the ending of the beginning

The first class session of the last course for the Ph. D. meets on Saturday. So, that means the procrastination by blogging will probably increase. I’m taking Advanced Quantitative Research Methods. But really, I’m starting to put some thought toward the dissertation that comes after the comps.

When I started (Fall 2002), I knew exactly what I wanted to do. That has shifted. I’m now considering clergy and grief. I know that is not defined enough yet. However, I’m thinking that there are times when clergy are involved with church members in multiple relationships that cross boundaries, like the church member who is a 3rd grade teacher and has the preacher’s kid in class while the preacher is also the room mother (or whatever they are called now) and a leader in PTA with the husband of the teacher who is also a Trustee at church. When that 3rd grade teacher dies from breast cancer, the grief cannot be contained in a neat little professional box. There are times when, for clergy, to adapt someone else’s phrase, the professional is personal.

That is the kind of grief and clergy study I’d like to attempt. I have not found it addressed in any professional literature. (If you know of some please let me know!) What do you think? Would you consider participating (this is not a commitment, just a question)? I could use some conversation around this with other clergy. So comments or questions would really be helpful.


About Sarah The Vicar of Hogsmeade

I'm an United Methodist clergywoman with two daughters. I read. I geocache. I look for excuses to laugh. My Ph.D. is on Clergywomen and Grief.
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4 Responses to the ending of the beginning

  1. mmmm… it happens that’s for sure. recently there was a 2 vehicle accident here, with one fatality. dynamics? (1) the deceased was a church member (survivors include wife & 2 elementary aged chilren(2) the first EMT on scene a church member(3) the fire chief (2nd on scene) also member, and father of #2, his wife is on council and they are good, good friends of mine & hubhc’s(4) hub hc as a fireman was also on scene(5) the other vehicle was NOT driven by a member, but was a driving for a company that is owned/operated by church members (also good friends)how did i keep professional & personal straight? ha ha… i phoned two colleagues and talked with them in depth regarding my stuff… so it “freed” me up to do the pastory stuff in a zillion different directions.don’t know if that’s helpful – but i think if you are authentic in ministry; there’s no compartmentalizing really… you are you, who happens to be a pastor.

  2. That is exactly the kind of situation I’m talking about. Actually, I’m not looking at the separation (like everyone else in the world). I want to look at the blurred lines and carrying the grief that is both personal and professional. What is the influence on the clergy of that grief? There is no way for it to be “just professional” but no one is talking about the grief that clergy carry as a part of their ministry. Every study I can find with clergy and grief talks about clergy as the resource not as the one with grief. I want to look at the clergy as the one with grief as it relates to the “professional” part of life; when the professional is personal.

  3. gotcha. i think there’s a ton to be said on the topic… because truly we (as in clergy) aren’t meant to carry that grief around and “stuff” it all inside. but it happens all the time i think… and in that pastors begin to be burnt out, ineffectual, distant, and the toll on emotional, physical, spiritual health is bad, oh so would be interesting to know how others deal with it. for me? i paint, pray, cry alone, walk the dog, pray some more… uh oh doggie wants to play. better grab my shoes before he does…

  4. net says:

    I’m like HCL. I was an EMT for 11 years in a volunteer service. I prayed many people – both folks I knew and folks I didn’t – out of this life and into the next.The worst: first run back after my heart attack was for a 1 year old who had drowned in the family pool. Knew the mom (I taught her EMT class – she she knew what was going on), knew the whole family. Our kids went to school together.Baby didn’t make. The ER Doc asked me to go with him to tell the family. I was on doctor-ordered rest from the church, but I wouldn’t have done anything different.The weirdest? Ministering to my son and his boss after their CPR didn’t work on one of the maintenance guys. They were both wrecks.I did the EMT thing because it was different kind of stress than pastoring. I figured if I could get the patient to the hospital – at the very least – in stable condition – I had accomplished something. Of course, I got teased because I was the only EMT who could “do” a funeral if I failed. Many times I had the funeral for an unchurched person because the family said I “had a relationship with their loved one” while pushing on his/her chest or pumping oxygen into his/her body while doing CPR.Good times. Lots of ministry.

Overheard at the Three Broomsticks

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