Matthew 5:4: Blessed are they who mourn; for they shall be comforted.
2 Corinthians 1:3-6
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. (NASU)
I. Bereavement Ministry.
Every Church Ministry should have a ministry designated to assist in bringing comfort to their members and to others in their communities who experience a loss of a family member or a love one that was an integral part of their lives. You may ask: why is such a ministry so important? Simply put in a nutshell, it’s needed! Whenever a death occurs, the survivors of that family, their friends, acquaintances and church members who had a relationship with the deceased on any level all will need added comfort, strength and support from the church, from each other, and from well wishers to move forward in life beyond the lost
If the church is truly to be a fellowship of Christian comfort to the bereaved and their family, there are at least 3 things the "bereaved" need to both know and be shown from all well wishers:
A. That someone really cares about them.
B. That someone is genuinely concerned about their lost and,
C. That someone has pledged to be a support, a blessing, constantly watch over them in brotherly love as they attempt to strive and move forward to live beyond their pain and sorrow and physical lost.
II. Putting Your Christianity to the Test.
When the Pastor or another child of God ministers and give assistance and aid to the bereaved family or individual member, they literally put their own Christian life and profession to the test. Let me explain.
The pastor and lay person make themselves vulnerable in front of the bereaved person in a waythat allows them to see that pastor or lay person in a different light beyond the scope of sunday morning at church. In this bereaved setting, the bereaved is allowed to see them" humanly” up close and personal. No matter how the person may have seen or viewed the Pastor or the lay person at church, This gives them an opportunity to see that the minister experiences sorrow as they tend to the bereaved in their sorrow, pain in their pain and beyond the personna as their pastor or as the lay person who ministered to them in their time of sorrow. The bereaved would want to and should see a pastor or minister who truly cares about them and what they are about, how he relates to them during the time of their lost and in the end, they will remember him for his sincere kindness, beyond any sermon he has preached in their hearing.
III. Becoming Vunerable to the Bereaved.
Every pastor must show their vulnerability to the congregation, or else, if not, they may be perceived as not being real and genuine. By being vulnerable in front of them, they must be willing to confess to the bereaved that there are some questions they will either have or ask that he doesn’t know the immediate answers to, and even experience feelings before them that he himself may not want to or is not ready to face. From the pastoral perspective, the Pastor must experience deeper depths of sorrow as well as higher heights of joy. They must become a good listener and know when to be silent when the bereaved are talking to him and when to talk to them as well. They must convey their love and concern as well as God’s love, concern and care for them.
IV. Becoming Part of the Answer, not the Problem.
It's very important in the grieving process the pastor must be part of the answer and not part of the problem.
For any pastor to be part of the answer, they must understand what the grief process is for each parishioner going through it and how he can effectively minister to each one experiencing sorrow. While he is not to attempt to shield anyone bereaved from the pains associated with bereavement, he is to make the sincere effort to encourage them to draw upon the strength found in all of God’s divine resources and use them to help the bereaved accept the grief they’re feeling in a mature manner. By using the grief process in an effective way, the people experiencing bereavement and grief should come out of the grieving process better people than before death and bereavement took place.
V. Reconizing the 8 "stages" of the Bereavement Process.
There are 8 known stages in the bereavement process. they are the following:
A. Shock or disbelief.
A person may not believe initially that the death of their love one has occurred unless it was expected due to a prolonged illness. There’s an “emotional” and physical numbness that will occur to a person when a love one dies. This is a normal stage experience triggered by our body’s nervous system. This is God’s way of giving “emotional” anesthesia to the now bereaved so they can face the reality of the death that just occurred and handle all of the difficulties ahead as a result of it. Shock can become an abnormality if the person stays in it too long and it will create other problems down the road.
B. Strong Emotion.
This bereavement stage can bring on a feeling of experiencing a broken heart and wanting to cry due to feeling deep sorrow. There’s nothing wrong with either of these feelings as long as the expressions of sorrow are not due to having no hope beyond bereaving. It is wrong theologically and psychologically if a pastor or counselor tries to get the bereaved person to refrain from crying. The bible is full of example where people cried in times of joy as well as in sorrow. Even Jesus wept at the graveside of Lazarus.
Depression occurs sometimes accompanied by a strong smothering feeling of loneliness. Depending on the person’s relationship to those left to mourn, their death may force those surviving to re-organize their lives because the loving relationship between them has been broken. There may also be an occurrence of insecure feelings, especially if the deceased was a spouse, a member of the immediate family. Sometimes, the bout with depression can trigger physical problems if it becomes a prolonged deep depression.
Fear causes a grieving person to have problems clearly concentrating and an inability to think straight. The person may become panic stricken and extremely fearful. Internally and externally, their world may seem to be falling apart.
A grieving person will may blame themselves over the death of their love one, especially if the person died because of a suicide. Guilt sometimes opens up old wounds and bad memories. There are times when the bereaved will only see the good in the deceased and ignore their bad points, but by doing this there is a tendency to focus on the negative aspects in their own lives while they are grieving.
A person experiencing anger in their time of bereavement may become resentful, hostile, and frustrated to the point that they will began to blame anyone from themselves to everyone else, including God and the deceased because their love one has died.
Remember: Rely on God in Ministering to Bereaving Families
It is of the utmost importance that no matter the experience of the Pastor, The Pastor must rely on the sufficiency that is in Jesus Christ and in the Word of God. His sufficiency should never be based upon his expertise, legal certifications, or pastoral experience in conducting funerals or dealing directly with previous grieving families. The reason why the pastor must rely on Christ and the Word of God is because each bereavement situation and the people’s reactions to each death will be different. This will be true even if there are familiar or simular emotional behaviors and grief expressions with a new family that occurred in previous funeral situations.