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Brighter Days Family Grief Center

Hope Begins Here

Brighter Days Family Grief Center is the only family grief center in Minnesota supporting grievers of all ages. The Eden Prairie non-profit provides free grief support programs to children, young adults and adults who are grieving the terminal diagnosis or death of a family member. Brighter Days uses a holistic model of care that focuses on the logistical, psychosocial and financial aspects of grief. 

Carolyn Kinzel, founder and president, started Brighter Days after many years of researching grief centers in other states. Her own life experiences, both personal and professional, inspired her to base the center’s mission on the entire grief experience rather than just the emotional component. “We assist with the oftentimes overwhelming logistics surrounding loss,” said Carolyn. “We can help with Social Security, life insurance, closing accounts and probate questions. We additionally support people’s psychosocial needs by connecting them to others who have shared similar experiences. Just knowing that someone else understands what you’re going through can help with so many aspects of the grief process.”

Brighter Days has served well over 6,000 people thanks to their strong partnerships with Minnesota hospitals, hospices and mental health organizations. Their signature program, Embrace-A-Family, is a community-based fund that has gifted more than $50,000 in financial assistance to grieving individuals. Sometimes groceries or gift cards for gas and meals can mean everything to someone who is overwhelmed by the unexpected financial burdens a death can bring.

“Brighter Days is a family grief center because we believe every family member needs and deserves support that feels comfortable for them,” said Carolyn. “Each person’s relationship with their loved one was different, and each person’s grief is unique, so it’s important to offer different types of support. Grief counseling, support groups, wellness workshops, retreats and camps are among the many kinds to choose from.”

Brighter Days acquired Youth Grief Services from M Health Fairview in 2020. The renowned program includes Camp Erin, a weekend getaway where kids just get to be kids alongside peers who have experienced similar losses. “They learn how to balance joy and sorrow; that there’s neither shame in laughing nor crying after losing a loved one,” said Carolyn. “When we witness the transformation that happens as they realize they’re no longer alone, it’s incredibly fulfilling. These kids receive the support and acceptance they need to keep pressing forward. More than anything else, they gain hope, and that is the beauty in our mission.”

With the overwhelming number of calls the center receives each month, they intend to expand by building a 15,000-square-foot Grief and Wellness Center in the Twin Cities. “We have some of the best care centers in the world for causes that are near and dear to so many of us,” said Carolyn. “Minneapolis Heart Institute, Hazelden, Mayo Clinic and Masonic Cancer Center to name a few. All of these centers are state-of-the-art spaces for people to receive care. How are we missing the one space for people who lose someone to one of these causes? Until we opened our doors in 2017, it simply didn’t exist, but we have outgrown our space twice already. It is essential for us to build a large enough space where grievers from all over the state can come to connect with others, gain support and education, and ultimately heal.” 

Brighter Days Family Grief Center is located at 15764 Venture Lane in Eden Prairie. You may contact the center at (952) 303-3873, or visit

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