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The Bereavement Journey

I have been involved in running The Bereavement Journey course since 2020 and have taken three online courses (during Covid) and three face-to-face courses at St Edmund's Church, the last one being earlier this year.

I meet so many bereaved and hurting people and it is wonderful to be able to offer such a good, sensible and sensitive course that can really help them understand their bereavement, accept their loss and begin their journey to move forward into a different time in their lives with the possibility of incorporating their grief and living well once again.

In my experience you need a small group of pastorally-sensitive people (perhaps from your pastoral team) to run a course, to pray together and also to support each other through the course. You need one person to lead the course and one facilitator for each small discussion group in the group time. I would say that around six people in a group is about right so try not to have many more than that in one group.

The thirty-five people who have attended the courses that I have run have all found the course helpful (as I have said it is an excellent course) but what they have often found, perhaps the most helpful, is the relationships that they make during the course with others who are also grieving and who they can share their experiences with. There are some people, sometimes the whole group, (from at least four of the groups taken) who have continued to meet regularly to continue supporting each other following the course and some have made some really good new friends.

Until 2022 St Edmund's, Crickhowell was the only church in the whole of Wales running the course, but now the course is getting known, there are others from other denominations also taking it here. It is much needed. I can recommend the course to all churches who are able to facilitate it and have seen the impact that it has made on those who have undertaken the course. It is a form of outreach to those in our grieving society and is a gift that the church can offer unconditionally to anyone. It has however also helped many in our church family and also brought several back into contact with the church who are now worshiping with us.

Katy Tutt, manager of The Bereavement Journey, is very supportive should you need anything at all, and if you are considering offering bereavement care within your community – this is the way forward.

Rev'd Sally Rees, Bishop's Officer for Older People's Ministry

We are really pleased to offer an opportunity to churches in Wales and around the UK to partner with us and join the now over 200 other churches in supporting bereaved people. The updated The Bereavement Journey programme was already proving to be a success, but it has now been further improved and is even more reflective of the range of bereavement stories. You can see the 3-minute promotional video here https://vimeo.com/825029365

My role in the series of films is to interview the two main contributors, Revd Canon Yvonne Richmond Tulloch and Jane Oundjian MBE, the founder of the course. Yvonne founded AtaLoss – a charity providing the UK's Bereavement Signposting website and equipping churches in effective bereavement support - following the sudden death of her husband in 2008, when she was Canon for Mission at Coventry Cathedral. The charity aims to ensure all bereaved people find support and wellbeing, to address the growing issue of grief, underlying many of society’s problems, not least of all mental ill-health.

The Bereavement Journey, the main focus of the charity’s church project, Loss and HOPE, is a 7 sessioned grief support resource of films and discussion, much like the Alpha course. A central online course offers support to bereaved people across the UK whilst training potential leaders, and churches of every denomination are increasingly running the course in person or online for bereaved people in their communities.

Feedback has found:

  • Around 80% of guests attending from outside church (including confident referrals from GPs, social prescribers and funeral directors)
  • Over 90% of those guests choosing to attend the optional end session on faith, and
  • Guests from outside the Church beginning to engage with faith and attending church activities.

The renewed The Bereavement Journey includes a leaders’ pack, new films, promotional materials, guest manuals and updates for much greater diversity and accessibility, making it helpful for anyone bereaved at any time and in any context. Already packaged it is now even easier for churches to use with everything provided, including step-by-step instructions and a new registration process to ensure consistency.

Topics include:

  • Attachment, separation and loss
  • The impact and pain of bereavement
  • Anger and guilt
  • Coping with others’ reactions
  • Adjusting to change
  • Delayed and suppressed grief
  • Moving forward healthily

Any bereaved person can access the next online national course run over seven consecutive Thursdays is due to be held between 8th June – 20th July 2023, 7:30-9:30pm. To book a place please click here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-bereavement-journey-june-july-2023-run-by-ataloss-for-htb-tickets-529325947157

Reverend Cassius Francis is the Church Trainer & Resourcer with Loss and HOPE, a coalition project of AtaLoss, equipping churches in bereavement support, and he is a minister with the Wesleyan Holiness Church.

Please contact Katy Tutt katy@lossandhope.org for further information