Loss is a part of human life and the response to loss
is the painful experience we call sorrowing, mourning, or
grieving. The more we value what was lost, the greater the
intensity of the grief. The death of a family member or
close friend is one of the greatest losses we experience in
life and often results in a grief which is overwhelming and
frightening in its intensity and duration. Those who mourn
experience a number of different feelings, some of which may
include sadness, anger, guilt, depression, loneliness, lack
of control, uncertainty, fear, hope, peace, and love. The
barrage of often conflicting feelings is confusing and
disturbing, leading the person to question her/his sanity.
During such times those who mourn need another person or
persons to walk with them in their sorrow, someone to
listen, to reassure, to affirm, to simply be present to them
on their journey through death and grief to the resurrection
of new life and hope.
The parish to which I belong does not have a ministry
to the grieving. I intend to use the BeFriender Ministry
model to establish such a ministry. BeFriender Ministry is
a ministry of presence rather than a ministry of doing.
BeFriender Ministry provides a training program for ministry
of presence in a series of lessons which are grounded in a
sense of God's call and a theology of lay ministry which is
rooted in our baptismal call and imaged by the body of
Christ, of which each person is an integral and unique part.
The lessons begin and end with prayer and include the theological bases of ministry, issues of confidentiality,
listening skills, an overview of a visit, self-awareness,
self-emptying in preparation for a visit, loss and grief,
aging, and spiritual resources. The life experiences of the
ministers play an integral role in the sharing and learning.
A model of ministerial reflection for ongoing supervision
and learning and a faith reflection model are also part of
the initial and the continuing educational processes.