Sunday, July 12, 2009

Shock, grief, and a prayer request.

Please keep my friend, S, and her family in your prayers. Her husband, J, died very suddenly on Friday. He was only 55 and appeared to be in great health. I just found out this afternoon. S and J were a clergy couple and were a great source of support to me during my time in Danville. In fact, my former church, SJ, became a "cooperative parish" with S's church, Whitmell, so S is now the pastor of my former church.

This is one of those times when I'm reminded that our lives can end at any time and for any reason. I'm thanking God that J has claimed the promise of the resurrection and is in heaven, but I'm grieving that I and so many others have lost a friend. Most importantly, I'm feeling sad for S who has lost a husband, four grown children who have lost a father, and a church who has lost its pastor.

Pray that they will feel God's presence surrounding them, and that God will give them comfort, peace, and strength. Also pray for S's congregations, that God will show them how to support her and her family in this time of intense grief.

I am currently deciding if I am going to attend the funeral, which is Tuesday morning. It's a five-hour trip, but I could do it in one day if necessary. And since I'm on-call the night before, I have the next day off. Part of me really wants to go, as a gesture of love and support for S...and to say goodbye to J.

But--and here's where the selfishness comes in--part of me shudders and writhes in agony at the thought of going back to that area again. It was a source of so much pain, and I know I'd see lots of members of SJ at the funeral (or I'd expect to, anyway. If your pastor's husband dies, you'd damn well better go to the funeral if at all possible). There's the potential for re-opening of old wounds, both on my side and theirs. Do I really want to/need to deal with that?

Another aspect to this is: what would my presence at the funeral mean to S herself? I haven't heard from her in a few months (she may have been busy, what with two churches and a goat farm) and I'm wondering if the W-2 episode (see March's archives) might have caused her to be irritated/fed up with me. Of course, her father died in March and her daughter just got married, so I imagine that life has been fairly chaotic this spring/summer.

I have to make a decision by tomorrow morning, so I can make the arrangements to be gone if necessary.

If you were me, what would you do in this situation? Understand, I'm not asking you to TELL me what to do. I'm simply asking for your thoughts.


Pastor Joelle said...

I think you follow your gut. Just make sure you reach out to your friend in some way. You don't have to actually be at the funeral. I remember that as pretty much a blur anyway.

mompriest said...

I agree with Joelle. Your presence at the funeral itself may not be critical....what about a week later, when every one has gone and everyone thinks her life ought to be returning to normal....that's when she may really need a friend to bring her a cup of coffee and listen.

God_Guurrlll said...

I agree with both Joelle and mompriest. Send her a card or flowers to her home to let her know you are thinking of her.

I'm here! Now what? said...

Grieving with you. A remarkable family. S reached out and welcomed me to the district. Wish I could drop everything and go.