Last Tuesday, a member of the congregation in which I served passed away after battling with cancer for a year or so. When I first arrived to the congregation almost two years ago, he was one of the first people I met, aside from the senior pastor and the secretary. To make me feel welcome, the church did a food donation for me. This particular man gave me two blocks of cheese and a bottle of Port. When the senior pastor arrived, he was given tons of cans of mandarin oranges "because they were on sale."
This was the humor of this man. All throughout his struggle over the cancer, he kept his chin up and always had a smile on his face and a quick-witted comment to give. During the last days of his life, he was in severe pain. He had tubes connected to him all over his body. He told me, "Spiritually and mentally I’m ready to die; I’m just waiting for the rest of my body to catch up." It took just over a week for his body to catch up.
The question that I pose is this: when do we as clergy mourn? We can’t mourn during the visitation. We can’t mourn during the service. We can’t mourn at the committal. When is it appropriate for the pastor to mourn the loss of a beloved member?