A curated collection of grief-related poetry, books, prayers, and more.
Resources for Grief
All pastors know that ministering to people in grief is a big part of ministry. But all pastors likewise know that ministry itself—as well as life just generally—can serve up plenty of grief to those same pastors. How do we deal with grief in its various forms? How can we minister out of our own grief? How does our pastoral awareness of grief in the congregation—as well as in our own lives—shape preaching? Can we provide pastoral care from the pulpit?
At two week-long seminars in the summers of 2019 and 2022 Neal Plantinga and Scott Hoezee gathered
twenty pastors each time to share ideas and insights on these kinds of questions. This resource page grew out of these seminars. Here you will find book suggestions, articles, links to websites, sample prayers addressing grief, and more that can help people in ministry encounter grief with the hope and grace of the Gospel. We hope and pray the resources here will be enriching, encouraging, and useful in multiple ministry settings.
Theme: Love is Stronger Than Death
Theme: Christ Be With Us as We Grieve
Theme: Reading and Writing Poetry as Healing From Grief
Theme: Classic Poetry about Death
Theme: Prayers/Praying About Death
Theme: Carrying the Weight of Grief
Reflections on Grief
Billings, J. Todd. Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ. Brazos Press, 2015.
Bowler, Kate. Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved. Random House, reprint edition 2019.
Lewis, C. S. A Grief Observed. HarperOne, 2015.
Sittser, Jerry L. A Grace Disguised Revised and Expanded: How the Soul Grows Through Loss. Zondervan, 2021.
Grief and Ministry/Church
Doka, Kenneth J., editor. Disenfranchised Grief: New Directions, Challenges, and Strategies for Practice. Research Press, 2002.
Hamman, Jaco J. When Steeples Cry: Leading Congregations through Loss and Change. Pilgrim Press, 2005.
Ministry Leadership in Difficult Times
Dittes, James E. Re-Calling Ministry. Edited by Donald Capps, Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2010.
Harbaugh, Gary L. Pastor As Person: Maintaining Personal Integrity in the Choices and Challenges of Ministry. Fortress Press, 1985.
Hoge, Dean R., and Jacqueline E. Wenger. Pastors in Transition: Why Clergy Leave Local Church Ministry. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2005.
Linsky, Martin, and Ronald A. Heifetz. Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading. Harvard Business Review, 2002.
McFayden, Kenneth J. Strategic Leadership for a Change: Facing Our Losses, Finding Our Future. Alban Institute, 2009.
Nouwen, Henri J. M. The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society. Doubleday (An Image Book), 1979.
Video Resources for Grief
“Loss, Leadership, and a Learning Legacy”, Gustavus Adolphus College; Continuous Growth Pathway. By Rev. Marc Nelesen, each video is about 2 hours long. Posted with permission from Rev. Marc Nelesen. Three presentations: Feb 4, Feb 25, and March 18, 2021.
"Everything happens for a reason" -- and other lies I've loved | Kate Bowler
In life's toughest moments, how do you go on living? Kate Bowler has been exploring this question ever since she was diagnosed with stage IV cancer at age 35. In a profound, heartbreaking and unexpectedly funny talk, she offers some answers -- challenging the idea that "everything happens for a reason" and sharing hard-won wisdom about how to make sense of the world after your life is suddenly, completely changed. "I believe that in the darkness, even there, there will be beauty and there will be love," she says.