If you’ve been a youth leader for a while, you’ve had to work through the pain of tragedy and death with your youth group members. Whether it’s a member of your group, a family member or a friend from school, tragic accidents and death certainly creep into our lives and into our youth groups. Youth groups are a very healthy place to help students deal with their emotions around these tragedies too.
I’ll state a few of the obvious responses and responsibilities that I see in supporting members of your youth group around tragic circumstances. You need to give students time and room to grieve. You can’t avoid it or try to find other distractions. Allow it to occur. It’s critical to cover the group and the specific students in prayer. Include youth group members in this focus on prayer and make sure the prayers continue throughout the days and weeks that follow. Involve your pastors and parents in the grieving and healing process. Be aware that grief counselors may be necessary. Respond quickly to bring in these resources as soon as you realize that they are needed.
There are resources available to assist leaders with this process too. One resource from Faith Alive Resources is “In Live and In Death.” There are many more resources available too.
The last piece of advice I would offer is to rely on the wisdom and experience of other youth leaders and pastors who have travelled this road before. They can offer assistance and advice that will certainly be helpful as you minister to your youth group members.