Workflow Magic: Caring For A Surviving Spouse

Posted by Boyd Pelley on 6/25/19 8:12 AM
Boyd Pelley
Find me on:

GriefThe other day, Kathi from Ohio asked about creating a workflow for her pastors to care for and encourage survivors after the death of their spouse. She is pretty good at  workflows and had already defined the pathway.

The conversation reminded me of many others we've had about how to handle the death of a spouse from the perspective of the database. So, let's start with that and then get to the workflow.

When a spouse passes away, there are six adjustments you will want to make in the database.

  1. Benchmark the date of death. Enter the actual date of death in the deceased person's member profile.
  2. Remove contact information. You don't want to accidentally call or email the deceased so just remove phone numbers and email addresses.
  3. Reassign YTD giving records. If the deceased spouse has (year-to-date) giving records that need to be moved to the surviving spouse, go to the deceased member profile click more information then contributions and change the contributions over to the surviving spouse.
  4. Move deceased to their own family. Click on "Lastname Household" on either spouse's member profile. Then move the deceased spouse to a new family. This will keep all their group and attendance history but keep them from accidentally being included in household correspondence or check-in.
  5. Reconnect both spouses. Use the Add button in the Related To area on the surviving spouse's member profile to reconnect them with their deceased spouse.
  6. Pastoral care notes. Add notes in both profiles. Perhaps details of pastoral care in the Deceased profile and a note to schedule a follow-up call to the Surviving spouse. The Workflow can be used to expand the follow up care.

The goal of the "Grief Matters" Workflow is to provide grief care and support for the first year after the death of a spouse. You might want to amend this to include an annual remembrance for a few years.

Here's the path Kathi outlined:

  • Send grief booklet 3 weeks after the death of the spouse.
  • Send another booklet at the 3 month point.
  • A third one at 6 months.
  • A final one at 9 months.

I threw in a couple of reminders to the pastoral care director in this workflow:


Notice that there is no enrollment group in this example.  You could create a Deceased group and use it to launch the workflow, but once you make the Workflow "Active" you can also go to the member profile, scroll down to workflows and enroll them directly from there.


Few things in a person's life are as traumatic as the death of their spouse.  God is honored when His church responds as His hands and heart. Use Churchteams to make sure this happens consistently and personally.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants."  Psalm 116:15

Tags: Membership, Automation

Subscribe to Email Updates