Faith & Grief Ministries: Gathering, Storytelling, Healing

Funeral Industry News November 18, 2020
Faith & Grief

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Faith & Grief Ministries: Gathering, Storytelling, Healing

Connecting Directors thanks contributing author Emily Gehman for sharing her thoughts on this NFDA 2020 exhibitor!

Alice Court was angry.

Brendan Court, Alice’s son, had died. He was only 17.

At the very first Faith & Grief Luncheon in Dallas, Texas, on April 15, 2008 Alice shared her story. She explained the shock, confusion and anger of her loss to 67 people at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church.

Sharing her story was part of Alice’s healing, and it allowed listeners to not only support Alice in her grief, but also find hope for their own grief. It was the first event hosted by Faith & Grief Ministries, a brand new bereavement ministry intended to help families in the local community. It would not be the last.

Recognizing a Need for Faith & Grief

In 2007, Rev. Wendy Fenn and Rev. Dr. Fran Shelton both worked in Dallas-area Presbyterian churches and met through their care for grieving families. Together, the women had a vision for a greater impact in the community for the grieving. After the success of that first luncheon, they knew they must continue to give a place for people to share stories of healing from grief and comfort each other through life’s most difficult moments.

Wendy and Fran built Faith & Grief Ministries, a bereavement ministry based on the belief that faith is an important part of grieving. Other core beliefs, as they appear on their website, include:

  • Grief is both a leveler and uniter, bringing together persons from diverse faith traditions and backgrounds.
  • Personal stories possess the power to inspire and encourage.
  • The pain of grief is intense and lingering, calling for on-going support.
  • Table fellowship and the breaking of bread instills hope.

As death care professionals are keenly aware, feelings of grief and loss don’t end with disposition. While you provide as much support as possible, it’s difficult for directors to offer long-term care for every grieving family you serve.

Expanding Resources

Faith & Grief Program Director Shelley Craig was available at the NFDA 2020 convention to share more information about the organization’s offerings with attendees. As Craig explained to expo visitors, this multi-faith group has grown since that first meeting in Dallas, and now they want to partner with you to help you provide a continuum of care.

Since 2007, Faith & Grief has hosted over 800 luncheons to support those who grieve. The organization also offers monthly support gatherings as well as “Grief Talks” that offer help, tools and answers to questions about grieving. Multiple-session workshops, presented by Faith & Grief staff and board members, as well as field experts, give those who are grieving or care for the grieving extra help in navigating the grief journey. Faith & Grief also facilitates a monthly book club, focusing on and discussing memoirs and expert research works.

The Faith & Grief Memorial Arch stands in Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park as a reminder that grief is an ongoing experience. During the holiday season, mourners can remember and honor their lost loved ones by tying a ribbon to the arch.

Retreats are available throughout the year in Texas and North Carolina for those who may need just some time away from everyday life to begin or continue the grieving and healing journey.

In addition to all these resources, Faith & Grief offers a faith-based devotional as well as a podcast and other comforting resources to those who need it most.

Helping You Help Others

When you receive families into your care as they prepare to say goodbye to their loved ones, you’re not going it alone. Organizations like Faith & Grief Ministries are here to help you give your clients the best care they need in their most difficult moments.

And when your clients come to you and share their stories, know that by listening to them, you’re serving an important part of the process. There are more Alices whose stories must be shared — whose hope must be spread.