The Coronavirus pandemic has led to many thousands of deaths, in addition to the usual 600,000 per annum across the UK. There will be very many people - perhaps as many as 10 million - who will be grieving at this time, either the loss of someone from Covid-19 or another cause during this period, or they will still be grieving someone from before, many of whom will find their pain opened up by the current situation. Much of this grief will be complicated alongside the usual support structures being restricted.
Since the pain of bereavement tends to become acute once the reality has sunk in (often a few weeks or months after the death) bereavement charities are expecting ‘a tsunami of grief’ over forthcoming months, which there is not the capacity to deal with. There is concern that without support now bereaved people will face a large number of potential negative outcomes, including mental health issues now or in the future.
Churches developing support and reaching out to bereaved people in their locality over the coming weeks and months could not be more important. We have therefore been working hard to enable churches to offer The Bereavement Journey course for bereaved people online over the Summer period and in an ongoing way into the Autumn. The Bereavement Journey is a tried and tested 6 Session course using films and discussion which help guide people through the most common aspects of grief. It is for anyone who has been bereaved at any time, and offers an optional session 6 with the Christian perspective to commonly asked faith questions by bereaved people, alongside the 5 main sessions, which have no Christian content. It is therefore suitable for people of any faith or no faith and ideal for Churches wishing to reach out to their communities with hope. See www.thebereavementjourney.org
The course has recently been tried online at Holy Trinity Brompton and is now available with additional guidelines for running the course virtually. We have also developed a range of online training to help churches and have a dedicated Project Leader to provide advice and support.
We want to encourage churches across the UK to offer online The Bereavement Journey courses over the summer period and for courses to continue running (whether online or face-to-face) into the Autumn, so that the bereaved across our nation can find help and hope in the Church. We will provide as much help and information as we can to facilitate churches to do so.
Below is an outline of what churches will need to do if they engage with this project, along with the support we can provide.
Please contact email@example.com for more information.
What will churches need to do?
· Plan to offer their online course (6 weekly sessions) to bereaved people in their locality (city or county) by the end of August.
· Be willing to engage in the free training opportunities provided (see below).
· Be willing to have their course advertised by us to the public.
· Expect to continue running The Bereavement Journey courses face-to-face regularly once social restrictions end, although online courses may also be needed for some while.
For the course itself:
· Obtain the new Leaders’ Course Pack and other materials if desired from thebereavementjourney.org
· Have suitable online booking and delivery platforms (we can advise) and be prepared to advertise their course for people to book from their city or county area.
· Appoint a Main Course Leader to organise and host the Sessions. This needs to be someone with experience or understanding of bereavement.
· Find a technical person to manage the technical hosting. This person needs to have good internet supply.
· Find caring volunteers to facilitate discussion groups. 2 per group of 8 guests ideally people with bereavement experience, but this is not essential.
· Find a qualified counsellor from your church community who is willing to advise the group leaders and give pastoral oversight. If this is not possible, The Association of Christian Counsellors have offered to help find someone for you.
How can Loss and HOPE help?
· We will supply an Additional Online Leaders’ Guide with our learning from trying the course online at Holy Trinity Brompton. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the latest copy.
· We will provide you with technical and other assistance.
· We have a range of free online training which will be available over the next few weeks including:
1. Bereavement Care Awareness webinars – for church leaders, course leaders and all those wanting to be involved in helping with the course – whether online or face-to-face, to understand how to support the bereaved.
2. Filmed Online briefing for course teams, on the practicalities of running the 6 sessions and group discussion leading.
3. Technical training for online course teams (filmed and webinar)
4. Bereavement Friendly Church webinars – for main church leaders/decision makers to consider their church’s accessibility to the bereaved once social restrictions are over.
5. ListeningPeople webinars – in supporting children and young people through loss.
See HERE for details of these and more training opportunities.
This website will also provide a developing number of resources to help you with supporting the bereaved.