This line from the poem of the same name, by Stevie Smith, will be familiar to many and rouses a thought-provoking image. The Archdiocesan Family Life Commission, strive in their work, to spot when the people we meet are ‘drowning and not waving’. There are many aspects to this work because, in truth, our Family Life Ministry covers all aspects of life; Is there anything that you can think of that would not come under the umbrella term of Family Life? Bereavement Support forms one part of our work, in which we try to accompany people in what perhaps will be one of the darkest times of their lives. All life is a gift from God, each member of our family, our friends and, indeed strangers, are all gifts to be treasured; each one, with all their faults and failings is a precious and unique gift. When we lose a loved one, as indeed we all will, it is natural to feel robbed or angry, or as though God has forgotten us, and that he does not see our pain. Grief can overtake our world and become all-consuming in our lives. But God has a plan for each one of us, he has mapped out unique path down which we must travel. It doesn’t do for us to compare our path with someone else’s, as there are no two paths the same.
The ministry of walking with the bereaved is a call from God, God loves each one of us so much and calls us to be of service to others, to each other: Christ came into this world to serve, not to be served. If we look at the astonishing work of Francis of Assisi, he used the word “Servant” over and over again. In all aspects of our ministry we try to keep this in our minds because it is by being “servants”, that we discover what God wants from each of us. Together in this way, we are building the Kingdom of God, hoping, that as servants, we can face whatever God is calling us to do and to be. There is a joy in service to others, though we don’t always know what to do or what to say or how to handle a situation. We are to serve in faith! DO NOT BE AFRAID is the instruction given to us so many times. God shows us that joy consists of complete selflessness and this can only be experienced when we are face to face with our fellow human beings, especially during the often-darkest times of their lives.
Many of our parishes, across our Archdiocese, have established Bereavement Support Groups, some of which have existed for many years. Due to the nature of this ministry, there is a continuing need, and we constantly require the service of these people, who give their time so freely, to walk with the bereaved on their personal journey. In order to sustain these existing groups and also enable new ones to develop, we are once again asking people to come forward and to respond to God’s call to serve others.
The Family Life Commission runs initial training courses, for those interested in Bereavement Support, as well as providing on-going development training for those already involved.
Our Forthcoming events;
1. Bereavement Support Teams Gathering Saturday 8th June Pastoral Resource Centre from 10.30 until 3.30.
This event hopes to provide those already members of a group or those thinking of joining a group the opportunity to discuss and share with other groups in the Archdiocese. In the morning there will be an input from Papyrus, on the Awareness and Prevention of Young Suicide.
2. Bereavement Support Training Day: Saturday 6th July Pastoral Resource Centre from 10.30 until 3.30.
This one-day course aims to equip those interested in joining an existing group or setting up a new one, with some insight into Bereavement Support and demonstrate how parish bereavement support groups can be set up and managed.
It would be wonderful to have a Bereavement Support group in every Parish of our Archdiocese.
To book places or to find out more details please contact the Family Life Commission via email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 02920 365964
Family Life Commission Chair, Ansti Corellis