Potluck and Pie

What if you and four friends said, “No one is eating alone after a funeral. Churches have meals for members. We’re going to offer meals to families who don’t have churches.” And you became known as the people who were there in the hardest moments of life, not with answers but with presence. What if you provided potluck and pie?

Graveside service for a stillborn.

What do you say at the grave of a stillborn baby? A person who was moving in the womb and then wasn’t. A person who was part of a story that parents were writing and dreaming and decorating for, and then that story stopped.

I’m not sure what you should say. But I thought it might be helpful to tell you what I said once.

Talking about talking about death: notes on recent reading.

Because I see a lot of death as a hospital chaplain, it makes sense for me to look for ways to help people think about how to make decisions about medical and other interventions near the end of life. How to understand what is going on in the hospital and in the body. How to work within a framework to make decisions.
This is a review of books I’ve been reading.

Practical daily research

How can I get better at pastoral care? I can pay attention to my own practice, my own interactions with husbands and wives, parents and children, moments of excruciating difficulty. In each of those moments (or immediately after) I can ask myself, “What am I learning that will help me with the next one of those moments. What questions can I ask myself and others? What can I learn about attending to bits of information and infusing them back into the care all of us provide?”

Honest funeral messages.

A funeral message is a place for respect and for integrity. It’s a place to acknowledge a person’s actual humanness and God’s actual grace. With a heart toward the healing of the family and friends, we can gently describe what we know.

Elliot’s daughter found a little peace in the honest description of the dad who abandoned her and the Father who didn’t.