Those who Morn: Bereaving a Suicide, Bereaving a Murder, Pastoral Funeral Preparation
1 Peter 4:12-13
Beloved, do not be surprised at the bfiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you ashare the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the brevelation of His glory cyou may rejoice with exultation. (NASU)
I. Comforting those Bereaving a Suicide Victim
"Suicide" is defined as "the death of a person caused by that person taking their life and engaging in an act or activity that cause cessation of life to occur.
` The person who ultimately committed suicide for reasons stated or unstated in a suicide note (if one is written) at some point became so distraught, so disappointed, and disgusted with themselves and the affairs of their life. They reached a critical point in life that they lost all hope of a better life situation and coundn't see any more reason to continue living. They believed the one who claim to love them let them down and did them wrong when they should have helped them. As an act of hopelessness and/or a means to punish the ones they feel wronged them in some way, the person will do such dramatic acts like put a loaded gun to their head and pull the trigger, jump off a bridge overpass unto a crowded highway, take a drug overdose, intentionally crash their vehicle at a high rate of speed and many others. They want the survivors to feel that they had the last laugh and took control of thier lives is such a way that nobody will ever hurt them again .
Ways to minister to the bereaved that are the survivors of the deceased:
A. Avoid Passing Judgment.
When counseling or talking to the bereaved, avoid passing judgment upon the deceased by the attempt of giving simplistic explanations as to why the person took their own life. Suicide is a complexed act and in truth only God really knows why it took place. It is better to leave it in God’s hands for explanations and judgments.
B. Minister thru the Word of God.
The pastor should apply God’s truths found in the Word and minister them to the hearts of the survivors, doing all that he can not to avoid the fact the death was a suicide. The pastor must never use a “fantasy” approach when dealing with their grief but deal with their hurts and despondencies realistically and with sincerity.
C. Shepherd the Bereaved.
The pastor must minister to them as a loving shepherd, being careful to refer to all who bereave as “we” and not they or you if the suicide act is mentioned, even if the deceased was not a member of the pastor’s church. The pastor is to avoid any appearance of passing judgment either on the deceased or those who survive them.
D. Be Led bt the Holy Spirit.
The pastor must become an interpreter who can give meaning and insight into a difficult situation, even if he can’t fully explain what actually happened or why it happened. The focus of the funeral and the funeral message should be on the good aspects of the deceased life, those things that are worth remembering. This may require the pastor examining every song that will be song and each scripture that will be read publicly.
II. Comforting Those who Bereave a Murder Victim
Great care must must be taken by the pastor toward those who mourn the death of a murdered love one. the following are 3 short tips to consider:
A. Remember that those who mourn are in a state of shock.
The pastor must deal with those who mourn in the way that ministers to their shock, resulting from the way their love one died and their feeling of perplexity over the whole matter. They will have questions as to why God allowed this tragedy and heinous act to happen to a member of their family.
B. The funeral service must be a place for healing.
The pastor must not allow the funeral service to become a forum or a place to air grievances as to why there is so much evil in the world or the province of God. His goal should be to reiterate that tragedies do happen and can happen to any of us, but God is a healer and can give healing and hope beyond any tragedy anyone of us may face.
C. Avoid the "Blame Game"
The pastor in his eulogy of the deceased must not pass judgment upon anyone, but must be careful to examine himself and compel those who grieve to do the same thing while remaining here to live beyond the death of the murdered person and do all they can not to blame God for any reason or place any blame upon any of the victims.
III. Funeral Preparation
There are several things a pastor can do in the wake of preparation for a funeral:
A. Make Contact with the Bereaved family.
As soon as possible, make contact with the bereaved family get as much personal information from them on the deceased if the deceased was not a member of the church where that pastor serves. Make sure all the information you get on the deceased is accurate, consulting the funeral home and or/ knowledgeable member of that family to verify all information gathered.
B. Make Visitation.
Make visitations with the bereaved family. Be a listening ear gaining insight through their conversations about the deceased. Test the spirits and attitudes of those gathered at the home of the bereaved. If the bereaved are not church members or if the deceased had no church membership, find out through spiritual discernment the following: Are they sympathetic towards the church and the gospel? Do they consider the pastor an intruder? Are they “worldly people with little or no values, or they interested in spiritual things? Are any of them saved? This will give him some indication as to how the church should proceed. Convey that the church is supportive and also in mourning with them and offer any assistance you can in helping them deal with the grieving process.
C. Find out what kind of funeral service is desired from whoever’s in charge of making the arrangements.
Sometimes, in the case of a saved person, the deceasd will have shared some ideas to the family in whole or in part of the type of funeral service they wish to have in the event of their untimely death. The family member in charge of making the funeral arraingments will have made notes on the types and name of songs, special soloists, specific people given permission to give remarks, or have determined that both the pastor and the church will be needed to assist them in the homegoing program. The pastor should find out what type of assistance will bve need for from the church and by his or herself.
The moree prepared the pastor or minister is in reponding to the needs of the grieving family, the more effective they can be in helping people who are in mourning get through the process of confronting and getting past their grief.