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Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. — 2 Corinthians 13:4

Grief and loss are something most of us don’t like to talk about but it touches each and everyone of us sooner or later.
Grief is not a disease or mental illness, but rather a natural part of the human condition and natural life cycle. It is not a personal weakness, a personality flaw, a mental illness or punishment. It is not an aberration.
As a life experience, grief can be best described as a distinct cluster of common emotional, physical, social and spiritual reactions to loss. To normalize grief in no way diminishes how traumatic a loss can be for the griever. Rather, it says that we can identify with each other as human beings who all struggle with the death of a loved one and that, as part of a human and spiritual community, we can join together and help one another with this struggle. The closer the attachment the more painful the grief.
Because we are a community who serves each other, St. Thomas has added more bereavement programs. In addition to the luncheon, there is now a Bereavement Team who helps both English speaking and Hispanic speaking families plan funeral liturgies. We attend to the family on the day of the funeral as well. Scriptural reading and choices of music are provided. If a prayer/Rosary service is requested we have both English and Hispanic speaking Acolytes . If a luncheon is desired we contact the appropriate people. The musicians are called upon. When the family leaves the planning session they can attend to their immediate needs, knowing that everything for the funeral is in order.
A program is made for the funeral with a picture of the deceased or a special poem. A Flocknote is sent out to parishioners who have signed up to receive Flocknotes, with written permission of the family. This is done so as a Church family we can support the bereaved by our presence at the prayer service and/or funeral and by our prayers. The Flocknote states the name of the deceased, the funeral home, the time of a prayer/Rosary service, the time of the funeral. A Bereavement Packet is given for the family at the funeral planning.
Acolytes serve the funeral and also a prayer/Rosary service.
After the funeral the Bereavement Team member keeps in contact with the family, if desired. “Wings of Hope”, a bi-monthly grief Support group is offered. A flyer is enclosed or can be found in the Narthex Hall which gives the dates and topics for the meetings. A small talk is given and then open for sharing. It is open to anyone from our church or outside the church. Your grief may be new or in the past. We welcome all, English or Hispanic speaking grievers.
“Wings of Hope” has “ground rules”. What is shared there stays there. It is a safe place to share your loss and experience. We don’t try to stop the tears or give advice. A lending library is being developed. The book titles vary according to type of loss. Knowledge is power. To realize your feelings are “normal” gives you hope. We try to discover who we are now without our loved one. It is a redefinition of our selves.
Our objective is to support those suffering from difficult losses through our presence, our listening and our prayers. Because we are a bi-lingual community we hope to address each need.
In addition to the above, you are welcome to plan your own funeral liturgy so that family/ relatives don’t have that last-minute task.
Also, one on one is available if that be your need.

For further information please contact Kathy Skipper (716) 912-4232.

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