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The inevitability of death and the constant reconstruction of life required by loss subjects humanity to grief. The Church has too often failed to acknowledge and address this fact. Pastors are not trained adequately in grief and loss leaving them little to offer the bereaved. Pastors are forced to share platitudes and to abdicate their pastoral and teaching roles in the company of death and loss. Consequently, many bereaved persons feel isolated when support is most needed. Social support for the bereaved is vital. A compassionate presence providing comfort is often lacking.

This project is designed to provide training in contemporary grief understandings to pastors and invested lay persons for the purpose of creating compassionate communities of healing. Forest Lawn is uniquely positioned to provide this training due to a long history of active community engagement. This project also examines the lack of adequate and available training for pastors. The on-coming wave of the death of the Baby Boomers, the rapid increase in cremation, and the change in death rituals among this generation are further reasons to institute this project.

The project will provide a basis for appreciating the role and power of grief as a healing process. This will be shown by providing an awareness of the attachments human beings form and the threat to those attachments we face in the reality of death. Death and grief become the seed for the transformed life through the process of silence, lament and resurrection.

The training will be comprehensive; persons involved will be exposed to the most recent theories on grief, theological insights on death and spiritual growth, the varieties of grief expressions, strategies of bereavement care, a look at their own death awareness and strategies for their own self-care.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Hoy, William G.

Document Type





Grief, Death, Pastoral Training, Compassion, Healing, Laments, Resurrection, Humility


Practical Theology


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