Parpas found a way out through Safe Haven Ministries in Grand Rapids where she began her healing process.

She has a passion for marriages and families to survive crises and grow. Through her ministries she hopes to bring healing and support.

For more information about the counseling program at GRTS, visit