Saturday, 08 August 2020 Features


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Bethany Bereavement

All Saints Bethany Bereavement Support Group

In 2010 five parishioners were trained to set up a Bethany Bereavement support group in Ballymena.

What is Bethany Bereavement Support?

It is a parish based group ministry which aims to help those bereaved and grieving.  Support is offered on a one-to-one basis in the home, to groups in drop-in centres, by phone calls, by helping at funeral liturgies and remembrance services.  The distinctive features of Bethany are:

(i)    The group does not wait to be asked, but initiates contact with the grieving family.
(ii)    Every family is visited irrespective of religion, nationality or cause of death.  Usually one/two months have elapsed before visiting begins, and in the case of death by suicide it is up to six months. 
(iii)  The spiritual dimension of grief is recognised.

Where did Bethany originate?

It was Dr Elizabeth Kubler Ross who first documented the stages in the emotional responses to grief and loss.  Her research for her book 'On Death and Dying' was done, mainly, in Columbian Presbyterian Medical Centre, New York.  It was in that Centre that Fr Myles O'Reilly began working as a Chaplain in 1975.  He was greatly impressed by the care given to the dying there.  On his return to Ireland in 1982 he initiated retreats in Milltown Park entitled 'Death - a Christian Response'.  It was from those retreats that Bethany support groups were born.

The name Bethany was chosen because it was here that Jesus offered consolation to the grieving sisters (Jn 11), and here he was given a listening ear (Lk 10).

Today over ninety parishes in the Dubling diocese have a Bethany Bereavement group which provides the bereaved with an opportunity to talk in confidence to a trained listener.  These groups are seen as a community asset and, in the South, they can apply to the government for financial support.

In 2007 the first Bethany team was set up in the west of Ireland and in 2011 the Diocese of Down and Connor had three groups added to the list.  

Fr Delargy PP and Bishop Farquhar are keen to expand this ministry and would encourage anyone who feels they could do this rewarding work, to come forward by contacting a Bethany member on 078 4210 0060.

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