Death is part of life. Usually, there is time to process the death of a loved one before another family member or close friend dies. But sometimes, multiple deaths occur close together, leaving no time to appropriately grieve each loss. This is known as cumulative grief and can leave a person feeling anxious, devastated, exhausted, overwhelmed, and sometimes, hopeless.
That is how Kelly felt after losing 16 loved ones in just four years.
“It was a very dark time,” said Kelly. “I felt so much isolation. I got to the point I just didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts. I knew I needed to talk about the losses and how they affected me, and I knew I needed to have my feelings validated.”
That’s when Kelly, a wife, mother of three and grandmother of two who has been attending WCC for close to 30 years, reached out to Stephen Ministry.
“My first encounter with my Stephen Minister was wonderful,” said Kelly. “We connected immediately. Her spirit reminded me of a treasured godly aunt. She always seemed to have the perfect words to say, and she took time to pray over me and faithfully prayed for me when we were apart. Her prayers were like a warm blanket over my soul, and they brought comfort to my wounded heart. Just to hear her pray words I couldn’t meant the world to me.”
Kelly and her Stephen Minister connected weekly at first, then biweekly, sometimes meeting in person and other times connecting over the phone. As their time together was winding down, Kelly’s mother contracted COVID—and eventually died from it.
“After my mother died, we extended our time together so my caregiver could walk alongside me during this fresh grief journey,” said Kelly. “I saw how having a Stephen Minister as I was grieving my mother’s death made a difference. I wish I had had one when my losses began.”
Kelly says her Stephen Minister more than met her expectations.
“People can find a safe harbor in the presence of a Stephen Minister who will honor both their vulnerability and resilience,” said Kelly. “It felt good to sort through things and just connect with another person. My Stephen Minister always answered my texts and sent such encouraging and uplifting words. I had hoped for someone who was a good listener and had a heart of compassion, and I got her. She validated my questions, concerns and feelings. We have since moved on as friends, but today I treasure her beyond words.”
Although Stephen Ministry care is completely confidential, Kelly felt the need to share her story.
“Grief carries a certain amount of isolation, and then COVID brought even more isolation,” said Kelly. “I realized during my time with my Stephen Minister how valuable it was to hear a kind voice and see kind eyes and remember how special physical hugs felt. I knew I needed to step out in faith and trust God’s spirit to use me and my story for his glory and honor and to maybe help someone else who is going through a similar situation. I love that when I am weak, He is strong.
“I absolutely love the beauty of Stephen Ministry care,” Kelly concluded. “The ministers simply walk alongside you during a difficult time in your life. They do not state their opinions, fix anything or solve problems. They are simply an ear, a shoulder, a hug, a voice, a faithful prayer warrior with a heart that listens, ponders and prays.”
To request a Stephen Minister or learn more about the ministry, contact Nate Metler at 574-268-0188, Ext. 218.