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The purpose of this project is to help people grow through grief, which is a journey with many detours that can lead in many directions. Despite the great potential for discouragement and despair, people can find healing if they incorporate the critical elements of staying in communication with God, in community with others, and caring for others out of their experience. To encourage those who are grieving and those who care for them, the project presents a practical plan for how to help people grow through grief. The thesis was tested at Sierra Presbyterian Church in Nevada City, California. The project begins by exploring the prevailing model of stages of grief that was developed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. It then takes up the two-track hypothesis of Kubler-Ross’s mentor, Carl Nighswonger, who showed that grief does not always lead to acceptance, but may lead to resignation or forlornness instead. Building on this hypothesis, this project addresses the cyclical nature of grief that is explored by a number of other writers. It will also look at a number of biblical examples of those who have grown through grief and what Reformed theology has to say about God’s role in the process. What results is a practical plan for how to help people grow through grief. This is accomplished by encouraging people to: stay in communication with God by praying the Psalms, in community with others through a grief workshop and grief groups, and to play a role in supporting others who are grieving through sharing their own grief stories. An evaluation and assessment plan is presented to show how this strategy has enabled people to grow in the context of Sierra Presbyterian Church.

Theological Mentor: Kurt Fredrickson, PhD.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Fredrickson, Kurt

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Sierra Presbyterian Church (Nevada City, Calif.); Church work with the bereaved; Grief; Bereavement


Missions and World Christianity


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April 2018

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