2 Welcome and housekeeping Health and safetyNo smokingToiletsMobile phonesBreaks/refreshments
3 Programme Informal and interactive Individual/pairs/small group/ large group workFast-paced – look back at your leisureEvaluation
4 Ground rules Respect each other’s opinions Confidentiality Listening TimekeepingLooking after yourselfHave fun!
5 Learning outcomes On completion of this training you will: Gain basic information of the impact bereavement has in people’s lives and the different ways in which individuals commonly respond.Have had the opportunity to reflect on your own experience of bereavement.Be able to identify the basic needs of bereaved people.Be able to identify key factors in providing effective support.
6 Learning outcomesBe able to identify the skills, structure and safeguards needed to provide appropriate levels of support to bereaved people within the context and boundaries of your church.Know the key questions to be addressed in considering whether it is appropriate for you/your church to support bereaved people.Gain information on models of bereavement support that churches can provide.Gain information for the range and types of bereavement support services available locally and nationally to be able to signpost bereaved people to them.
7 Key facts and figuresOver half a million people die in England each year, most of whom are over the age of 75.It is estimated that for each death some 2-8 people will be significantly affected by it.88% of funerals have some ‘religious’ content – although the number of secular funerals is increasing rapidly.The Church of England alone conducts funerals for over a third of those who die in England.It is likely that each year well over a million people who are significantly affected by bereavement are in contact with a church/Christian minister soon after their loss.
8 Key facts and figuresAs long as there is adequate support and information, most people (80-90%) cope well following the death of someone significant in their life.Bereaved people greatly benefit from the support and information that can be identified and provided by agencies involved at the time of bereavement.Information on the availability of bereavement support is not routinely given by funeral directors, registrars and NHS professionals – or churches.
9 Death and societyWhat changes do you think there have been in the way society deals with death, dying and bereavement over the last 100 years?Why do you think these changes have happened?How do you think these changes may have impacted the way the church deals with death, dying and bereaved people?What impact do you think these changes may have on bereaved people today?
10 Death and the ChurchSome churches can often just see their role as liaising with the family at the time of a bereavement and organising a funeral (together with the funeral director).Why should the church be offering more than this?How well equipped do you think the church in general is to go beyond a funeral and provide longer-term support?
11 Death and the church Surveys of bereaved people and church leaders. Responses from over 1000 church leaders.Many gave limited support around the time of the funeral or with an annual memorial service.Few did anything beyond this.Most wanted to do more but were limited because of lack of resources.Few knew much about the availability of bereavement support organisations or other resources.The most pressing needs were for information, resources and training.
12 Death and the Church Bear in mind that: Jesus wept with Lazarus’s family at his death (John 11) and was ‘filled with compassion’ at the grief of the Widow of Nain (Luke 7).The early church was greatly exercised to give support to widows and orphans (James 1).Throughout the Bible we hear that God’s heart goes out to those who are suffering, and seeks to bring comfort and restoration.Despite increasing secularisation, bereaved people seek out the church, even if they’ve had little contact previously.This gives the church an opportunity to demonstrate God’s care and compassion to the whole community.
13 Death and the ChurchA Biblical support model: “He who goes out, weeping, carrying seeds to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” Psalm 126 v6
14 Personal experiences and reactions to death Take some time to consider some of your own personal experiences and attitude to death.Then consider your personal reactions to loss.
15 The way people grieve Influencing factors: Quality and type of relationship with the person who has died.How, when and where the person died (e.g. sudden or expected, violent or peaceful).Age, gender, personality and level of understanding of the grieving person.Previous experience of significant loss.Cultural and religious beliefs and influences.Involvement in mourning rituals (e.g. viewing the body after death, attending the funeral).
16 The way people grieve Influencing factors: Family and social support network.Other concurrent stressors (e.g. responsibilities, relationships, financial).Upbringing (learnt behaviour).Level of support in previous losses.
17 Expressions of griefEmotional. Feelings such as shock, sadness, relief, guilt and anxiety.Physical. Reactions such as loss of appetite or comfort eating, tiredness, headaches, other aches and pains.Psychological. Including poor concentration, overwhelming thoughts and pre-occupation or avoidance of thinking about what has happened.Behavioural. Including crying, irritability, increase in risky behaviours such as driving fast or drinking heavily, withdrawal from friends and family.Spiritual. Such as questioning the meaning of life or finding comfort in their faith/losing faith.
18 Case studiesConsider the following case studies: 1) Tom and Kate 2) Ted and Anne
19 Support modelsA basic knowledge of support models is essential to support bereaved people on a more than friendship/social level.There is much research and many models – they do not predict what will happen and are just tools to help you understand what might be happening for a bereaved person and to give pointers for possible ways forward.Different models are likely to be more/less useful for different people and different situations.
20 The needs of bereaved people For their grief to be ‘normalised’.To understand a little more about the journey they are on and to be given strategies to help them while they are on it.To understand that their journey is unique to them, that they will get through (not over!) it and that there is no time limitTo feel understood, listened to and supported.To have the opportunity to explore spiritual issues.To know that there is hope for the future and that that there can be a new ‘normal’ life that is not the same as before, yet can still be good.To be given information on the availability of, and how to access, support services.Practical support – particularly in the days and weeks after the death.
21 What could churches do? Demonstrate they care. Help them to understand the bereavement journey.Let them know where they can get further support.Be there for them.Provide emotional support where appropriate.Provide appropriate spiritual support.Consider a range of other ways of giving support.
22 General principles of bereavement support Respect for the individual.Confidentiality (except where there is concern for safety of self and others).Recognising and acknowledging the loss.Providing timely information and appropriate support.Conducting conversations and meetings in an appropriate environment.Knowing where and when to signpost or refer on to another service.
23 General principles of bereavement support Working within the structure and limits set by your church.The ability to empathise. Empathy is the capacity to recognise or understand another's state of mind or emotion. It is often characterised as the ability to ‘put oneself into another's shoes’ and walk with them.The ability to communicate well, particularly in listening.The ability to not be affected personally (it is advisable to not be involved in actively supporting bereaved people if you’ve suffered a recent close bereavement yourself).
24 Effective communication Communication can be through what we say, how we say it and through other factors.What types of non-verbal communication might demonstrate that we care, that we understand and that we want to help?What sort of words might demonstrate that we care and could encourage the bereaved person to share openly?What sort of environment might help effective communication?
25 Responses to lossHow did people respond to a loss you have suffered? What people say and do can be comforting – but unfortunately may be hurtful and ill-considered as well.Unhelpful things that people can say:“I know exactly how you’re feeling.”“Time is a great healer.”“It’s a blessing in disguise.”“At least he/she got to live to be that age.”“Oh well, you’re young enough to have another child.”
26 Responses to loss Responses that are unhelpful for bereaved people: People not mentioning what has happened.People crossing the road to avoid speaking to you.People overwhelming you with their experiences of loss.Being told not to cry.Being told to get on with life.Being told to cheer up.Being expected to be back to normal after a couple of months.Quoting scripture out of context and in an insensitive way (e.g. Romans 8 v28).
27 Responses to loss More helpful comments and responses: “I’m sorry to hear about the death of your mother”.“I can’t imagine how you are feeling”.Allowing someone the space and time to be listened to.Remember: Saying something is nearly always better than saying nothing at all.
28 Dealing with strong emotions Case Study: Beth and MargaretHow would you cope with her expressions of emotion? What would you say? What would you do?Why do you think Beth may have these strong emotions? Why do you think she has expressed them?Why might bereaved people be angry – and who at?Why might bereaved people feel guilty?
29 Complex and complicated grief Complex and complicated grief features:Prolonged and intense yearning and longing for the person who has died.Recurrent intrusive and distressing thoughts.Difficulty concentrating and accepting what has happened.Difficulty moving beyond acute state of mourning.Feeling that life is now meaningless and holds no future happiness or satisfaction.
30 Complex and complicated grief Complex grief is more likely in these situations:The death of a child.Suicide.‘Lifestyle’ deaths – e.g. drugs.Sudden, traumatic death.Death of a relatively young person.Death where there is no body.Murder or manslaughter.Multiple bereavements.
31 DependencyThere are some circumstances and situations that may cause the bereaved person to become dependent on the supporter:Loneliness.Having ‘no-one else who understands’.Inability (or unwillingness) to cope with practical necessities.Emotional attachment.
32 Self-careCircumstances in which it would be advisable to take a break from bereavement support could include:Suffering a recent close bereavement (we may still be grieving ourselves and may not be in the best place to help.)Finding it increasingly difficult to ‘switch off’ after each session.Thinking that hearing the story again would be just too painful.Becoming more irritable with family and friends.Not sleeping well.
33 Structure and standards Churches providing bereavement support should:Be satisfied that the supporter has an appropriate level of personal skills.Be satisfied that the supporter has an appropriate level of knowledge.Be satisfied that the supporter has had appropriate training.
34 Structure and standards Churches providing bereavement support should:Put in place a supervisory structure to ensure both accountability and safety for the supporter and those supported.Be satisfied that their insurance covers them for the level of support required.Seek to comply with the UK Standards for Bereavement Care.
35 Bereavement and Care for the Family Comprehensive information about bereavement support services.Support for bereaved parents or those widowed young.Support for all areas of family life, including marriage and parenting.For more information visitFurther details of resources mentioned in this training are in the workbook.
Your consent to our cookies if you continue to use this website.