Expand the Reach of Your Parish Grief Ministry

Expand the Reach of Your Parish Grief Ministry

Scripture challenges us to care for those who are grieving, yet many of our parishes have limited resources committed to bereavement ministry. Why is this? Much can be attributed to a lack of knowledge or personal insecurity in guiding a family or individual after the death of a spouse, child, parent, or loved one. Bereavement ministry is not for everyone, but there are many members of the church community who do feel called to serve those who grieve. For those answering God’s vocation, there are a variety of resources available to help compensate for a knowledge gap. Here are some tips:

  1. Check with your diocesan office about becoming a minister of consolation. There is probably a training program in your backyard that you didn’t even know existed. 
  2. Network with other churches to share responsibilities. Don’t feel like you have to minister all by yourself. Form a bereavement committee made up of parishioners from your church cluster. The committee can then decide what programs are needed to best serve those who are grieving.
  3. Collaborate with existing agencies in your community. Most major cities have a dedicated bereavement center or a local hospice that already provides programs. Cultivate relationships with their program directors before referring families to any facility for services.
  4. Honor those who have died and gone before us. In November, the Church especially recognizes these souls. Host an annual memorial service this month for parishioners who have died during the past year.
  5. Teach the truths of our faith. Make sure you have trusted mentors in your parish who can provide encouraging words for those grieving and teach them the importance of the sacraments, prayer, and adoration.

Christi and Mark Tripodi founded Cornerstone of Hope, a comprehensive grief center in Cleveland, OH, after the sudden death of their son Bobby at age three. Cornerstone of Hope offers individual and group counseling, educational programs, and training for professionals and volunteers.