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Ministering to grieving family and friends presents special needs and unique opportunities.

I was pushing my two elementary-school-aged boys through their bedtime routine. "Hurry up! Shar is coming over to discuss a retreat we need to plan. There won't be time for a story tonight, but let's say prayers together and do back rubs."

Then the phone rang-and changed not only the course of the evening but the events of several weeks to follow.

"Cinda, this is Dr. Steele. I'm in the emergency room at Grossmont Hospital with Keith and Judy Meeker. Their son, Jarrett, hanged himself on a back-yard rope swing this afternoon. He's been pronounced dead. They asked that you or your husband be here."

My husband, Steve, another pastor at our church, had already left for an evening meeting. I was searching my memory for a picture of the Meeker family. I came up blank. Then I remembered that last weekend Jarrett and his dad had been with the males in my family on a fishing trip with the boys' choir.

After clarifying where to meet the parents, I told the doctor I would be there as soon as I could ...

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