Monthly Archives: February 2014

When Loved Ones Die, Funeral & Spiritual Counseling Ideas for Ordained Ministers

when somebody dies - funeral comforting resources for the ordained minister, pastor, rabbi, spiritual counselor

Ordained clergy should deliver comfort and solace when loved ones die

Inspiring online resources for ordained ministers and all clergy to use when counseling people who have lost loved ones

If you have been asked to perform a funeral, or give a eulogy, or just be there to comfort the family of the departed one, these resources will not only inspire and uplift you, but give you ideas and words to say to bring solace to the grieving. This is what “ministering” is all about, this is one of the most difficult jobs for ordained clergy.


Resources recommended by David Sunfellow

Watch all the videos recommended in this post on NHNE Pulse:

Many people suffer terribly when a family member or dear friend passes from this world to the next. If you are looking for something to ease your pain and/or lift the pain of another, here are a few helpful resources to explore and possibly share…

Nurse Shares 30 Years Of Spiritual Experiences With Death & Dying

Surviving Death, A Short Documentary About Near-Death Experience

Near-Death Experience Documentary – Commonalities Of The Experience


Hundreds of near-death experience videos, most of them first-person accounts, can be found here:

NHNE’s “Must Watch” NDE Playlist

NHNE’s Archive of NDE Testimonials


NHNE Pulse on Shared-Death Communications

NHNE Pulse on Death-Bed Experiences

NHNE Pulse on After-Death Communications


By Raymond Moody

Book Description:

Raymond Moody, author of the multimillion copy best-seller, Life After Life, reveals new results from his lifelong investigation of what happens when we die. Raymond Moody revolutionized the way we think about death with his first book, Life After Life, which was stories of people who died and then returned to life. Going through a tunnel, encountering an angelic being or having an out-of-body experience are hallmarks of what Moody termed a ‘near death experience.’ Since the publication of his multimillion copy best-seller, hundreds of thousands of people have contacted Moody to share their own experiences. The startling pattern that Moody discovered is that at the time of death, loved ones also have inexplicable experiences. Glimpses of Eternity is the first book to talk about the phenomenon of ‘shared death experiences.’ Readers will discover deathbed moments when entire families see the light or the room changes shape. Others tell of seeing a film like review of a loved one’s life and learning things that they could never have known otherwise. The stories are at once a comfort and a mystery, giving us a new understanding of the journey that we will take at the end of our lives.

By Bill Guggenheim, Judy Guggenheim

Book Description:

“After-death communications,” or “ADCs, ” occur when someone is contacted spontaneously and directly by a deceased family member or friend, without the help of any medium. The authors’ research shows that these spiritual experiences offer hope, love, and comfort for thousands of people. Included are more than 350 first-hand accounts of those whose lives have been changed and even protected by messages or signs from the deceased.

By Becki Hawkins

Book Description:

Transitions: A Nurse’s Education about Life and Death is a collection of stories from Becki Hawkins’s patients over the past thirty years of her career. She started off as a nurse’s aide, became a registered nurse, and began her career in oncology. A couple of years later she also started seeing hospice patients. She also did outpatient oncology nursing, home health/hospice, became a hospice chaplain, and later a hospice volunteer. She now sees patients on a volunteer basis. She began writing a feature column, “Beyond Statistics,” for a local newspaper when her husband told her one evening after her shift at work, “Please don’t tell me about it. Write it down.” The first article was published in 1986. These stories are the patients’ stories and their education to Becki as she visited them about the transitions we make in life and in death. Some of them involve patients in the nursing home, others in the hospital or an outpatient setting, and many others in the patients’ homes. Some of the patients were strangers, some were friends, some acquaintances, and some were family. You will find humor, heartbreak, wisdom, and frequent spiritual allusions in Transitions. The author reminds us that life is brief and fragile, and laced with story after story of how each of us is “learning” in this place that one patient named “Earth School.”

For more information about Becki Hawkins and her book, go here:

Wisdom of Near Death Experiences: How Understanding NDEs Can Help Us Live More Fully
By Penny Sartori

Book Description:

This book considers a wide range of experiences of dying patients that Dr. Sartori has encountered during her nursing career. It focuses on the near-death experiences (NDEs) of patients Dr. Sartori has nursed as well as the hundreds of cases of people who have contacted her over the years. Many people take NDEs at surface value and are mis-informed about the full extent of this highly complex phenomenon. This book examines all aspects of the NDE and Dr. Sartori emphasizes that by pathologising the NDE we are missing out on very important insights which can empower us to live fulfilled and meaningful lives. The results of her hospital research and that of others could not find a physiological or psychological explanation for these experiences and they can no longer be ignored or explained away. The crucial point of this book is that NDEs undoubtedly occur and have very real, often dramatic, life changing after effects. Further to that, the wisdom gained during the NDE can be life enhancing and have hugely positive effects on those who don’t have a NDE – all we have to do is take notice and hear what these people have to say. A greater understanding of NDEs can not only enhance the way in which we care for dying patients but also revolutionize our current world view. This book encourages readers to take notice of and incorporate the wisdom and powerful message of NDEs into their own lives.

For more information about Dr. Penny Sartori, her book, and the wide-spread interest her book has generated, go here:


Free Online Minister Manual

Bishop James, our Dean of Students at the Seminary, found this link to the New Minister’s Manual.  He writes: It is an excellent resource. As with many internet resources, shelf life is unpredictable, and you should save it if you are interested. +James

He means the manual above is currently a free PDF, but we don’t know how long the authors will continue to so generously make it available.

Several of the ministers and clergy in our network of graduates, including me, immediately downloaded and started to use this new manual. One ordained minister pointed out the manual is not as inclusive as it could be, is Christian-only, not Interfaith.  She made a good point.

minmanualFor the past twenty plus years as we ordain ministers, rabbis and other clergy of all callings and faiths, we offer them the Interfaith Minister Manual pictured right.  I think both these minister manuals are a good addition to one’s library. Now that I think about it, I should photograph my shelf of clergy manuals here at the Seminary. This “collection” compiled over the past quarter century now takes up two shelves on their own, and that does not include all the other liturgy and ceremony / ritual books. Does anyone else “collect” minister manuals? We have long considered putting a minister manual online somehow, or at least a compilation of religious ceremonies, rites of passage, etc.  We used to have some nice funeral ceremony “templates” and of course a bunch of wedding ceremonies online back in 1999 and 2000 when the Seminary first went online. Wonder what happened to those.

So many of our clergy create their own ceremonies these days that not too many want to follow along a set “script”.  However, doing so is much easier when you can cut and paste, pick and choose elements from a  minister manual or wedding ceremonies you find online.  With the help of the bride and groom, a wedding officiant usually customizes the ceremony by using all these minister tools.  That reminds me of one of the little known ancient meanings of the word ordination.  It means “to have the tools placed in hand” by the Divine.  In the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament) we find the first use of the word ordination. God would ordain priests, clergy, etc. by placing “tools” of the ministry in their hands.   They were empowered, ordained, set to work.  Our formal Certificate of Ordination uses an old turn of phrase, “Ordained to the work of ______________ Minister”. The minister or clergy title such as Interfaith Minister, Chaplain, Spiritual Minister, Rabbi, Priest goes in there.

Being clergy is a special kind of work (with tools handed down from on High!). Some would say it is the Great Work.