Grief Aftercare

The memorial service isn't the place to terminate ministry; it's the place to begin a different but no less important one.
—Kevin E. Ruffcorn

Things are going pretty well, I thought as I hung my alb and stole in the closet. I had just completed the funeral for Stan Conners, the second funeral in the congregation to which I had recently moved. As I adjusted my collar and slipped into my sport coat, I ran through a mental check list: The soloist sang well; I felt good about my sermon; and the family was pleased with the service. I had accomplished my goal of providing spiritual comfort.

A comment two days later forced me to question that assumption.

I stopped by the house of a young widow. Three years earlier this woman's husband had died of a sudden heart attack. She shared her memories: finding her husband slumped over the wheel of the car in the garage, telling her school-age children their father was dead, beginning the struggle as a single parent.

She observed, "The pastor and the church ...

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