Dear Careful Pastor:
My last parish was just 6 miles from my very first church so I know that there is often times a bit of emotional overlap. I think you did just fine. You went with the new pastor's grateful permission. You did the merciful thing for the family AND then had the graciousness for the pastor to be absent for the funeral. However, let it be known that you are not available to make hospital calls even for all those friends in the old parish. They will eventually get the message.
This is one of the hardest parts of ministry that I know. I have been gone from my last parish 2 years and am 1,000 miles away but I still care about those folks and wonder about them. I have people in all my previous parishes that I keep up with online but NEVER suggest anything, save my prayers. Those friends know that we clergy have boundaries we are obliged to keep. We always need to check ourselves to know if we are responding to the needs of others because of our own need or the needs of others. All too often we are dealing with our own needs. It is a good way to check our motivations.
I do think we can maintain 'friends' in our previous churches without adding to the pastoral burdens of our succeeding pastors. Being clear about your boundaries is important.
And Terri writes: