We honor our losses & navigate grief with compassion.
Founded by Sheri Khan, LCPC, our Chicago-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization is dedicated to providing compassionate support to individuals, families, and communities. We offer a range of educational programs and support services to help people navigate the challenging journey of loss.
Our initiatives are built on the fundamental belief that everyone encounters loss in their lives, and many can find solace and healing through targeted grief support. We also extend our resources to professionals seeking to enhance their understanding and expertise in grief counseling.
While the non-profit designation was officially approved in 2021, Sheri Khan has worked with fellow grievers since 2013 after the tragic loss of her daughter, Sofia. It is in Sofia’s honor that Sheri earned her counselor degree and license in 2018 and is now a practicing clinical therapist.
Sofia died in 2010 when she was 9 years old. Her family was on vacation near Holland, Wisconsin when Sofia drowned in Lake Michigan during a kayaking accident. Sofia’s body was never recovered; the U.S. Coast Guard and four separate dive teams heroically searched for her. All to no avail.
What one mother’s grief can teach us about responding to Chicago’s heartbreaking violence
Purple coneflowers grow in Sofia Khan Garden, tucked away in the corner of Haas Park in Logan Square. (Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)
We educate individuals and professionals on loss and grief. Whether you are a griever, supporting a grieving friend, a professional counselor working with grievers, or all three, our resources are available to you.
Sheri has conducted grief education presentations to Chicago Public School teachers and counselors and the Illinois School Counselor Association and is available to speak at your community event. She has also worked with employers experiencing loss within their environments and conducted numerous grief support webinars during the pandemic.
Thank you for your patience as we work to shift our existing material to this website. Coming soon!
We will have our numerous support articles available to you soon again including worksheets, journal prompts, and activities to help on your journey.
We will have our presentations, grief support curriculum, and more available to you soon again! Here's our 5 week Grief Group intro as an example.
Loss & Grief Support
Chicago Public Schools
As an LCPC (Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor), Sheri Khan works with adults experiencing grief, anxiety, depression, anxiety, and changes and challenges. She works with clients, providing support and guidance in her down-to-earth, relatable style. A highly skilled, compassionate, empathetic, and solutions-focused therapist, Sheri is an effective motivator, communicator, and fierce advocate.
If you are interested in therapy services, please reach out.
And, if you are a therapist interested in offering grief support, we welcome your expertise. Please get in touch.
Individual therapy services are offered through The Healing Compass PLLC. A sliding scale fee may be available through The Grief Compass NFP.
Smiles are for Free is our community-focused project offering outreach in our Chicago communities. Please consider a generous tax-deductible donation to help us with our outreach projects.
The story behind the name…. Sofia regularly attended her big brothers’ basketball games at St. Helen School in Chicago and loved to help at the concession stand. During one game, on the concession stand’s whiteboard menu, she added “Smiles are for free!” We are frequently reminded of Sofia’s joyful spirit and her belief that just a smile can do so much. It is with that spirit that we offer these outreach events.
Honoring those we have lost is empowering and creates a space for healing. We gather as a community to both support one another and honor our loved ones at Sofia’s Garden in Haas Park. This ceremony is family-friendly and children are encouraged to attend. The ways in which we remember, and honor are so deeply important to our own healing.
In this ceremony, we gather as a community to honor those who have died. This community-based support helps create a space for healing and empowers us to share our grief because truly we can help one another carry its weight.
In 2019, we wrote our loved one’s names and messages on strips of cloth and placed them high in the garden tree’s branches where they remain visible today.
In 2018, after a ritual of walking around the garden’s small, beautiful path, attendees were invited to share names and stories of their loved ones as chose. We wrote messages on river rocks and buried them in the garden where they remain today.
Back to School Drives
In 2019 we served over 50 kiddos and families in our first back-to-school drive at Haas Park. Each child received their choice of backpack to fill with school supplies. Our friends at Hairitics Dye for your Beliefs were on hand to offer back-to-school haircuts, and Wendy’s served us ice cream.
The Pandemic derailed our 2020 drive a bit, so we gave backpacks directly to a local school.
In 2021, we partnered with Westown Feeds and gave over 150 backpacks and school supplies along with free food, an ice cream truck, and live music.
We took a break in 2022 and will be back summer of 2023.
Sofia Khan Garden
Sofia’s Garden is located on the southwest corner of Chicago’s Haas Park in the Logan Square neighborhood. It was envisioned and created by Joe Henry, Haas Park longtime supervisor, and Haas Park Advisory Council leaders including Bridget Montgomery and Tony Porfirio.
Journalist Heidi Stevens wrote about the Garden in 2018 soon after the dedication ceremony. She writes, the Garden, “bears the name of a girl who used to play there, back when there was no soccer field. Back when a baseball diamond took up most of the play space and home plate sat in that same southwest corner, the one where purple coneflowers and blue lupine plants now grow.”
While the Garden is named for Sofia and originally created in her remembrance, we very much want this space to be for the Community! Truly, there is no person unimpacted by loss, and when we can learn about Grief, we learn to make space for it… and for healing.