Comforting Those Who Mourn

Comforting Those Who Mourn

by the Rev. Margaret M. Grayden, Deacon, St. Martin's, Davis

The social stigma of bereavement is very real. Both in my work as a hospice bereavement specialist and in my ministry at the Episcopal Church of St. Martin's in Davis, I hear the bereaved speak of the pain of not being "seen" by others. Friends and colleagues avoid them.It is as if bereavement is somehow contagious. As a society, we seem to believe that grief is something to be "gotten over" and "moved beyond" or that it can be compartmentalized and "dealt with" during the three-day bereavement leave that is still the norm in this country. This flies in the face of decades of clinical research, showing that the period of active grieving for most people extends for months, and sometimes even years, beyond the date of loss.

My diaconal call is to bring the Light of Christ into the darkness of grief, and to comfort those who mourn. Grief ministry is diaconal ministry because the bereaved are all too often marginalized in our society, and treated as "the other." What can we do to combat the stigma of bereavement? As individuals, we can listen with compassion to the bereaved when they share their stories of loss. You never know when an opportunity for such "holy listening" will present itself--it could be at church, at work, during a volunteer activity or even in a supermarket checkout line. As congregations, we can offer grief support through such programs as Stephen Ministry and Living Compass. We can also create worship opportunities in which grieving people can gain comfort and supports, such as the annual Blue Christmas service that St. Martin's hosts. Click here to learn more about this service.

If you would like more information about starting a grief ministry, please contact me via email at or via phone at 530-756-0444.


1 comment (Add your own)

1. Renee Crevelli wrote:
Just saw this article, Margaret. Very important topic that is a often a difficult one to address. We are blessed to have you in the communities of Davis and St. Martin's.

Sat, December 20, 2014 @ 10:02 PM

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