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How Might Pastors Help Themselves?

  1. Resist the urge to control your grief. Allow your grief to come to expression by talking about your feelings with trusted people and/or professionals.
  1. Journal thoughts, reflections, impressions. Such journals may become resources for later or they may be destroyed after a time. Do whatever you find helpful as you process your grief. 
  1. Give yourself grace and allow unfamiliar expressions of grief to emerge. One pastor found healing power in taking walks and yelling at God.
  1. Be aware of what your grief is doing to you. It is changing the way that you live; the way that you think about God, yourself and the world around you; and the way that you minister to others. 
  1. It may be important to engage a professional counselor to assist you with your grief work.
  1. When members of your congregation intrude upon your grief work in unhelpful ways feel free to indicate to them that you are unable to speak with them at the moment (or to pastor them). Consider working with your council to identify someone who can be the first contact for congregation members wanting to express their sympathies.
  1. When you re-engage ministry after a personal tragedy consider taking up simpler, easier, more natural ministries first. Move to more challenging ministry tasks later in time, after experiencing success with simpler ministries. Of course, “simpler” and “challenging” mean different things for different pastors.