The Benefits of Bereavement Ministry

premium website buildersThe passing away of a loved one brings uncertainties and distractions in our life. Our peace is disturbed. We need someone to talk to, someone who listens, and someone to whom we can vent our feelings. Bereavement support guides the bereaved through the period of time after losing someone. During this time, grieving (reacting to the loss), and mourning (adapting to the loss), occur.

Grief support groups come in a variety of natures and scopes. Sometimes they are specific to a type of loss or tragedy. They can be less specific, as well. Sometimes sessions are led by a licensed therapist or counselor, or by a religious leader. Sometimes a trained volunteer leads the group. Regardless, the loss of a loved one is the shared experience that brings the group together.

I am sure there is a good number of benefits one can get from taking part in a bereavement support group. Allow me to mention a few:

Finding hope: Grief distracts and disturbs our focus in life. It is a journey, with diversions and straight paths, starts, yields, and stops. People sometimes lose hope amidst the experience of misery and angst. While no two experiences are the same, there is a shared experience of loss. Gathering in a group allows people who are early in their journey to connect with those who are much further along. Meeting with and talking to others who have experienced a similar loss shows that it’s possible to feel joy again. For those further along in their healing process, sharing such reassurance can provide important affirmation to themselves, and confirm that the group is a helpful resource for others.

You are not alone: One of the significant benefits of a grief support group is the reminder that you are not alone. Grieving can be terribly lonely and isolating, especially when everyone around you seems to be “getting on with their lives.” By attending a support group after the death of someone loved, you may find that other people have experiences, feelings, and struggles that are similar to your own. When your grief is overwhelming, there are people who may simply say, “We’ve been there. We all can make it through this.” This is a commanding claim at a precarious and desperate time.

Varied insights: While there are no replicated or identical grief experiences, the grief events can be similar. Those who have experienced a similar loss may have valuable advice and suggestions, critical insights, or a different outlook to share. These may not be the exact answers you are looking for. With listening and learning, you may come away with some useful perspectives for your own journey through grief. We may learn new ways to approach, and calm, our strong emotional feelings through sharing with others who are bereaved.

Give what you receive: Sharing empathy with others grounds people with a sense of purpose and meaning. This altruism can serve as a helpful tool in the healing process. When you participate in a support group for the death of a spouse, you’ll receive advice, but you may also share your story and inspire others, too. Often we don’t realize how far along on our own journey we truly are until we guide and support someone on her or his journey. We give what we receive.

A sense of belonging: We, as humans, have an innate need to belong, to be part of a community or group. This survival instinct has served us well for thousands of years. Indeed, studies show that a sense of belonging can contribute to our overall happiness. Following a loss, you may feel alone or left out, and different than others because of your grief. Finding a group that understands and accepts you can be an important step in your healing. No one wants to be in the grief club, but once you’re in the club, you may find comfort in surrounding yourself with other members. This sense of belonging can revive lost hope.

When the new SNSW Bereavement Group was still a conceived thought and plan, being the organizer, I prayed for even just three members to begin. God is indeed gracious that he blessed the group with seven seeds to start the ministry. In our first meeting, I realized that God didn’t give me ordinary seeds but seeds ready to sprout. The group is blessed with members who are very qualified to journey with the grief-stricken. The ministry is still in its infancy period but is ready and willing to serve in the best, yet most humble way. Those who would like to participate in the SNSW Bereavement Group can contact me at michael.p.gazzingan@dsj.org or call 650-948-2158 x 2088.