Summary: A beacon of hope and support
There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.
What have we learned?
- African American families and communities bear an unacceptably higher burden of pregnancy and infant loss when compared with other racial and ethnic groups.
- Families do not quickly “get over” the loss of a pregnancy or a baby - we have to be willing to go the distance in supporting them.
- When families turn to their churches and clergy, they need informed and compassionate support.
- “Being there” and listening is most helpful - no one can “fix it” or take away the pain.
- Understanding one’s own reactions to grief and loss are key to providing compassionate support to others.
- When families need more support than the clergy or other church members can provide, then churches need to know how to help them find effective support in the community and to support them in seeking that support.
Churches and clergy who recognize and support their congregants in loss are embodying the messages of compassion and healing that echo throughout the Bible.
Dr. Robert Washington, Ph.D., M.Div., a minister and clinical psychologist, provides us with closing words, sharing his view of the particular challenges of addressing African American women of faith, and offering counsel to fellow clergy on how best to address the problem.
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Dr. Washington is chaplain and Vice President of Counseling Services at Montgomery Hospice, a nonprofit hospice serving residents of Montgomery County, Maryland. He is a licensed clinical psychologist and ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and through his work in both mental health administration and the ministry, has developed a strong interest in the interface of psychology and spirituality. For the past 25 years, he has specialized in grief counseling - working with those who are ill, dying and/or bereaved, and training others to do likewise.