Pastors Who Grieve While in Ministry

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A year ago, in a conversation with a regional pastor, I was led to think seriously again about pastors who experience significant loss while in ministry. The regional pastor with whom I was talking shared with me the story of his wife’s death some years before. He also shared the story of how little there had been available to him in terms of support. There was virtually no pastor-specific coaching, care, or counseling from qualified people.

Some time later another pastor, a pastor who had lost a young child, spoke with me on the difficulty of leading a congregation as a pastor while traveling through the process of deep grief. For some in the congregation, the pastor is grieving "too much." For others the pastor is "not grieving enough." What a complicated process grieving can be when you are trying to care for and experience the care of members of your congregation!

These two conversations, as well as others along the way, suggest that this is an important topic that is ready for broader exploration. With that in mind, I began to think about a conversation with grief-experienced pastors about how Pastor Church Resources might be of greater help.

I have already invited into conversation a number of pastors who have experienced deep loss while in ministry. Aware that my invitation might awaken in them painful and/or difficult memories and reflections I offered condolences but also expressed the hope that they would be willing and able to think with me about how to serve other pastors who grieve deeply while in ministry. The stories that have come back so far are both heartbreaking and inspiring.

As regional pastors you become aware of the losses that pastors experience. You are also aware of pastors who have experienced such losses in the past. I wonder what you have found helpful as you have reached out to such people. And I wonder if some of the grief-experienced people you are aware of would be willing to join me in conversation. If you have thoughts, experiences, or names to share, I would love to hear from you.   

Please leave a comment below or contact Dave Den Haan at [email protected] or at 1-877-279-9994  ext. 2712

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