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Providing hope at a time of need

PROVIDING SUPPORT: Pastor Sharon and Dorothy Dwyer (right)

EVERYONE AT some point or other will experience loss, grief and bereavement. If they need help to overcome it, they can count on the support of Pastor Sharon Townsend and Dorothy Dwyer.

Four years ago these two Christians founded The Loss and Bereavement Group (LABG), and now host regular meetings so that those suffering from grief and loss can get advice, support and hope for the future. The next session of LABG meetings start on April 15.

Since its inception, the LABG has supported people, of all ages, backgrounds and faith. Pastor Sharon said: “We have assisted both men and women, people from various cultures, people who have lost their partners, a brother or sister and even grandparents.

“Interestingly, we have also had church leaders attend and many times we’ve found that people have attended for a recent loss, but then included previous losses that hadn’t been fully dealt with.”


Previous attendees of the LABG have welcomed the support they’ve received and how it helped them overcome their grief and accompanying emotions such as sadness, anger, and hopelessness.

If there’s the one thing the LABG does, it serves as a reminder of how debilitating grief can be. “The truth is it’s a very upsetting situation and takes us to a difficult place,” explained Dorothy.

“No-one welcomes grief, but it is an inevitable part of life. However, it’s better to understand this process and the strategies for coping for our own wellbeing in the long term. This is what our ministry is about.”

Pastor Sharon and Dorothy are longstanding Christians who both attend the Junction Community Church in Streatham, south-east London.

Although they work in different fields - Pastor Sharon is a chaplain and Dorothy is a trainer and life coach – the pair felt they could help people deal with grief by joining forces.

Pastor Sharon added: “We both realised the same thing when it came to certain issues and problems people may have.

“Many times the root cause is a loss or bereavement. In addition, we felt more could be done from within the church to lend support in this area. Before we knew it, God had spoken to us about starting support work in this area.”

The work of the LABG can and does serve to supplement the work churches do with the bereaved in their churches because it’s a fact that churches are not always fully equipped to deal with people suffering from deep grief.

So pivotal is the work being carried out by these two women, in February they became the first black Christians to host a well-received conference on the subject of grief and loss.

They are regularly invited to give talks about how to deal with grief and they are exploring replicating the LABG they run across the church.

In the interim, they have this advice for anyone suffering from grief. “It’s amazing how grief, when not dealt with, can affect people.

“Usually it’s borderline depression, and people going through it usually know why they are not in a good place and it can affect their relationships, employment, and general health and wellbeing. Therefore, in some way, this needs to be dealt with on a spiritual level as well as practically.”

The next Loss and Bereavement Group starts on April 15. For more details email or phone 020 8769 5174

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