A Place to Grieve - Issue #144
Zachary United Methodist Church in Zachary, Louisiana believes being in ministry with people who are grieving the death of a loved one is important. They know that in our "get-over-it" and "move-on-with life" culture, many try to comfort by providing simple platitudes instead of listening deeply to the concerns and questions of the grieving person.
During the first year following the death, the church provides Stephen Ministries grief materials to family members. Each person is also invited to become part of the bereavement support group that meets two evenings a month. Facilitated by a pastor and a licensed professional counselor, the group offers offers a safe, supportive environment for participants to talk about their concerns, struggles, fears, pain, and grief.
As the only bereavement support group within 35 miles, church members as well as other members from the community find the small group experience to be both comforting and healing. Some join the group immediately after the death and others come after some time has passed. Recently the church has begun a morning support group specifically for widows and widowers, many of whom are older and unable to drive at night.
Each meeting includes a brief devotion and prayer along with resource information on a bereavement related issue. In addition, people have an opportunity to discuss their journey with other members of the group as they work through the pain of the loss and adjust to the change in their lives.
Questions for Discussion
How does your congregation help people in your church and in your community deal with issues of grief and loss?
Death often brings to the forefront questions about the meaning of life and the nature of God. What settings are available in your congregation to help people deal with these issues in a deep and authentic way?
How might your congregation need to change, if it were to be known as the place in the community where people experience hope and healing in times of grief?