When our love is not enough
What can clergy and church members do?
2. Making effective referrals
In your conversations with congregants, it will be important to consider the following:
- Examine your own beliefs and values about getting outside help and bereavement support and mental health services.
- Present it in a way that it is not a rejection, but loving support to enhance what you and the church can do.
- Normalize it. Many families need more help at this time
- Provide, if needed, the faith context for seeking services
- Give permission.
- If they need it, help them make the first call.
- Check in to see if it was ok or if they need another resource.
Part of your role as pastor is to protect your congregants and to make sure that they receive services that will be effective, respectful and culturally competent. Identify resources for bereavement counseling and mental health services in your community and learn about them. You will want to feel comfortable about referring your congregants, so it is important to learn about:
- How and if issues of faith are addressed in counseling and therapy.
- Experience and training to deal with issues of pregnancy loss and losing a baby.
- Experience and competency in serving African American families.
- The experiences that African American families of faith have had in working with them.
- If the resource is a clinic or agency, which counselors/therapists are effective in working with families like those in your congregation.
- The cost of services and payment options - private insurance, public insurance (Medicare and Medicaid), direct payment only from the family, sliding fee scales, etc.
- Location and transportation to the services.