In times of trauma, chaos, distress, and grief, people often rely upon the people, places, and things that bring them comfort. They may turn to local clergy for solace, and may enlist the help of funeral directors to guide them through decision making.

They will likely look first to those they know and trust from within their community. To that end, there are numerous ways caregivers can build trust within their community and serve as a guiding light in times of grief. Here are some examples of how.

Collaboration: Caregivers who collaborate are seen as trustworthy by the community, since it is clear that they are respected among others in their field.

For example, clergy can call local hospitals and set up meetings with chaplains. Families often request to have their own clergy visit, and it is helpful for hospital chaplains to be aware of who clergy are, which church they represent, and how best to reach them. Clergy may also offer for their place of worship to donate supplies to a hospital’s Spiritual Care Department. The roles of clinical chaplains and clergy are different, so they can be of great support to each other.

Funeral directors can also benefit from close relationships with local clergy of all faiths. It can be helpful to show how their funeral homes meet the needs of various religious requests. It can also be beneficial for funeral homes to regularly connect with the clergy they work with and share information that can then be shared with the congregants.

Visibility: Being visible in the community regularly, as opposed to only when traumatic events occur, can also help build trust. When firemen, EMTs, and policemen visit elementary schools and children’s events to let children explore their vehicles and ask questions in non-emergency situations, children learn those people are safe. In that same vein, funeral staff and clergy who are visible on a consistent basis can make those in the community feel safe when it comes time to navigate a loss.

Clergy can ask funeral directors to host special events or classes to explain funeral choices to congregants who wish to attend. Congregants will be more willing to trust a funeral home when they see them working alongside their faith community and are able to ask questions in an environment that is comfortable to them. Clergy, funeral directors and caregivers can all be visible at local events, parades, and farmer’s markets alone or with their families, simply showing that they are part of the community.

Clarity: Each individual has preconceptions about what different professions do. Sometimes, this comes from past experience, both good and bad, and sometimes it is how these professions are portrayed in the media. Every type of caregiver can find ways to provide clarity about their role within the community and in caring for people within the community.

Clergy, local hospital chaplains, funeral home staff, and other caregivers can easily integrate into their communities by being visible, providing clarity about their role, and collaborating with each other. This will help members of the community to feel comforted by their presence when the inevitable happens.

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