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Indy church encourages people to 'Ask Me Their Name' to advance grieving process

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Posted at 2:34 PM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-30 14:34:52-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The oldest church in Downtown Indianapolis is launching a new initiative to help Hoosiers heal after losing loved ones to COVID-19.

It's called "Ask Me Their Name" and The Rev. Dr. Andrew Scanlan Holmes of Roberts Park United Methodist Church hopes the simple question will start the conversation that gets the grieving process going.

“We have gone through pain and anguish with COVID and if we are not careful, we will deal with more when it comes to people who have unresolved grief and have experienced loss," Scanlan Holmes said.

Scanlan Holmes knows too well the shadow the pandemic is casting over the grieving process.

“It’s interesting because most of those who have lost a loved one want to talk about it, but many of us don't want to ask. We are afraid we will upset someone or remind them of the grief they are going through,” Scanlan Holmes said.

He said loved ones are so busy trying to survive the pandemic that they aren't taking the time out and giving grieving the attention it needs. Instead, they are trying to bury their grief, sorrow and pain with the person, but he said that won't work.

“I did several funerals where it was just me, the casket, the funeral director and a camera,” Scanlan Holmes said.

He said people can virtually attend a funeral, but in real life they must face and eventually deal with the reality of the weight of the hurt wedged in the chambers of their heart.

“This idea of unresolved grief or complicated grief leads if we are not careful to both mental and physical illness,” Scanlan Holmes said.

That is where the mugs, pins, and the website comes into the conversation. Ask Me Their Name breaks the ice.

“It’s just simply a way of saying here's a way to start the conversation,” Scanlan Holmes said.

The campaign's website provides the resources to help those in need like access to counseling.

“A lady works with us. She simply wore a pin one evening and seven people talked with her asked her the name and she was able to say his name was Jesus, he was my father-in-law and he died on Easter Sunday,” Scanlan Holmes said.

This past weekend, the church celebrated two centuries in the downtown area. The Ask Me Their Name initiative is part of how they are marking the milestone

They’ve also put an Ask Me Their Name board outside of the church to allow people to write the names of those they lost.