Pastoral Care Training Pack

Unit 5: Grief - Jesus Wept

5.1       Scripture & Worship



Heavenly Father, who made us all your children so that we might please you, sustain us with the fervent hope of our reunion with you, enfolded back into the perfection of your love; and, armed with that hope, may we serve those who are stricken with such grief that they forget your purpose; may we offer true consolation to the them, honouring their grief and loss; and may we help them to love this life again, in harmony with your creation, in imitation of Jesus, your son, and within the good comfort of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Can: Heavenly Father
Res: You have brought life out of death.

  1. Heavenly Father, we pray for all those who have died, particularly those who have died alone and without hope; may they be the chief beneficiaries of your unbounded mercy:
  2. Heavenly Father, help all those who are bereaved to pass from their vale of tears into green pastures where their love of your creation may be restored; and help us to be patient listeners and guides as we journey with them:
  3. Heavenly Father, give strength and comfort to those whose grief drives them to reject you; help us to be firm but gentle advocates of the hope lived out in the death and Resurrection of your son, our Saviour Jesus Christ:
  4. Heavenly Father, look kindly on the lives of those who seem to have failed and count them as your saints; help us to learn from Our Blessed Lady, the Virgin Mother of God:
  5. Heavenly Father, help us to make the Church the family of your grace; help us to make room for all who seek you, no matter how tentatively:
  6. Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gifts of harmony, solidarity and empathy; open our hearts that our hospitality may reflect the total hospitality of your kingdom:
  7. Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of life and the gift of hope; help us to see these as your blessings and not our rights and, through your grace, may we impart the sense of your love to those we serve.

5.2       Introduction

Although we are Easter children, we live in the shadow of the Cross and so, for the Christian, the reality of death is fused with the reality of eternal life. Yet death itself can seriously unbalance these two elements so that grief becomes over-powering. In this state most people want comfort rather than theology, the assurance that, whatever the life record, the deceased is safe with God; and the kind of advice they want is likely to be practical. Although Jesus trusted in the Father he was grieved at the death of Lazarus and in raising the son of the Widow of Nain to life, he recognised the ravages of grief.

In this Unit we will consider:

The outcomes we hope to achieve are:

5.3       Key Concepts

  1. Grief is the suffering of keen distress whose cause (in this context) cannot be reversed and can only be mitigated by stressing positive aspects of a situation.
  2. Consolation is the introduction of the favourable traits and actions of the deceased; and sensitive reference to Christian hope.
  3. The 'Grief Journey' - classically sequenced as numbness, yearning, depression & resolution - may take other forms; or it may be arrested at the numbness stage, inducing denial. The journey through grief may be very long and complex; and if it appears to be short and simple, the person providing care should beware.
  4. Death is always deeply personal and unique; the person providing care should be even more careful than usual to refer the bereaved to the Team Leader.
  5. Helpful strategies include:
    • Sensitive Visiting;
    • Constructive listening;
    • Broadening the grief discourse and helping the speaker to discover the positive;
    • Honouring tears, fears and anger;
    • Offering unfussy, practical choices and advice.
  6. Unhelpful Strategies
    • Coarse evangelising;
    • Usurping the Priest;
    • Commenting intrusively on the deceased;
    • Talking too much;
    • Theorising about grief.

5.4       Presentation

5.5       Case Sketches

  1. Amy dies unbaptised, four days after her birth.
  2. Joe is killed in a road accident on his way to primary school.
  3. Sandra believes in keeping a stiff upper lip when her beloved husband dies.
  4. Months after her death, Simon will talk of nothing else.
  5. Sally, a Churchwarden, commits suicide.

5.6       Response

5.7       Resources