Homepage | Academics | Grad Cert Bereavement: Trauma, Loss and Grief

Why Study Bereavement, Trauma, and Loss at Madonna University?

  • Gain knowledge of the latest theory and an understanding of unique aspects of grief counseling
  • Develop specific skills involving integrative treatment modalities
  • Remain current on research and trends related to trauma, loss and grief
  • Learn from faculty members who are experts in the field
  • Learn from anywhere you have an internet connection – you can complete this degree in the classroom or 100% online

Recommended for professionals who wish to enhances their skills as licensed counselors/therapists, or to supplement an existing degree in health and human services, this certificate serves as a tool kit for those working with grieving individuals and families who have experienced traumatic loss or significant life-changing events, and need support and validation in the process of healing. The certificate counts as a cognate for students pursuing the master's degree in hospice and palliative studies at Madonna. If you have completed your bachelor's degree you may apply to earn this certificate through the Graduate School.

Our faculty who teach in this specialty area believe that the grieving process is adaptive, even transformative, and that with safety, validation, connection, and re-engagement with self and community, healing can begin.

Employment opportunities range from private practice entities or interdisciplinary team positions in hospice/palliative/end-of-life care settings, e.g., bereavement specialist, social worker, or chaplain, and family services agencies.


Ann Fitzsimons ('08)
Executive Director/Founder, Here4U, Inc.

Ann completed a Graduate Certificate in Bereavement at Madonna University, which included as part of its curriculum, specialized training in bereavement theory, assessment, counseling, and development of support programs for children, parents, and families. She uses this training in her educational efforts and work with healthcare professionals, families, and the community-at-large. This specialized education has been instrumental in her work for Here4U, Inc., and in service as a Board Member in related health care organizations locally and nationally.

Ann’s life was forever changed by the death of her 2-week-old niece in January, 2000. In honor of her niece she co-founded the non-profit corporation, Compassionate Passages, Inc., with the mission of being the “family voice” for supportive pediatric end-of-life care via advocacy, education, and research. This began a personal and professional journey of advocacy and consulting that brought her full circle to her current position as the Executive Director at Here4U, Inc.

"I was prompted to enroll in Madonna's Graduate Bereavement Certificate while volunteering in hospice pediatric palliative care, because I knew I needed credentials and the right mix of understanding about the grieving process for the work that I wanted to do. I found Madonna’s program to be extremely helpful in providing the foundational learning that I needed to be a respected colleague and peer on health care teams, and to be able to provide the needed support for families with a seriously-ill or dying child, or bereaved families. While life can be a difficult teacher, and I've survived many of my own personal losses which brought me to this program and this work in pediatric palliative/hospice care, supplementing it with the needed learning in theory and best practices in the field of grief and bereavement is incredibly important. I know how to be present and supportive during these times of loss, and I believe that having this certificate, as well as utilizing the insights garnered from the coursework, has opened many doors for me and will be instrumental in our work with providing support to families of medically-complex and dying children in our work with Here4U, Inc. Our goal is to create Southeast Michigan's first and only dedicated pediatric palliative/respite/hospice house for really, really sick kids in our area."

Kent Aughe

Kent Aughe '08
Where are you working now?
Chaplain, retired from Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, Senior-living and Health Care Communities Chaplain and Minister to seniors, Huntington Woods Lutheran Church, Huntington Woods, MI

How has your hospice degree helped you in your current work or related service role?
The interdisciplinary graduate certificate in Hospice and Palliative exposed me to some basic medical information (for us who are not medical professionals) that helped me assist and advocate for clients and family members who are navigating what is often a confusing health care system. I also took courses within the Pastoral/Spiritual Care Cognate that equips students to consider their own theology and philosophy of care, and better assisted me to counsel with clients and families to explore their own spirituality at the end of life.

The Certificate in Bereavement provided in-depth course work about classic and current grief theories and their application. This experience provided the tools for knowing about grief assessment and referral, program development for hospice bereavement programs, and very simply companioning others in their grief journey.

In thinking about your time at Madonna University, what are the highlights? What stands out for you? What did you like about being a student at Madonna?
Madonna professors and staff care about students and are always available for guidance. Small class size fosters one-to-one relationships with instructors and with other students. Course work is challenging and rewarding and is practical to real life-situations. The respectful, encouraging environment creates enthusiasm to grow both academically and professionally, all designed to serve clients and their families.