Pastoral Care and Counseling in the Realm of Grief
Christians might call those who visit families going through grief or life challenges their pastoral care team or visitation ministry. Jewish congregations might call their congregational practice of visiting the sick or in need Bikur Cholim. Compassionate members of congregations and spiritual groups across Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, as well as other groups, also visit those who are anticipating or grieving a loss. Across all religions, illness, death, and grieving are central to the practice. Pastoral care and counseling should address grief and loss, as many turn to faith to answer these issues.
Whatever you call those members of your congregation who offer compassion and pastoral care to the those who are wrestling with difficult news or life situations, they are are a godsend to clergy who use them well.
Do you recognize yourself in the stereotype of the minister or rabbi, or imam who feels as though he or she must answer every call for pastoral care rather than to delegate?
Keep in mind that, just because a congregational member asks for you, that doesn’t mean you need to be the one to provide the care they need. The actual solution that answers what they need may be different from what they’re able to identify as the solution they want.
Do you have the resources to implement pastoral care and counseling on your own?
For a moment, compare the solution you’ve come up with—that it has to be you who makes every visit—with a saying in the consulting world. There, it’s a maxim that what the client identifies as their need is very often not the actual need, when you consider what actually works. We are notoriously bad at identifying our own solutions.
It’s natural for most congregation members to believe that pastoral care and counseling need to come from “the top,” from the person who is their spiritual leader. However, a good part of spiritual care—much as clergy may hate to admit it—actually comes from being there with a quiet and supportive presence, something that some members of your congregation may already be providing through a bereavement ministry or care ministry. Perhaps that care could be provided more systematically by such a group that already exists by investing time in its professional development. Or if, as many rabbis and pastors say, your congregation’s care ministry has gone unnurtured for some time, maybe it is time to go ahead and ask the people you keep meaning to ask to be part of that care ministry.
It takes discipline to examine your own belief about whether you think that pastoral care can only come from you. Have you not, after all, devoted your life to religious care, leadership, and education in part because you want to foster a caring community within your midst? Consider that it may be your job to cultivate the spiritual gifts of your community by multiplying your efforts at least as much as to provide pastoral counseling directly.
So, Who’s the Father?
So, Who’s the Father?” isn’t exactly what a person who’s expecting wants to hear. It can feel like an accusation, like an invasion of privacy, or like a completely irrelevant question, depending on one’s method of conception, key relationships, or plan for childrearing. Even in days when there were fewer methods for conceiving a child or for avenues for getting one to adulthood, Emily Post might have advised just to stick with a hearty congratulations.
Ostranenie: A Fantastic Russian Word
Learn to pronounce ostranenie and impress your friends with your accent as well as with this cool word.
And what a concept … to learn to re-see, as if with new eyes, those things our eyes think they know so well, they no longer see them at all.
To find wonder again and again in the way our sister-in-law calls company in for dinner without the least hint of anxiety, exhaustion, or sense of the extraordinary event.
To learn anew about the people we think we know best.
The Creature Comforts Checklist
This is it our “Creature Comforts Checklist.” It’s an odd name, we know.
We called it that, recognizing that grief is a very physical thing and that sometimes what grievers most need (aside from not being asked if they need anything) is not to talk but to be. Just a creature.
When you’re grieving, you miss the physical presence of the person you lost …
Beyond “In Through the Nose, Out Through the Mouth”
You’ve seen it a thousand times on television. Just a bit of momentary drama to set the stage. It’s a medical show. Someone is having an anxiety attack. Maybe he’s hyperventilating. The medical professional or first responder fixes her eyes on this (typically) mouth breather
How Can Something Be Neither Good Nor Bad?
It’s super fun to watch someone’s thinking shift right in front of you. They might jerk still suddenly, their eyes wide and long, like old cartoon figures in a haunted house or a dark cave, when all you could see was the eyes. That’s part of the joy
Becoming the Witness
I’m an avid reader of Twitter for its political and epidemiological news, which often appear prior to (and prove more informative than) what can be made available under the rubric of conventional media. I continue to be struck by a story that Pulitzer Prize-winning