Relationships end and a person who was once part of a couple becomes single again. This could be due to the death of partner, separation and divorce from a registered marriage or the end of a defacto relationship. Whatever the cause becoming single is more than potentially altering title from Mrs. to Ms., it is a change in identity, and the loss of the relationship and future dreams causes intense grief.
Statistically 1 in 3 marriages end in divorce. The break up rate for co-habiting relationships is higher.
Here’s some steps to be inclusive of divorced and single again people in your church:
- Recognise and support people in the loss and grief caused by the end of relationship. For some practical how to’s of supporting someone through loss and grief click here . Those who are divorced or broke up with a lifetime partner will experience loss and grief with no ritual to help process them, and many times stigma instead of support. There may be the added heart break of rejection by the person who was supposed to love ‘till death do us part’ and possibly a betrayal of trust in need of healing.
- Be aware of the emotional, mental, physical, social, spiritual and other needs of the person, as the end of a relationship affects all areas of health. I lost my job with the loss of my marriage as we ran a business together.
- Offer counselling and have any resources or referrals to help the person.
- Offer practical assistance. There is a learning process to take over jobs done by the partner and sometimes practical help is required. Often single parents are forced to move to cheaper accommodation and could use some help to pack and load.
- Rebuild the person’s identity or self-esteem. Teach how worth is found in God alone, not in how others see you.
- Talk and teach about Biblical single role models like Paul and Jesus.
- Talk and teach how single people are whole people, they are not half of a couple needing a spouse to be complete
- Be single’s friendly – click here for information and resources
- Encourage and support single again people into leadership.
- Do not teach divorce is an unforgivable sin and to remarry is to commit adultery. I know women who stayed in abusive marriages because they were taught divorce is an unforgiveable sin. Others have left the church to remarry.
The last two dot points are underpinned by theology. If you are interested in my understanding, you can read ‘Topic 29 What the church and Bible say about divorce’ from my book ‘New Life in the Mourning’ by Clicking here . My overarching view is, ‘We need to look at the whole story of the Bible and not just focus on a few verses. Yes, God hates sin but his overall message is about our relationship with God, God’s grace, love and forgiveness through Jesus, his Son. The Bible talks about compassion, not condemnation. Our sins were forgiven two thousand years ago.’ p193
Here’s my summary on the topic
‘God invented the union of marriage and the Bible upholds it as the ideal. The breaking of the marriage union is a sin. It may happen long before separation and divorce occur, and it may be broken by a partner’s abuse or infidelity rather than when one person leaves the marriage. God forgives all sin. Grace is bigger than sin.’ p199
Is your church Single Friendly? Click Here to find out
New Life in the Mourning is a set of resources to bring healing, wholeness and purpose people at the end of a relationship including:
- website with information and practical ideas for the person. It is updated regally with a fortnightly blog.
- book for those experiencing the end of a relationship and pastors/counsellors. “This is a useful volume for pastors to have on hand both for their own understanding of the issues and for counselling newly-single people.” Dr Vanessa Chant, Head of Counselling, Tabor College, Sydney and Dr Barry Chant Author and teacher, Founding president, Tabor College. See below for more information
- course; you can be equipped and provided resources to run a course to support people in your church and community who have experienced the end of a relationship
New Life in the Mourning: The Book
Released in August 2010, the book is a helpful reference for those who have experienced the end of a relationship. The topics are quite detailed balancing personal stories with well researched advice and containing “growth assignments’ to reinforce the message. The Christian dimension is interwoven but not pervasive.
The blurb says:
And they lived happily ever after. That’s the dream ending we all expect from a
committed relationship, but dreams can become nightmares, and relationships end. But as Vicky Legge explains with authority and compassion, the end of a relationship doesn’t have to be ‘the end’. It can be a challenging, confronting and painful time that brings mourning, but there is hope for a new life.
Change is unavoidable. Growth through change is optional. New Life in the Mourning
offers practical guidance to navigate the end of a relationship caused by separation,
divorce or relationship breakdown. You’ll discover how to
- overcome negative emotions and grief
- heal and find wholeness
- move on, choosing to live an abundant life of purpose.
New Life in the Mourning has been written by someone who has experienced the journey and knows there is light at the end of the tunnel. Vicky Legge has used her own, very personal, experiences to minister to many people who have found themselves single again, some of whom share their stories of finding healing and hope amidst the often devastating end of their relationships. She encourages you to take the journey as well, and to find ‘new life in the mourning’.
“I’ve read “New Life in the Mourning” and it’s as though there’s a sensitive, informed, wise companion through a deeply challenging process. The book is well organized through its structure and the cross referencing reflects how our minds work in times of challenge. “New Life in the Mourning” balances personal stories with well researched advice so that the reader has confidence in what is being read. The interweaving of the Christian dimension is very effective and it reminded me of how my faith provided solid stepping stones in uncertain times” Anonymous age 55
“The title says it all – New Life in the Mourning. Here is a practical, realistic approach to rebuilding after a marriage breakdown. Vicky Legge has been through it and she knows. She doesn’t deny the mourning process – indeed she encourages her readers to embrace it and gives practical hints about how to deal with it. But at the same time, drawing on her own experience together with insights from the best in the business, she points out how new life can come – physically, emotionally and spiritually. The layout is attractive and the book is easy to read. This is a useful volume for pastors to have on hand both for their own understanding of the issues and for counselling newly-single people.”
Dr Vanessa Chant Dr Barry Chant
Head of Counselling, Author and teacher,
Tabor College, Sydney Founding president, Tabor College
“Legge’s book will offer comfort to many people who are wallowing in the depths of despair after a partnership breakdown. Legge knows that divorce is not the end. She is living proof of that and in this book has offered a lifesaver to all those that believe there is a rainbow on the horizon and that in every life some rain must fall. New Life in the Mourning is written with grace, heart and intellect”. Wendy O’Hanlon,- Acres Australia
New Life in the Mourning: The course
New Life in the Mourning is a 4 session course designed to bring healing, wholeness and purpose to those mourning the end of a relationship through separation, divorce or relationship breakdown. The course is licensed to organisations and facilitators are trained in all aspects of running a course.
Each two hour session consists of short DVD presentations, group discussion, self reflection and group brainstorming for solutions. This group interaction is an important part of the course as it creates a network of support and facilitates problem solving skills. There is an easy to follow workbook to record answers and contains some of the material for later reference.
It could be run as 4 weekly sessions or in a seminar format.
Session 1: the end of a relationship
Discuss changes and losses that ending a relationship brings and the grief it causes, and ways of overcoming the negative emotions generated by it such as anger, fear, guilt and depression.
Session 2: healing
Discuss forgiveness, rebuilding self-esteem, overcoming loneliness and the concept of ‘looking in the mirror’.
Session 3: moving on
Discuss choosing an abundant life, living a life of purpose and fulfilling your potential after ending a relationship.
Session 4: single again
Discuss living with your new identity, dating and loving again, and single sexuality.
Course reviews- answering the question: what did you like most about the course?
- I think it was helpful as a group to share similar experiences/feelings/emotions
- Sense of inclusion, self-acceptance, not alone
- The fellowship of sharing with others in the same situation as myself
- Sharing ideas, discussion
- I think its valuable to all share our pain and hurt and know that life goes on
- I enjoyed the active parts – writing down information, responding and thinking about questions
- The friendships
If you are interested in running a ‘New Life in the Mourning’ course
The course is licensed and designed to be facilitated by trained lay people experienced in leading small groups. The course uses the group process to increase participants’ belief in their ability to solve their own problems and gain confidence in their capability to achieve an outcome (self-efficacy). This is built by the experience of successful achievement, positive role models, encouragement of others, and positive emotions. It is not a form of counseling.
Licensing of organisations running the course is designed to protect the integrity of the course material and delivery, promoting confidence in the product.
Training to be a New Life in the Mourning Facilitator
Training to run the course is provided in a one day workshop format covering:
- Why? including current social trends
- Concepts of that underpin the course
- Process of change
- Core self-management skills
- Experience running the course
- Discussion of potential problems and how to avoid them
- Logistics of running a course from advertising to evaluation
- Available support and resources
In Adelaide, South Australia the cost to train as a New Life in the Mourning Facilitator is $350 including Starter Kit and training.
The Starter Kit contains enough material to advertise and run at least one New Life in the Mourning course including:
- CD ROM of charts
- Facilitators Manual
- 5 participant workbooks and 5 Devotional guides
- or 10 participant workbooks and no devotional guides in the community course
- pack of 25 advertising postcards
- 1 x A3 and 4 x A4 advertising posters
- 3 New Life in the Mourning books
- License Agreement
- all in a plastic storage container.
Cost to train additional person from an organisation with a license agreement is $150
Please contact us if you are interested in facilitating a course in your church.