It is OK to give yourself permission to grieve. At an unprecedented time of facing a pandemic, many people are experiencing various stages of grief ... denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, meaning-making. (See works by Elisabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler for more related to stages of grief.) There is also anticipatory grief, grief that comes when we understand that there is so much more that we do not yet know or understand, and we anticipate more grief to come.
As pastors, you often counsel and care for people in the midst of grief on a daily basis. Now there is large-scale community, national and world grief. There is also your own. Please give yourself permission to tend to your own grief as you lead in mighty ways through this time.
I see your grief ...
Grief that as you prepare for a new appointment, these last few months are not what you anticipated they would be.
Grief that as you prepare to retire, you are now changing course of how final goodbyes and honoring of your ministry will look.
Grief regarding everything you know about ministry has now changed, and you are fast track learning how to minister in new ways.
Grief that you cannot gather as the body of Christ as you once did.
Grief that some decisions being made are out of your control.
Grief for your most vulnerable and at-risk in your communities as you see their fear and anxiety.
Anticipation of what is yet to come for those you love and those you will never meet ... illness, pain, grief, death.
Grief that you are unsure where to share your own experience, thoughts, feelings, opinions, hopes and fears.
Grief that whatever decisions are made by you may be met with resistance.
Grief regarding overwhelming financial burdens for you and others.
Grief regarding how to pastor to those entrusted to your care.
Grief that ...
As you offer words, actions, and leadership with those whom you serve, may you also carve out time to name that which you grieve. You are at the front lines of offering good news and resurrection hope in the midst of troubled times. Thank you. Thank you for the unseen hours of learning, transforming, tending, adapting, reaching out, of which you have been a part. In the midst of all that is before you, you have permission to also name that which is hard, unsettling, heavy laden. God hears your cries.
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, for you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-30)