BUC Health Ministries Department Launches Bereavement Care Ministry
12th July 2019
"……to comfort all that mourn;…." Isaiah 61:2
Do you have the skills to offer comfort to people who are mourning? This includes knowing what to say to someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one.
What effective and ongoing support can you give to someone going through bereavement?
How can our churches create a nurturing environment for those experiencing loss?
These were some of the questions that were answered at the British Union Conference (BUC) Wellness Retreat held 19-24 May 2019.
Why the need for a Bereavement Care Ministry?
From the moment we are born, we are taught how to live. We are not automatically taught how to prepare for death. Yet, because death is part of life, it is easy to assume that as Christians, our faith will always enable us to come to terms with this reality and subsequently allow us to emerge well from grief.
Death can bring about several complexities which can make the bereavement journey challenging, even for Christians. Supporting individuals facing these challenges is our business as a body of believers seeking to minister to the needs of its community. This includes 'coming alongside' those who grieve, so they do not feel they are left alone, by offering them support and encouragement.
In recognition of the challenges individuals sometimes encounter as they live through the loss of a loved one, the BUC Health Ministries Department has realised the importance of implementing a Bereavement Care Ministry to provide a support network for individuals and assist their grief recovery.
What does the Bereavement Care Ministry provide?
The main aim of the Bereavement Care Ministry is raising awareness of the Grief Process, understanding the wholistic implications and impact of grieving and how to offer support during bereavement. The ministry comes with a packaged training which includes workshops, seminars, interactive and reflective exercises and a resource pack.
The BUC launch event involved a full day's training which incorporated the following:
raising awareness of death and dying and its wider impact on the family and friends of the deceased,
encouraging the maintenance of well-being during bereavement,
recognising complications of grief,
referral to relevant agencies,
grief recovery resources.
One of the segments captioned: 'Common misconceptions of the dying process, death and mourning' yielded a lively discussion on what was 'helpful', 'harmful' or 'well- intentioned' when attempting to support someone who is grieving.
A powerful and moving aspect of the day was the experiential art psychotherapy group work which explored how to cope with unresolved and painful memories of bereavement. This was followed by a special prayer session for the bereaved and scheduled times for one to one counselling.
Each attendee was given a Bereavement Care Ministry pack, which entailed a variety of resources, such as Bereavement Support Networks, Bereavement help lines and websites, articles, leaflets and research findings on grief recovery. Also included were 'comfort' craft items, bereavement cards and other publications such as a small book entitled: C.O.M.F.O.R.T - Solace, Support and Strength during times of Grief authored by Sharon Platt-McDonald.
Bereavement Care Befrienders
As part of the BUC Bereavement Care Ministry launch, attendees were trained on how to become Bereavement Care Befrienders. They were provided with a role description which outlined the remit of the role, how to offer support during grief and what makes a good Bereavement Care Befriender. This included answers to the questions asked at the beginning of this article in addition to several other aspects of bereavement care.
BUC Bereavement Care Befriender Coordinators
Leading the training at the launch of the ministry were Seventh-day Adventist professionals ‒ Malaina Joseph Art Psychotherapist and Counsellor and Sharon Platt-McDonald who are the Bereavement Care Befriender Coordinators. Both have previously undertaken training in Grief Recovery.
Malaina and Sharon will be responsible for taking the ministry forward. Aspects of their role includes:
Overseeing Bereavement Care Befriender training.
Holding a central register of all Bereavement Care Befrienders.
Arranging and facilitating workshops for Bereavement Care Befrienders.
Providing Befrienders with regular communique, news, updates and useful information.
Providing advice and support to Bereavement Care Befrienders in their role.
Offering advice, training and support to local churches and communities wishing to implement a Bereavement Care Ministry.
The production of a BUC Bereavement Care Ministry Manual.
A day conference for Bereavement Care Befrienders.
Development of the current Bereavement Care Ministry pack for families who experience loss following violent crime.
Should you wish to register your church for Bereavement Care Ministry training, please ring the BUC on 01923 672251 and ask to be put through to the Health Ministries Department.
Please pray for the development of this ministry as we reach out with the compassion of Christ to those experiencing the pain of loss.
Sharon Platt-McDonald - BUC Director for Health, Women's Ministries and Adventist Community Services