What makes me qualified? I think the answer to this question is easy. Let me break it down.
Number one, even though I have a degree in Social Work and have a certification in Thanatology it is the mourner who is the expert and not me. I can speak to the subject with certainty and knowledge. However, it is the mourner who has taught me. I enter all spaces of pain realizing I have so much to learn and I am the student. It is in the listening to who they are, who has died, and how they are feeling that learning takes place. They teach me. It is because of all the brave and courageous people I have met that allow me to share their stories and what they have taught me that I can then teach others.
Secondly, I have learned that I am not responsible for fixing anything. I would long for the magic answer of how to stop the pain they are experiencing, but that is not possible. But the comfort level in understanding that the well of sorrow is where they are living and drowning in currently, and that my role is to lean in, listen, comfort and educate that I am qualified. I do not seek to push, rush, or judge where they are. As I have heard stated before, I am a guest in a holy space. My willingness to enter is what makes me qualified.
Lastly, this is my calling. Sounds self-serving to talk about but I know that God has created me to do this work. It is odd but I am energized when walking with bereaved people. It took me a while to embrace my giftedness in the area of communication. Being able to speak well, keep audiences engaged and make a topic like grief not something to be dreaded but rather valued for its complexity, difficulty and lastly, what it can teach us. Having the privilege to educate people about death and grief teaches them about living!