A pastor and I were meeting for the first time, and we had just moved through the talk of sunny weather, ministry roles, and the people we both happened to know. Space had been created, you might say, for us to talk about something that mattered. He said, “You probably don’t know this about me, but I lost my wife to cancer several years ago…”
He then went on to tell his story of great loss and great pain, a story that featured a deep struggle over how to grieve and how to be a pastor at the same time.
This pastor then told me that it would have been helpful if someone from outside the congregation had approached his church council to help them understand how best to accompany him in his grief. He said that it would have been a significant gift for the church if the classis or Pastor Church Resources or someone had:
- Explained to his council that the experience of grief comes with special challenges for a pastor.
- Coached the council in how to journey through the pastor’s grief with him and how to help the congregation do that too.
Given guidance on matters such as the pastor’s need for time off, communicating with the congregation, and rightsizing the expectations of one another during the season of grieving.
“You guys,” he said, pointing to me but referring to Pastor Church Resources, “need to help us with that kind of stuff.”
His statement left an impression. It led to more conversations with many other pastors. A number of them shared their own experiences of tragic loss, deep pain, and frightening isolation.
What emerged from all of those conversations is a new resource for councils, congregations, and pastors called “Pastors Who Experience Significant Trauma”. It provides the kind of guidance that, hopefully, would have made my conversation partner’s grief journey significantly less painful and lonely.
You can find it at https://www.crcna.org/pcr/pastors-who-experience-significant-trauma.
For more information, or if you find yourself struggling through trauma or grief, please don’t hesitate to contact Pastor Church Resources at [email protected].