For those who have experienced great loss or traumatic situations, finding comfort and support within the Church is a ray of light amidst the darkness of grief. The grieving members of our community are often searching for answers, understanding, and healing. The search for understanding of Christian suffering is one that we each experience on the journey of life, both in our own personal relationship with Christ and part of our road to heaven. The answers to the questions of suffering can only be found in God. For members of the Bereavement Ministry, they hope and pray that in writing letters and cards to those who have lost a loved one, they can give comfort to those who seek it.
“When someone has suffered a loss, your faith is comforting because we believe in the Resurrection and we have hope that we will see our loved ones again,” says Rita Reid, who coordinates this ministry with her husband, Bob. “However, there is still pain and loneliness, especially in that first year as we experience those first milestones without that person there. I think it is so crucial to make sure that people know that they are remembered in their suffering.”
The volunteers of this ministry reach out to the close family member of someone who has died and write cards and letters to them through the first year after that person’s passing. The cards and letters are sent at times like holidays, birthdays, and the anniversary of their passing when the person’s presence is greatly missed. The same person writes to the family member for the whole year.
“The parish is where your faith support comes from,” Rita says. “Having this connection to the parish is so important.”
When funeral arrangements are made in the parish, the office staff reaches out to Rita and Bob with the information that they need — who the family member is, the birthday and death day of the person who has passed, and the link to the obituary if available. They put together the folders with the information, as well as stationery and cards for the volunteer in the ministry. They also include tips or quotes that the volunteers can use in their writing.
“It is pretty simple for us to make the connections with the funerals that take place in our parish,” Rita says. “But we are really hoping to expand to parishioners who have lost a close loved one, such as an adult child, or other family member, but the funeral didn’t take place here. They are still grieving and we want them to know that the parish remembers them as well. However, it is more difficult to put those pieces into place when the funeral doesn’t take place here.”
Those who have lost a loved one in these circumstances or other parishioners who know of people who have lost someone are encouraged to reach out to the parish office so that the connections can be made and the parish is able to support those who are grieving through this ministry.
New members of the Bereavement Ministry are always welcome. The ministry currently has about twenty volunteers, of whom typically always have a family that they are writing to. Taking the time to reach out with a simple card or letter is a practical and kind way to walk with our fellow parishioners through their grief.
“The families are always appreciative to those who write to them,” Rita says. “It is very well received. I’ve had people write back to me and other volunteers have as well. They are grateful to be remembered during these times when grief can be so hard.”
If you or someone you know has lost a loved one and would benefit from this ministry, please contact the parish office, 913-432-4616. To serve with the ministry, contact Bob and Rita Reid at firstname.lastname@example.org.