With life comes death, which can lead to profound and unbearable sadness. Finding relief can be difficult, but Arvis L. Jones strives to restore people, especially children, experiencing the trauma of grief and loss. Jones recently shared her story with the L.A. Sentinel and explained how God guided her into this ministry.
What is your professional background? I have a B.A. Degree in music and a Music Therapy Certificate from CSU – Long Beach. I am a pianist and specialize in children and youth choirs. I have been the junior choir director at Grant AME Church in Los Angeles for 28 years and I founded the Grief and Loss Children’s Choir. Also, I have a M.A. degree in clinical psychology and I am a grief, loss and trauma Specialist.
How did you get started in the ministry of grief and loss? I did not know that grief and loss was a special field of service until I met a woman who had a children’s grief and loss center and went to work with her.
What role has God or your faith played in your ministry? I was totally satisfied with my music therapy profession and thought I had made it. But, God just opened doors for me to work in the world of grief and loss, specializing with children, youth and teens.
I saw that so many of these children’s problems stemmed from unresolved grief and loss. This grief was leading into situations such as gang involvement, inappropriate sexual behaviors, and lack of focus and concentration. I collaborate with the Los Angeles Police Department, most often lending assistance at crime scenes and the aftercare of victims.
As I began to go all over L.A. to speak to city officials and anyone who would listen to me about our children’s needs, people began to listen to what I was telling them.
What is a significant experience during your ministry? God truly tested me in 2008 when my 38-year-old son was killed on his front porch in a mistaken identity incident. My daughter-in-law was eight months pregnant with his fourth child and his youngest daughter was born six days after his death.
Everyone thought that I would stop doing this work, but I could not. I had to decide if I believed what I was telling these youth and their families, “no one goes before their time, only God knows the day or the hour.”
I was asked to develop a grief and loss program for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office that was used in nine middle schools of LAUSD. Now, I continue to work with parents, especially mothers who have lost a child, whether to violence an accident, or illness.
I pray before I see a family. I say, “The Spirit of The Lord goes before me and makes safe and successful my way.” This really helps to take the focus off of me and to place my success on God. I say, “I cannot take anyone’s pain away. I can only help them make their grief journey – two steps up, one step back; three steps forward, one step back – until they can look up and see the sunshine in their lives.”
What other projects are you working on? At this time, I facilitate a Grief support group on Tuesdays at 6:30 pm for adults, at Westmont Counseling Center, 1704 W. Manchester Blvd., suite 202, in Los Angeles. All are welcome. For information, call (213) 924-3510 or email [email protected].