This program will:
Build community among participants and increase their comfort in talking about death and dying
- Invite participants to find their own personal meaning and theology of death
- Offer information about cultural and religious perspectives on death
- Invite participants to reflect on experiences of grief and bereavement
- Provide information about how to prepare children for the death of a loved one
- Provide opportunities for participants to discuss and reflect on both suicide and death with dignity
- Provide practical information about end-of-life decisions and advance directives
- Help participants prepare for their own deaths and those of their loved ones.
A team of two adults should facilitate these workshops. It is recommended that one leader be a religious professional or a leader with a counseling background, because some of the activities and discussion may evoke difficult memories or unresolved experiences for some participants. Leaders must also seek to form and nurture community within the group as participants move through emotionally and spiritually challenging territory. Seek leaders who are:
- Knowledgeable about Unitarian Universalism
- Committed to the Unitarian Universalist Principles, to the congregation, and to the faith development components of this program
- Willing and able to thoroughly prepare for each workshop
- Effective at speaking, teaching, and facilitating group process
- Flexible and willing to modify workshop plans to support the full inclusion of all participants
- Able to listen deeply and to encourage participation of all individuals
- Able to demonstrate respect for individuals, regardless of age, race, social class, gender identity, ability, and sexual orientation
- Able to honor the life experiences each participant will bring to the program.
In addition, leaders should understand their personal experiences with death, dying, and grief. It is helpful if leaders share their own journeys as way to introduce themselves to participants. Two sample reflections, written by the program’s authors, can be found at the end of this Introduction: Leader Resource 1, Kate Walker’s Reflection on Death, and Leader Resource 2, Lee Ann Wester’s Reflection on Death.
This program is intended for adults. The workshops are equally suitable for first-time visitors and longtime congregation members. Leaders should be attentive to the differences in knowledge and life experience participants bring to the group, particularly if the group includes a wide age span and diverse cultural identities.
These workshops include significant time for personal sharing, so the ideal group size is 8-12 people. Workshops of fewer than 6 participants can do the small group activities as a full group. A group with more than 12 participants should be divided into two groups for sharing activities, with a leader in each group. If your group numbers 25 or more participants, a third leader is necessary.
Integrating All Participants
Review Accessibility Guidelines for Adult Workshop Presenters and implement as needed for your group.