Project Documents

Date of Award

1994

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

James J. North, Jr.

Second Advisor

Norman K. Miles

Third Advisor

Walter B. T. Douglas

Abstract

This project attempts to develop and implement a grief support group for the Toronto East Seventh-day Adventist Church. Several theories of grief, both within and outside of the SDA Church, are briefly explored. The intent is to derive an understanding of the dynamics of the grief encounter. The research shows that in the context of grief, one of the best methods for resolving the pain and trauma of grief is to attend a grief support group. Our contemporary society shuns openness of expression with regard to grief. Society also imposes on the bereaved a limited time period to get over one's grief. However, grievers learn from experience that one does not get over grief; rather with God's help, they go through the encounter. From a theological perspective, the Bible is replete with model mourners. In the Old Testament, Job demonstrates that the experience of suffering or grief is not the result of one's wickedness. In the New Testament, Jesus Himself models that it is acceptable to weep. In John 11:35 the Bible records: "Jesus wept." The best news of the New Testament is that the second coming of Christ and the resurrection is the ultimate source of permanent comfort for today's grievers. Ten grieving individuals of the Toronto East SDA Church founded and formed a grief support group. For six consecutive weeks they met and (1) processed their grief pains, and (2) acquired insights on being caregivers to other grievers. The evaluation by the support group members revealed that they received much benefit in being able to look back at their losses and realistically come to terms "with the finality and reality of death," as one griever put it. The findings of this project suggest that the church and the pastors must become proactive in seeking creative ways of providing support groups for hurting grievers within their communities. It is anticipated that the Seventh-day Adventist Church in particular will become motivated in providing ministry to the bereaved by (1) offering more support to the bereaved, (2) seeking to establish support groups for those who are having difficulty in accepting the reality of their loss, and (3) offering help to re-invest in new relationships, new dreams, new activities, and new aspirations.

Subject Area

Grief therapy, Pastoral counseling, Bereavement--Psychological aspects

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