Speaking of Dying

The antipathy that often underlies the relationships between clergy and funeral director is well known.  Dealing with death in a society that is increasingly unchurched creates too many unfortunate stories for which the funeral director feels blamed.

But there are signs of a new awakening within the church and I believe this awakening will lead to a greater receptivity on the part of the clergy to our expertise.  This blog review of a new book directed at the church’s failure to properly care for the dying is one excellent example.

“Victims of the Wrong Story”. It describes congregations and pastors who lived inside a story that is not the story of the gospel. As they write: “A brief diagnosis of what went wrong in the dying of the ten pastors is that the entire approach and handling of illness, care, and final end of life were outsourced … Death is a condition, a state, but dying is a story … Just what story is at work here?” Read more…

What I would Do:

I would order the book and read it.  If it is what I think it is I would then proceed to schedule a lunch with pastors in my area (I might even target the more obstreperous).  I would give them the book as a gift and explain that I am concerned that our society is not meeting the needs of the dying and that we believe we can help.  I would point to initiatives like The Conversation Project at Harvard.  Then I would offer to help in setting up programs to help people talk openly about dying.  I WOULD NOT HAVE A SELLING AGENDA, ONLY A RELATIONSHIP AGENDA.

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