Document by methyae


…a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry." Luke 7: 11-13 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Rm 12:15

Bereavement – the state of suffering at the loss of a loved one by death (Webster) Because of the generous hearts of the membership of the (name of church) we have seen abundant support and financial giving to meet the needs of those in difficult circumstances in the congregation. In spite of this outpouring it has become clear recently that not every financial hardship should be handled by the benevolence ministry of the church. This is particularly true with the loss of a loved one by one of our members. Special care and training is needed to help those members deal with their grief and heartache usually in difficult circumstances. It is for that reason that the Bereavement Ministry is being started. Although this ministry is in its early stages, we will strive to learn and grow from God’s word, from one another, and from outside resources so that hearts will heal and our grieving members will be taken care of.

As a member of the Bereavement Ministry please take note of the following:
Requirements for joining or staying in the Ministry: o Must be an active member of the Church for over one year. o Must have had some experience dealing with personal loss and grief in your own life. o Must be emotionally mature and able to handle stressful situations. o Must be recommended by Church leadership o Must be willing to attend one Bereavement Ministry meeting a year. o Must be willing to participate in one or more outside trainings. o Must read required books. Special Sensitivities: The loss of a loved one is very traumatic in most cases. It is also one of the most unpredictable times in a person’s life. It is for that reason that we as responders need to exercise the utmost sensitivity. It is not only important that we do the required reading and attend the outside trainings required to be in this ministry, but that we also have the emotional maturity to handle these difficult times. Knowing what to say, and often what not to say is very important. We must also realize that we will not only be dealing with the bereaved member, but very often members of their family as well as professionals surrounding the death. You are not only a brother or sister in Christ to the suffering member, but also an ambassador of the Church. We should not take our responsibilities lightly. Although we should make every effort to respond to the call of the grieving


member, we must also not allow our own personal struggles and difficulties cloud the issues. If you ever feel that you are not emotionally in a good enough place to minister to the needy member then contact the staff leader in your region so another responder can be directed to take charge. This may be especially true if you were particularly close to the person who passed. We should never add our personal issues to the situation that we are called to serve in. Dealing with Death: The definition of bereavement involves not only a loss, but in particular death. Although much of our outside training and reading involves many aspects of the grieving process, the Bereavement Ministry does not have the resources to deal with the many members that are grieving various losses that don’t involve death (i.e. loss of a relationship, divorce, life issues etc). We will focus our training and efforts on those who are dealing with heartache because of a deceased family member or loved one. Resources: All members of this ministry are required to take a course on Grief Counseling. There are various opportunities during the year and plans can be made by various members to go together. Since some courses have registration cost, check with church leadership in advance to see if the church can cover the expense. There are also two books that we are using for our training: “Good Grief” by Granger E. Westberg, 1962. This book is not only to be read by you, but also given to those who are grieving. It is kept in stock at the church office. “The Grief Recovery Handbook” – revised edition 1998, by John W. James, and Russell Friedman. This book will be our basic text and should be read by all in the ministry. We will discuss these readings during our meetings together as well as other useful books and seminars. Extended Family Issues: In the case of the loss of immediate family (spouse, child, parent, step-parent, siblings or step-siblings), the call for support is usually very clear. The issue of the loss of extended family members (grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins or non-related care givers) is more complicated. It will be your call as the responder to determine how much support is needed (both emotional and financial). It is not always the case that more support is better since some need space and a quiet time of reflection during the grief process. On the other hand some are quickly hurt if they feel that their pain has been passed over and that members of the church don’t care. We must also keep in mind that the members of the Church are good hearted and want to support needs in the fellowship, but also have busy lives and can not support every loss in the congregation equally. It will be up to you to determine the amount of care and balance needed and set the stage accordingly. Loss of a Child through Miscarriage:


The death of a child, even if unborn, is especially traumatic. The issue of miscarriage has often been overlooked in our fellowship and many couples have suffered with very little support. It will be up to you to determine how much space the couple needs, while at the same time making sure they feel supported. Some couples desire to move ahead quietly, while others feel the need to grieve publicly and sometimes have a funeral service. Both options are acceptable and we should show our support in both cases. Hardship Cases: One of your responsibilities will be to determine if the member is undergoing a financial hardship to cover the cost of the loss of the loved one. Starting in 2008 the Church will have a separate Bereavement Ministry budget. This budget will have a set amount of money to cover the needs for that year. It is up to us as a church to help out when necessary, but at the same time not extend the offer of financial assistance when not needed. This will be your call as a Responder. If a balanced approach is taken then there will be more money available for those truly needy cases. Money is likely the most sensitive issue that you will deal with and stands the chance of causing hurt feelings and misunderstandings if not handled correctly. Guidelines from the policy are as follows: In Hardship Cases a. $500 will be available if needed to the hardship case. $250 of that amount will be available up front for immediate needs, the other $250 will be held in reserve for unforeseen cost (minor items at repast etc.) The $250 should be your offer to the needy member as soon as it becomes clear that finances are an issue. Don’t suggest the additional $250 until you have a better feel for the needs in total. In most hardship cases it should be gladly received with little additional expectation. b. The Church Board has decided to limit the total amount for hardship cases to $500 per hardship cases (not per member). This is available upon request from the responder and does not need additional approval from the Board. No additional funding is available per hardship case from the Church but funds can be sought on a regional level if necessary. Sending Flowers: Flowers should be sent to all cases (not just hardship) when an immediate family member of a Church member passes away (unless you as a responder have determined otherwise). It will be up to you the responder to determine if there is a need to send flowers to extended family (to what extent is being reviewed by the leadership). It is also up to you to determine if it would be better to send flowers to the funeral, or to the home of the Church member. You must also contact the church office in a timely manner with all the details regarding delivery (name of deceased properly spelled, proper address, time and date of delivery etc.). Contact the office during regular hours (610-677-2100), or contact one of the Elder’s wives during off hours.


Providing Emotional Care: With each case that you as a Responder takes on, it is up to you to maintain appropriate contact. This starts with the initial call after learning of the death. This is followed with a face-to-face meeting that is primarily arranged to show love and support from you and the church. If emotions are running high, this is not the time to be “business like” or ask too many questions. There will be other opportunities for gathering information later. In the days and weeks to follow, timely calls and visits are important. Sometimes you will also need to meet with other family members and help out with arrangements. If you need help regarding funeral arrangements, you can consult with Church Staff. As the member goes through the grief process, they may rely on you to be there for them and often just listen to the feelings that they are going through. These are also good times to pray together and read scripture. It is up to you to gauge how much time is needed with each case. It is required that, six weeks after the funeral, you set up a final visit to make sure the member is recovering from the loss and able to move ahead with their life. If you determine that the member is not making good progress, please alert the appropriate ministry leaders to the situation. After consulting with the staff it may be necessary to recommend outside counseling. References for Christian counseling can be obtained from Church staff members. In some cases, funding for a set number of appointments can be offered. Appropriate Terminology: Very often the biggest question in a bereavement situation is “Why”? It is important that we avoid the temptation to go into long discourses using theology and personal opinions. It is important during these times that we learn to say with complete compassion “I don’t know”, because that is often the right answer. We should also avoid statements like “I understand what you are going through” though we might have experienced a similar situation. The fact of the matter is that we really don’t know what they are going through and it is important to get them to talk about it and explain their feelings when they are ready to talk. Spiritual Issues: In some cases you’ll be dealing with the loss of a loved one where the member knows that the person had not responded to the gospel and is not in a saved state. This can be one of the most agonizing aspects of loss for a disciple. The spiritual issues can be dealt with at another time (usually months after the death). When emotions are running high, a discussion regarding the spiritual state of the deceased is generally inappropriate. Simple statements like, “Leave it with God”, “There’s nothing more you can do now”, or “We can talk about this another time”, are more advisable than getting into a scriptural discussion about the deceased’s spiritual state. Communication: You will be the primary provider of information to the congregation regarding the member’s loss. Once you hear of the death, it is up to you to make sure it gets listed in the newsletter. If the deadline has passed for the newsletter, then you need to make sure it is announced at the appropriate service (Sunday, or Midweek). Once other details are


definite, (funeral arrangements, memorial service etc.) you must also make sure these get listed in the newsletter or announced. Maps to various locations are also helpful. Showing Support: Another role that you have is getting a feel for the support that the member will receive at the funeral. If the sense is that not many are planning to attend (and you have determined that this would hurt the member) it will be important to get in touch with individuals, FGL’s and staff to try and rally the troops and show support. Food: One of the loving gestures that impacts the grieving is the providing of food. This has been a strength of the Church members. Meals brought to the household during the early days of grief are tremendously helpful. Also a team that provides the meal for the wake or repast is a tremendous blessing during this difficult time. It is your responsibility to make sure that food is provided to the appropriate gatherings. This can usually be achieved within the region or by various FOCUS Groups. There is no additional funding for this expense. Planning the Funeral: Once a funeral home has been secured then many of the details begin to fall in place. Most well established homes provide many services and are prepared to take care of the many details necessary (notification, printing, transportation, internment, meeting facility etc.) If a church building is sought for the funeral then the Church staff can offer suggestions but no guarantees with the buildings that we use. It is important that you do not overstep your bounds in the area of arranging the funeral service since very often the family takes care of this responsibility and desire very little outside influence. On the other hand the Church staff is willing to help with the order of service and other responsibilities as needed. It should be clear that ministers and song leaders of the Church do not usually do services for those who were not members of the Church, even if they are the direct family to a member. It is at the discretion of the ministers and song leaders whether they are available to be involved in the service. Cultural Differences: It is important to be aware that dealing with death involves cultural traditions that we need to be very sensitive to. Although we are all “one in Christ”, we need to also strive to meet the needs of family and loved ones that may have various feelings about the way things should be done. Seeking advice from our staff and leadership will in many situations avoid awkward moments and hurt feelings among those who are already dealing with emotional stress.

Final Report: As a part of the Bereavement Ministry we ask that you fill out a one-page report when you have your last time with the member. This will help us to evaluate our approach to


this ministry and make necessary adjustments to better meet needs. Please mail a completed form to the Church office and keep a copy for your records and future meeting. This should be done as soon as you have completed your final time with the member. You will be contacted 6 – 8 weeks after the report is turned in with a follow up reminder so you can touch base with the bereaved member.

Thank you for your service to God and this ministry of the Church.

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled "Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" John 11:33-36

Date: ________



Bereaved Member’s Name: ____________________________________ Deceased Name:
Relationship to member: ____________________________________ spouse / child / parent / step-parent / sibling step-sibling / grandparent / uncle / aunt cousin / other ________________________

Responder(s) Name(s): ____________________________________ Region (Member’s): E / NJ / CW / N / C & T Date of death ____________ Date of Funeral __________ Were flowers sent? Yes / No Outside counseling needed? Yes / No Book “Good Grief” given out? Yes / No Did you have your 6 wk. final visit? Yes / No Was it determined that this is a hardship case? If yes, then why? Yes / No

Besides for flowers, were other Church funds used? If yes, then for what? How much was spent?

Yes / No

Final Review, Comments, and Concerns (on back if needed).

Keep a copy for yourself and mail this form to: Church One Bala Avenue, Suite LL10 Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

Attn. Walter Evans











Notify Regional Staff of the situation and details when you first receive the news. Make it clear that you are heading up the outreach so that there is no confusion regarding who is in charge. Make initial call to bereaved member as soon as possible to provide comfort and support. Set up first visit at this time. Notify any other Church members (FGL, Elders etc.) that are close to the bereaved member to let them know you are handling the situation and what they can do to help. Meeting with the bereaved member for first time: (in person) a. Primary Goal – provide comfort and show compassion, if not appropriate other issues can wait to next meeting. b. Determine if there is a hardship case and what financial needs there might be. (see Church Policy) Set up additional meetings as needed. During these times determine: a. Funeral plans – when, location, help with program (see staff). b. Travel plans – who can go with the member if needed. c. Flowers – where to be sent d. How much additional support is going to be needed. Meals to be arranged. Brought to the home, and /or following the funeral. Communication: Newsletter and pulpit announcements regarding prayer request and funeral arrangements. Flowers to be sent. Contact Church office ASAP, 610 677-2100, and give delivery address and date to be delivered. Provide Book “Good Grief” Offer of Grief Counseling. Arrangements can be made through the church in extreme cases. Phone contact. The day after the funeral and occasionally over the next few weeks.



Final Review. Fill out one page form and mail to Church office. This should be done shortly following the funeral. Keep a copy in your folder to review later. You will be contacted 6 – 8 weeks for a follow up time with the member.


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