INDIANAPOLIS — Losing someone you love can be one of the most difficult times in your life. A funeral and memorial service is supposed to be the first step in the healing process, but for many Hoosiers over the last eighteen months, that process has been ripped away thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ask Me Their Name is a new nonprofit emotional support program that aims to repair that healing process. It’s a program created by Roberts Park Church and the Garden Community Church. The goal is to encourage Hoosiers to say the names of their loved ones, and open up to their fellow neighbors about their loss.
Reverend Pastor Andrew Scanlan-Holmes of Roberts Park Church says Ask Me Their Name tries to address something he calls “unresolved grief.”
“Ask Me Their Name is a new nonprofit that is looking to provide awareness to a very concerning and growing problem which is called unresolved grief or complicated grief,” Pastor Andrew explains, “it’s when people have not been able to fulfill the grieving process particularly through the last eighteen months or so through COVID.”
Pandemic restrictions affected nearly every aspect of life, especially during the spring and summer of 2020, before vaccines became widely available and more information became clear. This affected funeral services as well.
It’s something Pastor Andrew remembers clearly.
“I officiated a number of funerals that were just me, the casket, the funeral director and a camera,” Pastor Andrew continues, “the family were not present and therefore those within the family weren’t able to access the full opportunity to grieve in that way.”
As positive cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across the Hoosier State, combined with the threat of evolving variants, many Hoosiers will continue to lose people they love to COVID. That’s why the Ask Me Their Name program offers Hoosiers emotional support resources.
Pastor Andrew says it’s a way for people to open up and give them the ability to heal from their emotional wounds.
“So we’re providing the opportunity for people to take a black armband with ‘ask me their name’ on it, or a black pin or ball cap or T-shirt that’s just a way of saying it’s okay, you can talk to me,” Pastor Andrew explains.
Pastor Andrew believes we as a society have lost some of our compassion for one another. But there are people who are curious and want to know the story of someone else’s lost loved one, but those people are too afraid to ask. That is the purpose behind the name of the church’s program. It’s an open invitation to talk to a fellow Hoosier about their loss, in hopes to rebuild that compassion.
Pastor Andrew says the church has had a “trial run” of the Ask Me Their Name program, and it went as well as he could’ve hoped.
“One of the ladies with whom we bank was wearing one of our pins and went out in the evening to a restaurant,” Pastor Andrew recalls, “[she] reported back to me the following day with great excitement that she had seven conversations with people that came up to her and said ‘So what’s their name?’, and that just sparked the conversation.”
Pastor Andrew says it’s important that the church get the word out about the Ask Me Their Name program, so they’re officially launching the program on National Grief Awareness Day. That’s Monday, August 30th.
It’ll be an event held at Roberts Park United Methodist Church at 401 North Delaware Street, beginning at 11 Monday morning. It’s the beginning of an event Pastor Andrew hopes will grow into a worldwide campaign of compassion.
He says the ultimate goal of Ask Me Their Name is to repair the healing process before it becomes a pandemic of it’s own kind.
“We need to highlight the fact that if we’re not careful, the pandemic of COVID-19 is going to be followed by a large number of people who will be accessing medical and counseling facilities because of what’s called unresolved grief or complicated grief.”
LISTEN: Hear the full interview with Pastor Andrew of Roberts Park Church
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