In a time when so much that we have taken to be our “normal” has been shaken and challenged, life can seem daunting. Church communities, meant to be a place of solace and strengthening, have had to weather the storm of this strange season of disconnectedness. Now that in-person meetings are starting again — albeit cautiously, it may be challenging to create the welcoming environment that existed prior to the pandemic. As Clarissa Moll points out, some churches may not seem like the most welcoming place — especially for those who are grieving.
While we may feel stretched beyond our usual capacity, more than ever, to live out our mandate as believers to love one another, we need to fight the urge to retreat back into isolation. We need to have the courage to meet others in their grieving and allow them the space and time to express it — without seeing it as a problem to be solved.
“In church, where I often felt like I no longer fit in, I had found renewed life among those unafraid to talk about dying,” says recently-widowed Clarissa Moll in a Christianity Today article titled Letting the Grief Come to Church..
“Making space for mourning will make our churches radically alternative cultures — places where bereaved will find deep understanding, empathy, and belonging, even beyond Covid-19,” Moll says.
If your desire is for your church to be a place where those who’ve suffered loss never feel like their grief is too much, or overwhelming, it may be helpful to equip yourself and those in the church who want to help shape this kind of culture, with tools.
Heartlines has produced a free resource on using story sharing to process aspects of grief and stress. Instead of putting the emphasis on needing to have the “right” response in every instance, this guide will teach you how to create a space where people can speak openly and safely, while being truly heard. This is one of the most powerful ways to support someone who is grieving.
- For questions on facilitating a story sharing process in your church to help those who are grieving process their loss, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
To download the story sharing guide to help others share and process their grief, visit: https://www.heartlines.org.za/wys/church/resources/story-sharing-and-grief