Heidi Gessner

I am the palliative care chaplain and bereavement coordinator of University of North Carolina Hospitals, a level one trauma center. As the bereavement coordinator, my main priority is connecting with the family members who have had a loved one die in the hospital. My specialty is connecting with these family members, staff, as well as community members, and helping them feel they are not alone. For in my deepest suffering after my father died, I experienced the presence of Love. I was so overwhelmed by this sense of a benevolent Presence, it changed the course of my life. The awareness of being cared for and connected to something bigger than myself came suddenly for me, and helped me harness the transformational power of loss. Through workshops, talk and writing grief groups, as well as workshops, I now creatively cultivate hope, nurture growth, and encourage people to be good stewards of their grief, and to learn from it when they are ready. In addition to her chaplain duties, Heidi is the Bereavement Coordinator for UNC Hospitals. She developed and created UNC Hospital Bereavement Support Services as a Chaplain Resident with goal of attending to the emotional pain that is the result of loss and death. Heidi oversees the program and manages day-to-day operations, which includes developing and providing packets of grief information for families at time of death, corresponding with families for one year after a death of their loved one, organizing and facilitating seven week sessions of Grief Recovery Support Groups three times annually. She coordinates Grief Awareness Week activities within the hospital and in the community to express solidarity and increase knowledge of the grief process. She also advises and collaborates with community organizations on grief education.



Don’t the Dead Take their Time Leaving?, 23 Sep 2018

Father’s Death Helps Woman Find God and Vocation, 31 Jul 2011