Question: I think I need to find a grief support group, but none of the groups in my community are faith-based. Is there value in a support group where we won’t talk about Jesus?
Answer: I’m sorry for your loss. When we suffer life’s inevitable losses, grief groups offer us a needed sense of community and support. I’m pleased you are looking for a good group to attend. We are designed to grow and heal in the context of community, and with God’s help, I think you will find comfort there.
I believe you may be pleasantly surprised how your neighbors, Christians and non-Christians alike, will love you and come alongside you at this difficult time. Our non-Christian neighbors love the people they have lost and love their families as much as we do. Hopefully you’re able to talk about how Jesus is your strength, and why faith is important to you.
It’s wise not to assume that only faith-based groups are friendly or welcoming to Christians. We should also be careful not to assume that God isn’t blessing the work being done in groups unaffiliated with churches. God is everywhere, and if a group is a good one, God is behind that goodness. Of course, all groups (Christian and non-Christian) vary in quality and may or may not be a good fit for you. I encourage you to attend the group, give it a chance, and see if it feels safe and supportive.
Another important consideration is whether the group might be a place where you serve others. Good groups are places of give and take, and mutual support. This may be an opportunity for your non-Christian neighbors to hear about Jesus.
Your question is a familiar one. I am asked similar questions on a weekly basis, questions like, “Can you recommend a Christian psychiatrist?” “Do you know where I can find a Christian primary care doctor?” “Do you know of a Christian surgeon?” While I understand this kind of question, and value the support of fellow Christians, I also know that God is big enough, and gracious enough, to gift non-Christians with amazing talents and skills. Anything good in this world is a gift from God, so maybe a better question is, “Do you know of a good support group in my neighborhood?” You won’t know until you go.
Mark McCormick is director of clinic operations for Illinois Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services.