Ministry Offers a shoulder, and more, to the grieving
Kim Mulford – Keeping the Faith
I won’t rewrite this article in full because it touches on a lot of personal information about others who were involved and may not want their names put on social media at this time. I will quote from the article only specifics about “Sylvia’s Room”. The article begins telling the story of a woman who had just lost her husband. He passed away at home as was his wish.
“There were no tears from his wife, not yet. As her family members wondered who to call- 9-1-1? The police? An ambulance?— she was calm. As she had done during her husband’s illness, she called Deborah Karper, a friend and trained volunteer from her church’s new bereavement support ministry called Sylvia’s Room.
“She got everything in motion,” said (the widow), during a phone interview on what would have been her 27th wedding anniversary last week. “She called the pastor’s wife. We got a beautiful funeral home. I didn’t have to do anything. They picked me up and carried me through everything.”
Sylvia’s Room was launched in October as an outreach ministry of Green Grove Baptist Church, led by the Rev. George E. Holland, Sr., in West Berlin. Eight volunteers, called ‘roommates’ meet monthly with the Rev. Albert Griffin, an associate minister at Green Grove, who is also a certified hospice volunteer.
The volunteers are trained to recognize the states of the grieving process, the signs of severe grieving and how to help those in mourning.
The ministry is named for Sylvia Martin, a Green Grove congregant’s mother who died last year.
Volunteers are typically matched with families before the death of a loved one, and remain in frequent contact for 13 months after the death. The church also holds quarterly Sylvia’s Room seminars, inviting people to learn more about life insurance, hospice care, wills and other end-of-life concerns.
The ministry is open to assist anyone, not just church members, said Griffin.
“We believe that with this type of focus, we can help people transition through the grieving process in a more healthy way,” said Griffin.
Volunteering as a roommate is not an easy job, but it is rewarding, according to Karper.
The 57-year-old Atco woman is already familiar with grief. She lost her husband of 20 years to cancer four years ago. When she can, she shares what she has learned with the two women assigned to her.
“Basically, I have been mostly a shoulder to cry on,” said Karper. She reassures them they aren’t going crazy, that their feelings are natural. If a woman is having trouble sleeping at night, Karper tells her to start a journal and write down their thoughts. She is there to listen and to offer spiritual support.
“When they ask for prayer, I try to pray immediately,” said Karper.
Since her husband’s death, (the widow) and Karper talk even late at night. (The widow) is a mother of three—including a 13 year old who still lives at home— thinks God brought her to Green Grove because she would need its help after he husband’s passing.
“Deborah has gotten me through quite a few nights,” she said. “Shes been a blessing to me.”
Although Sylvia’s Room is now a ministry of individuals who take on the task willing and eager to be roommates to those who grieve the lost of a loved one. In 2003 I was widowed after almost twenty years of marriage, and in 2004 my current husband was widowed after 20 years of marriage. It is very hard to ask for comfort when your whole world shifts so dramatically. We both know what it is like to experience the lonely hours after the funeral or memorial service and everyone returns to their lives. A widowed individual is left to start life without their significant other; no matter how good or bad. The emptiness takes time to be refilled and with each person it is different.
No matter how long time passes; no matter if remarried or not; a widowed person carries their departed loved one with them always. Don’t find it strange. Take my word for it, this is a memory that will always stay with you.