Devotional Thought for Today – 04/27/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part XVII

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Over the last 16 articles in this series, we have looked at a number of things dealing with Grief as they relate to Chaplains. Today I hope to summarize and close the series.

Psalm 34:18-19

Everyone will experience some form of grief at some point in their lives. From the beginning, we made it clear that we consider the primary mission of a Chaplain to be to provide Compassionate Care, Comfort, and Counsel (4 C’s) to those assigned to them.

We began by giving a few general thoughts on Chaplaincy and a list of some hotlines for crisis situations. Next, we began looking at grief itself by listing the traditional 5 Stages of Grief and spent the next 6 days looking at them and then the more modern 7 stages of grief.

The article in the series was one of the most important (in my opinion) it was a list of some dos and don’ts that I have gleaned over the years. Believe me when I say I made a lot of don’t in order to figure out the dos. Finally, we defined Chaplain’s duties and responsibilities in general and then in specific job settings over the remaining article.

We looked at many things but, we did not look at the individual, the patient, the victim, in whatever the situation the Chaplain finds themself dealing with. I remember studying or reading (I honestly can’t find the reference) a Client’s Bill of Rights, in reference to the Stages of Grief:

  1. Your grief is unique to you and you have a right to experience your way. – The grief process is different for everyone and we can not force someone into a mold or pre-designed recovery program.
  2. You can talk about your grief in your own way. – Some folks naturally open up and want to talk others tend to be more retrospective. Again we can not and should not force them. Good Chaplains are good listeners.
  3. You have a right to be very emotional. – Most folks experience a multitude of emotions when grieving and that is okay, as long as the emotions are not harmful to themselves or others. Another thing to be watchful for is emotional outbursts, crying and even anger are common. These emotions can be draining so listen to your body get the extra rest you need.
  4. You have the right to a Funeral – COVID really hurt many in more ways than one. The inability to hold traditional burial rituals denied people the ability to mourn. Even “non-religious” folks usually adhere to this ritual as a way to mourn. It is there right.
  5. Religion plays a big part in many grief situations. We mentioned this before, this is not an opportunity for Chaplains to push religion, but to practice their 4-C’s no matter the person’s beliefs.
  6. Why? – You have a right to search for answers this is common and sometimes healthy (I say sometimes because it can become an unhealthy obsession) by encouraging folks to seek answers many times we are encouraging them to open up to the simple truths.
  7. Remembrance You have a right to your memories especially of all the good times. It prepares us for moving on with the full grief process and life.
  8. Life – You have a right to move on with your life, no matter how crappy you feel initially there is hope and things can get better.

Although the above is more tailored towards the death of a loved one, it is applicable and adaptable to any situation. There is so much more that could (and maybe should) be written. There are of course limitless resources on Grief counseling available via the internet. As with any source (including this one) I encourage everyone to be a Berean (Acts 17:11) and do due diligence in verifying the truth and effectiveness of the material.

I pray that this series has somehow edified you and Glorified God.


I found the following perspective on Grief very interesting, I hope you enjoy reading or listening to it.

Trauma, Pain, and Loss: A Doctor’s Story of Faith and Healing

In this interview, Katie Butler discusses her work as a trauma surgeon working in the ICU and shares what it was like to be inundated with life and death situations day in and day out.

She explains how she coped with the stress of the job and eventually began to see God’s grace at work even in the midst of deep pain and tragedy. She also shares what she saw working in a hospital at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/23/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part XVI

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As we come to the final job area of Chaplains, a reminder we started this with describing 14 specific jobs and then breaking that down into 5 job categories.

Today’s final job area for Chaplains that of Public Safety. This category encompasses:

  1. Law enforcement
  2. Fire and rescue
  3. Emergency medical services
  4. Emergency dispatch
  5. Jail/Prisons

Public Safety Chaplains like all the Chaplains we have discussed so far work for the most part, in high-stress situations. Whether they are riding along with Police, Fire, EMS, Border Patrol, Homeland Security or maybe it is the 911 dispatch of a major city things are happening at a fast pace. Of course, there are those who choose to serve behind locked gates. where the threat of violence is very real. Having served as a Police Officer (part-time) back in the 80s and more recently as a Prison Chaplain, I have some knowledge in this area.

Psalm 82:3-4

Their job/mission like all the others is to provide those 4-C’s, Compassionate Care, Comfort, and Counsel in those environments to staff and individuals (inmates, families, and friends of victims of traumatic events) In most cases Chaplains work quietly behind the scenes sometimes advising the on-scene commanders or warden of needs of the personnel. Public Safety Chaplains are dedicated to ministering to all folks no matter their religious beliefs and always respect the beliefs of those whom they serve.

Some of the things all these jobs can have in common are conducting services (worship funeral, baptism, retirements, etc.) prayer meetings, hospital visitations, family visitations, family counseling, and of course the catch-all, other duties as assigned 😀.

I could continue to ramble on, but I will instead give some examples of Chaplain Job descriptions:

Here are the duties of a Police Chaplain as listed by the International Association of Police Chaplains:

Duties of a Chaplain (Fire) from Sandoval County New Mexico

Prison Chaplaincy Careers (Duties) from Missioui Deptartment of Corrections

Why Prison Ministry?

Here is a tool I hope will be helpful, back when I was Sr. Chaplain at the County Jail I used this as a training aid for potential new volunteers. I figured if they could sit through a 6-hour block of instruction plus the slamming (and locking) of the prison doors (some never made it past that point) they might be candidates for the Sherrif to interview also:

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/21/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part XV

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Today we will look at the fourth job area for Chaplains that of the Military. Most Chaplains depending on their denomination are appointed, commissioned, or ordained. All military Chaplains are officers so they are Commissioned, some also ordained by their governing denominations. In addition, most commands above the company level (Amry, Air Force, and Marines, I assume the Navy and Coast Guard are much the same) have enlisted Chaplain assistants.

In the Army, the driving leadership motto was always “My Mission, My Men, Myself.” Meaning the success of the mission was paramount taking care of your men came a close second then worry about yourself. I mention this to note that along with Beans, Bullets and the like the Spiritual needs of the men was always a concern.

During my enlistment ’74-’94 I held many MOS’s (job specialties) but never Chaplain assistant. However, as a First Sergeant and Operations Sergeant, I worked closely with the Chaplains staff to ensure the spiritual needs of the men were being met.

Military Chaplains have big responsibilities and big shoulders. Not only do they have to be that person who can carry out the 4-C’s (compassionate Care, Comfort, and Counsel) for the service member, command, and families, they must also be ready to don the combat gear and go into harm’s way.

The U.S. Army recruiting Command in their literature says the following:

A chaplain’s mission is to bring Soldiers to God and God to Soldiers. America calls on our Army to fight and win our nation’s wars and Army chaplains are there every step of the way. Whether in training or operations, Army chaplains represent hundreds of American denominations and faith traditions and fulfill a sacred calling of service captured in our motto, “Pro Deo et Patria” (for God and country)

https://recruiting.army.mil/MRB_ReligiousServices/
A Soldier's Psalm 91 Prayer.

Instead of me rambling on any further about these brave service members let me share an article from one fellow soldier:

The Responsibilities of an Army Chaplain

Jonathan C. Gibbs III


Soldier’s Prayer Blog Post with downloadable links

One final note, maybe you would like to “serve” as a military Chaplain but you think the opportunity is gone due to age, or some other issue, consider checking with your local state militia.

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/20/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part XIV

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As we continue our series today’s job topic is Medical. I will get into the specific in a moment, but like in the Business/Corporate world, I have no “direct” experience here. What I do have is years of experience as an Army Medic, visiting countless veteran homes and VA facilities and serving as a “sitter” (someone who sits with a terminal patient).

Logos.com

Romans 9:16

Under the Medical umbrella for Chaplain jobs, I have identified five (5) distinct areas as follows:

  • Hospice
  • Hospitals
  • Long-Term Care
  • Mental Health
  • Palliative Care

All Chaplains./ Ministerial Care personnel have the same basic mission or job description that I have been stressing from the beginning; the 4-C’s; Compassionate Care, Comfort, and Counsel. It is just the environment or the conditions of the environment may change.

Hospice: is never an easy decision for an individual and family to make. Hospice care is usually reserved for those:

  • Medical care helping someone with a terminal illness live as well as possible for as long as possible, increasing quality of life.
  • An interdisciplinary team of professionals who address physical, psychosocial, and spiritual distress focused on both the dying person and their entire family.
  • Care that addresses symptom management, coordination of care, communication and decision making, clarification of goals of care, and quality of life. https://hospicefoundation.org/Hospice-Care/Hospice-Services

Hospice Chaplains are dealing with a unique situation in that patients and families know that death is eminent and that medicine has done all it can. Both the individual, families and Staff are dealing with very stressful situation. We can be a conduit between these folks and there local clergy, a shoulder to lean on and as before continually practicing the 4-C’s

Hospitals: While some larger hospitals have hospice care facilities in them I separated these, as the day to day routine of the patient is different.

Again the goal or mission is to apply the 4-C’s in a non-denominational way to provide support for changes in lives, grief, loss, and any other physical or emotional vulnerability we encounter.

In the Crisis/Disaster Devotional yesterday, I called us Spiritual First Aid and Emotional Support Chaplains. Today, we are more like Beacons, guiding patients, families, and sometimes staff through the journey of being hospitalized.

Long-Term Care: When I was a kind the common term was “Nursing Home” today we see Assisted Living, Long Term Care, or Senior Living Centers. Call them what one may the challenges here are some of what we read above but also having to deal with the added (in some cases) onset of things like Dementia, Parkinson’s, and the like. Again a quick personal story, my uncle died in a nursing home when I was a boy, I remember visiting him this once taller-than-life WWII hero, who had shriveled up to a half-man with Parkinson’s and did not even know me. That memory of the anguish in his face has never left me, nearly 55 years later. Whatever we can do applying the 4-C’s to relieve that anguish is a winner for me.

Mental Health: I have run into my fair share of Mental Health Professionals over the years who blatantly dismiss religion as a crutch and nothing more. That is unfortunate because working together we can often do great things.

Again I have never worked in a MH facility, but while serving as a prison chaplain I was often called to consult with MH patients who were unruly or agitated. Here again the non-judgemental 4-C’s approach, of calmly speaking to the individual, finding there need, (what faith is any, how it is affecting them, are they hooked up with a local church, do their spiritual views say they about getting help, offering to help within legal bounds) was effective more times than not.

It seems that my sincere approach and the fact that it was confidential (I was often asked about clergy privilege) they were willing to open up to me rather than the MH professional. This then became a great tool for their overall treatment plan as I could make suggestions to the MH folks without compromising that confidentiality.

Another rising need for MH Chaplains is in the area of Suicide Prevention. The “official” government number that we see published is 22-a-Day veterans commit suicide but that is a grossly under reported number according to most veteran groups. Prior to FB cancelling me I was the Chaplain for a few groups and would get 2-3 messages a month from folks just fed up and frustrated with life. I am not, and do not pretend to be a professional at this so I always tried to get them to the National Hotline.

Palliative Care: If you had asked me a couple of years ago what Palliative Care was I would have given you that black dumbfounded stare. Then a friend’s daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia and has spent many days weeks and months in the hospital. This led me to research Leukemia and an article on Palliative Care. Their site says it is:

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of the illness. The goal is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Palliative care is provided by a specially-trained team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care is based on the needs of the patient, not on the patient’s prognosis. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and it can be provided along with curative treatment.

Palliative care teams focus on the quality of life. They treat people suffering from the symptoms and stress of serious illnesses such as cancercongestive heart failure (CHF)chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)kidney diseaseAlzheimer’sParkinson’sAmyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and many more.

In closing, you are probably wondering why I did not comment at all on todays’ Bible verse, Romans 9:16. I wanted to finish then make this observation. Our job is not to “play god” no amount of faith can change the outcome that God has preordained from before the foundation of the world. What we can and must do is be that committed, compassionate individual who applies the 4-C’s in such a manner that f0olks just naturally want to open up to them.

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/19/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part XIII

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I apologize for the delay in continuing this series. Between doctors and other appointments Thursday and Friday last week I just never got caught up. I know I have often said the maximum effective range of an excuse is zero meters 🤨 but please forgive me.

So last time we began looking at specific Chaplain jobs and we began with the business or corporate field of which I honestly have no experience. Today however I want to look at Chaplains in the area of Crisis and Disasters of which I have considerable experience.

https://scontent.fmem1-2.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t31.18172-8/24173022_307826759717564_9070340403907634681_o.jpg?_nc_cat=104&ccb=1-3&_nc_sid=cdbe9c&_nc_ohc=EFus2UTe0xkAX9OmIL6&_nc_ht=scontent.fmem1-2.fna&oh=15d6a87c4965754c11e0cabbf7f0c6c5&oe=60A2A797
Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico Nov 2017
Near Mt. Juliet, TN Tornado, March 2020

First, let us say that anyone going through any traumatic situation is experiencing a personal crisis, however, that is not necessarily what we are addressing here. A crisis for this devotional implies a personal disaster, ie. a single home burning down. The term disaster implies a natural disaster as in a flood, hurricane, tornado, etc.

Depending on where you are called to work in a disaster situation you can be in for some pretty stressful scenes. I have been working on Earthquakes, Flood, Hurricanes, Wildfires, and the like since the ’70s and have seen some very ugly sights. One of the hardest things to see and deal with is the desperation on folks’ faces as they deal with the TOTAL loss of everything they own.

I can not stress enough the mission of Crisis/Disaster Chaplains is to provide Spiritual First Aid and Emotional Support. It is that same 4-C’s; Compassionate Care, Comfort, and Counsel just in a very difficult environment.

Another “Disaster” that has become more prevalent in recent years is the man-made kind. Think of mass shootings, riots, and the like these can not be classified as “personal” because they rarely affect just one individual or family. Most often they affect an entire community.

Chaplain MUST identify the victims of any disasters. I say this because It has been my experience that some people are not victims and will try and milk the system and con you for all they can get.

The Southern Baptist Convention Handbook for Disaster Chaplains list three types of victims:

  1. Direct victims—those in the immediate area of the destruction who have suffered losses
  2. Indirect victims—those who are not directly impacted by the disaster, but are somewhat affected by the resulting annoyances and inconveniences or have close relationships with direct victims
  3. Hidden victims—those who respond to the disaster as first responders and relief workers, including law enforcement, emergency medical services, disaster relief chaplaincy, and disaster services
Luke 6:36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.  | New Living Translation (NLT) | Download The Bible App Now

Luke 6:36

Once Identified it is incumbent upon the assigned Chaplain to be ready to apply not only the 4-C’s but also to identify the needs of the community. I am not much on Phycho-Bable but I do remember studying Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs back in college years ago and have used it many times since.

As a Crisis/Disaster Chaplain Maslow’s bottom, two needs Psychological (food, water, warmth, rest) and Safety (security and safety) are the two I most commonly dealt with. I can tell you how many cases of water we handed out in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, but just walking down the streets with bottles of water got people talking. In major large-scale disasters/disruptions Chaplains would also get involved with helping find or direct folks to finding loved ones (3rd need).

One last thing, this is not an opportunity to proselytize or try and force religion on someone. It is an opportunity to provide those 4-C’s in a non-judgmental manner offering the hope that faith in Christ brings.

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/14/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part XII

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In yesterday’s posting, we began looking at the various roles or positions that Chaplains can hold. We listed a total of 14 and I have broken those into 5 main areas:

  • Business
  • Disaster
  • Medical
  • Military
  • Public Safety

As we look at each of these areas I hope to expand upon them, give some idea of a job description, roles filled, and the need for the Chaplains in each. Under the heading of Business, I have grouped the following; Corporate, NGO’s and other Private Organizations, Sports Teams and Workplace.

People spend more time at work than anywhere else. But just because they go to work does not mean they’ve left their worries at home. Anxieties crowd out focused work time. Hospital visits create mounting unpaid days off. Illness and death devastate families and burden employees with skyrocketing health care costs.

Employees are not the only ones who suffer during crises. Time after time, employers repeat stories of inadequate workplace support programs and feelings of helplessness.

https://chaplain.org/mission/

First I had no idea the number of Chaplains serving in positions like this across America nor the need until I started looking for a Chaplaincy position myself. Jobs in corporate America kept popping up. I found the following job description helpful:

A corporate chaplain provides spiritually-based care to persons in the context of their employment, respecting the diversity of the workforce being served. They respond to individual and family needs, as well as work-life concerns such as job stress, coworker relations, and career direction. They also provide consultation to management about issues affecting employee and company well-being, including organizational change, ethical challenges, conflict resolution, team development, and outplacement. Corporate chaplains are called upon to lead first responder teams in the event of critical incidents affecting the workplace. Corporate chaplains are highly trained in the services they provide, whether this takes place on the corporate premises or externally at a chaplaincy provider center.

https://www.spiritualcareassociation.org/corporate

Employees in corporations big or small all have problems, many times they do not want or feel comfortable sharing those problems/issues with their boss or the HR department. That is where the Chaplain can be most helpful.

The same applies to NGOs, Private Companies, and Sports Teams. Remember as Chaplains our primary mission is to provide compassionate care, comfort, and counsel (4 C’s) to those assigned to us. Making our presence known in these businesses, being seen, being accessible, having an open-door policy, lets folks know they can come to you for those 4 C’s.

One thing we/I can never forget as a Chaplain is that the folks we serve may or may not have the same ideals, morals, or standards as we do. Therefore we must approach the position with a few assumptions:

  1. We strive to make folks better through the 4C’s
  2. We minister within the spirituality of those we serve, that is we do not impose our religiosity upon them
  3. Every person has some spirituality but not everyone is religious

This does not mean we “give up” our beliefs in order to serve, God forbid. It just means we do not serve with disdain, judgement or imposing our beliefs upon others.

Romans 1:1

In closing, you may have noted I left Workplace off the above list I did so purposely. Although it would seem to fit or even be another way of saying the same thing, here it refers to our own workplace. Many Chaplains (volunteer, part-time, etc.) are bi-vocational. As such, their other “workplace” is no less a place where they can be a servant of God and the Gospel of Christ.

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/14/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part XI

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Yesterday we looked at some dos and don’ts of Chaplaincy. Today I would like to explore two things, first the difference between Chaplains and Pastors, and the various positions or jobs that a Chaplain can hold.

1 Peter 4:10 - Each of you should use whatever gift you have r...

1 Peter 4:10

I am convinced that Chaplaincy or any Ministerial position (Pastor, elder, etc.) must be more than a job it needs to be both a calling from God and a gift of the Holy Spirit. If we approach this like any other (secular) job, what happens when we grow bored, are tired, or get a little burnt out? Do we quit on God? Trust me all of those are a reality in the hard roles of Chaplains.

Chaplains and Pastors usually differ in that usually whereever a Chaplain is serving there is not a Chaplain for every Christian denomination. In fact they maybe the only Chaplain for all denominations (this is real common in smaller jail settings; for example I was the only Chaplain for a 250+ person facility that housed Buddhists, Catholics, Muslims, Protestants, and others.) Pastors on the other hand rarely have a need to minister outside their church or denomination. Of course there are exceptions to both but the “norm” is such.

What is most important for us as Chaplains is what I have continued to refer to as our mission to provide compassion, care, comfort, and counsel no matter the individuals personal beliefs.

The roles of Chaplains are many. The Association of Professional Chaplains says: A chaplain is an individual who is ordained or endorsed by a faith group to provide chaplaincy care in diverse settings including, but not limited to:

  • Colleges and Universities
  • Corrections
  • Hospice
  • Hospitals
  • Long-Term Care
  • Mental Health
  • Military
  • Palliative Care
  • Sports Teams
  • Workplace

Here are some I think are also critical:

  • Business/Corporate
  • Crisis/Disaster Relief
  • NGO’s and other Private Organizations
  • Public Safety (Fire, Police, Etc.)

Can you add to the list? We will explore each in more detail over the next couple of days.

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/13/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part X

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Over the past 9 articles, we have looked at the basics of what a Chaplain/Ministerial duties or mission is (provide compassionate care, comfort, and counsel) and the Stages of Grief. We noted the importance of understanding what stage an individual is in so that we can better minister to their needs.

Today I would like to discuss some dos and don’ts that I have gleaned over the years. As a reminder, my primary duties as Chaplain have been with inmates (and ex-mates) and veterans, of that population however quite a few have had mental health, serious physical, terminal illness, or other issues that I hope to relate to all areas of Chaplaincy.

Some of the things I find most important when dealing with individuals in the Stages of Grief, or the DO’s (I put them in alphabetical order)

  • Affirmation – reassure them that the feelings of grief are normal and support them in the process.
  • Acknowledgment– Do not try and sugarcoat the situation. I am not suggesting we be blunt, rude, or anything of that nature. I am referring to the language that Paul mentions in Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 4:6.
  • Empathize – One of the best explanations for this I studied explained it this way; Pity: I acknowledge your suffering, Sympathy: I care about your suffering, Empathy: I feel your suffering, Compassion: I want to relieve your suffering. In short, empathy is sharing feelings of Grief with the individual, while Sympathy is feeling sorry for them. No one wants you to throw a pity party for them or feel sorry for them, they need you as a professional to provide Compassionate Empathy.
  • Listen – I do not care if you have to sit there for 15-20 minutes before they say 3 words, be willing to listen. everyone has a story and 99.9% need to tell it.
  • Listen without Judgement – Folks will not talk if they think you are going to censor their speech.
  • Truth – Always be truthful, if you don’t have an answer say so, do not “wing it” folks will see right through that.

Some of the most common MISTAKES I find when dealing with individuals in the Stages of Grief, or the DON’Ts (I put them in alphabetical order)

  • AdviceMy advice to you is…, that is not our mission, they are going to get that from the Job’s of the world. Stick to the mission and use biblical counseling.
  • Assume – Never assume you know what they need, yes they need Care, Comfort, and Counsel, but I am speaking of the application of that here.
  • CichésThey are in a better place now, It was God’s will, or At least he/she is not suffering. These may all be true but are of no help especially in the initial stages of Grief.
  • Criticism – Even unintentional, saying something seemingly as harmless as, I know but you can… tells them that you think they are doing something wrong and are criticizing or judging their actions. They are suffering enough we need not pile it on.
  • Mr. or Mrs. Fix It – Never promise what you can not do. Sometimes there are individuals beyond our help that need professional counselors.
  • Pity – See Empathize above
  • Story Time – Unless directly asked keep your war stories to yourself. They only distract from the issues at hand.

I hope these are a help, when I first became a Chaplain I was basically thrown to the wolves, with no training so I made many mistakes listed above. If you have anything to add to either list please comment below.


Prayer

Heavenly Father, I pray that no unwholesome words would proceed from my mouth, but that the words of my lips and the meditation of my heart may be gracious and good. I pray that my speech would give compassionate care, comfort and counsel to those whom I meet. All the while giving honour to Your name by speaking the truth in love. This I ask in Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Modified from Source: https://prayer.knowing-jesus.com/Ephesians/4/29


Crisis Hotlines

855-FAQ-HOSPICE (327-4677) – Hospice Hotline

1-800-662-HELP (4357) Mental Health Hotline

1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Hotline

1-800-273-8255 Veterans Crisis Hotline

1-800-985-5990 Disaster Distress Hotline

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/09/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part – VIII

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Today we continue our series by looking at the last stage of the 5 Stages of GriefAcceptance.

Many times as Chaplains and Ministers we never see this stage as the individuals we are dealing with have gone home or moved to another facility. That does not make it any less important to understand, mainly because it is the goal or end mark of the grief process.

If I may use an analogy (I hope it is not to bad of one) I think of this stage like getting ready to move. Being retired military and a missionary we have moved many times over the years, to many to remember. Each time it gets harder to seperate from friends and family. Yet, that is just what we must do seperate the old and prepare for the new. As in moving we pack up our old memories and prepare to make new ones. That does not mean we forget them, never, we just pack up and prepare to move on from them.

Another caution is that someone showing signs of acceptance DOES NOT always mean a wholesale transformation out of Grief. Folks can slip back into “lower” stages easily, especially those prone to depression and other mental health issues. Restrained encouragement, can go a long way here when someone reaches out and shows the beginning signs of acceptance.

Acceptance doesn’t mean someone is okay with the loss, illness, injury, situation, etc. it just means they have or are beginning to accept it as reality. The pain, anger, depression all seem to lessen and they can move on with life, albeit in a new way. One of the greatest tools in someones tool box is PST, Positive Self Talk. If they say it they can start to believe it. Here are some examples of this:

  • Death of a FriendI was so blessed to have many years with them and will always cherish those memories.
  • Job or Financial LossI will recover from this and find an even better job.
  • Terminal IllnessI will have an opportunity to get my affairs in order and spend time with friends and family
  • InjuryOkay, so I can’t climb ladders and work construction anymore but I still can ride my trike

Once again I think it prudent to state the mission of Chaplain/Ministerial personal is to provide Care, Comfort and Counsel for the Grieving. In this the Acceptance Stage, we need to be that encourager, God’s cheerleader if you will, reminding them of all He promises and the hope for tomorrow, The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army];

Habakkuk 3:17–19 (ESV) - Habakkuk 3:17–19 ESV - Though the fig tree… |  Biblia

Habakkuk 3:17-19


Additional Information/Resources:

Acceptance: Case Study

Kübler-Ross and Kessler use the story of Keith to illustrate the acceptance stage of grief.

Keith’s son was randomly shot by a gang member while walking home from a sports arena. In the months that followed his son’s death, Keith and his wife were consumed with anger as they spent their days and nights investigating their son’s murder.

A well-meaning friend tried to tell Keith that he needed to “move on” and “accept” his son’s death, which only further angered Keith. While Keith could acknowledge the reality of his loss, it was unrealistic for his friend to think that Keith should have found some peace with it so soon after his son’s death.

After the killer was caught, Keith became consumed with the trial. After the trial was over and the killer was convicted, Keith had to contend with his grief and emptiness. There was no longer a trial to distract his attention.

In the 5 years that followed, Keith found acceptance, or so he thought. He felt the acceptance drain out of him when he heard that his son’s killer was up for parole. By the time the parole hearing rolled around, Keith was once again filled with anger. He attended the parole hearing and was struck by how quickly it was over. He saw the tears of the killer’s father when parole was denied. For the first time since his son’s death, Keith realized that there were other victims of this crime.

And for the first time, his anger was replaced by curiosity. Keith approached the killer’s father. He wanted to learn about the killer and what had led him to this place. Over the next few years, the two fathers formed an alliance to help gang members stop the violence. They visited many inner city schools to share their story.On Grief and Grieving, pgs. 27 & 28, Kübler-Ross and Kessler write: “Keith’s acceptance was a journey that was deeper than he ever expected.

“And it happened over many year, not many months or days. “Not everyone will or can fully embrace those who have hurt us, as Keith did, but there is always a struggle that leads us to our own personal and unique acceptance.”

5 Tips For Dealing with the Acceptance Stage of Grief

  • Understand that acceptance is learning to live with your new norm where your loved one is no longer here. Understand that you will never be okay with the fact that your loved one died. {or that you have a terminal disease, life changing injury, etc.} Acceptance is a process that we experience, not a final stage with an endpoint.
  • Be patient with yourself and don’t expect yourself to reach the acceptance stage of grief quickly. The process could take years. You could also ebb in and out of the acceptance stage.
  • Keep a gratitude journal and write in it daily. Make a note of anything that gave you even the briefest moment of relief from your pain. As examples: a memory of your loved one that made you smile; a visit from a neighbour to see how you are doing; a beautiful sunrise or sunset. Keeping a gratitude journal will help you look for things in your day that are positive, no matter how small they may seem to others. As you read back through your gratitude journal, you may find yourself growing in your “gratitude attitude”. Remember, acceptance may simply be having more good days than bad. {Write a prayer journal, keep promises fulfilled by God, think of Glories seen and known}
  • Find ways to commemorate the life, love and legacy of the person that you miss. {memorials are one thing, just be cautious not to “enshrine” someone to the point of idolizing}
  • If a year has passed since the day your loved one died {or life changing event occured} but you still feel “stuck” in your grief—your mourning still feels intense—see a professional therapist.

The above with my adds, from: 5 Stages of Grief & How to Survive Them


How can we learn to trust God like the prophet Habakkuk (Habakkuk 3:17-19)?

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/07/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part VI

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Today we continue our series by looking at the third stage of the 5 Stages of GriefDepression.

Like so many other things Christians with enough faith should never get is depressed. At least that was the story we got told about my wife’s condition from a so called well meaning “friend”. Of course, this well-meaning person also was not a doctor and did no investigative questioning before blurting out the statement. I mention this not for sympathy, but to underscore the need for Chaplains and Ministers to make all due diligence in understanding the condition and history of those they are serving. I know with HIPAA this can be daunting but being well informed can greatly help in our care, comfort and counsel process.

I have yet to meet anyone going through the grief process that does not experience Depression in some manner. The obvious signs will usually manifest themselves as feelings of intense sadness, hopelessness, lack of energy, and other very detrimental effects that may affect the individual. It is important to note that these can be sublime and hidden in some folks. Again, using my wife, for example, she suffered a stroke due to poisoning before we met. She suffers from depression that is treated with counseling and medication. Her response to loss, like the recent death of her mom, is “I’m alright” even though she clearly was not. Like most folks (estimates as high as 67% of people suffering from depression) She just tries to grin and bear it. My wife because of her medical condition processes things differently and we (chaplains/ministers) need to be on the alert for this and any out of the “ordinary” situation and know when we are in over our heads. Here is a good list of types of depression.

So, what is depression? First depression is not just being sad. I lost my wedding band a few months ago, I was sad (even a little afraid of what my wife would say 😀)) but not depressed. Depression is sad on super steroids. It is constant here is the clinical definition:

The clinical definition, based on the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5), is “a period of at least two weeks when a person experienced a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities and had a majority of specified symptoms, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, or self-worth.” This definition excludes grief after mourning.

Before we move on I think it would be helpful reminder to list some of the things that one could encounter as a Chaplain/Minister in the Grief process that could lead to depression:

  • Trauma
  • Painful past experiences (PTSD)
  • Chronic Pain
  • Incarceration
  • Job loss or cut in pay
  • Financial problems
  • Parenting concerns and raising respectful, resilient kids
  • Loss
  • Life-changing illness
  • Marriage/relationship issues

The second thing to note about depression is that is often MISDIAGNOSED. Far too often healthcare professionals and Chaplains/Ministers are quick to say someone who has experienced one of these issues is depressed. Many times they are simply melancholy, which means intense sadness but a far cry from clinically depressed.

Another thing that might surprise some is that stage 2 (ANGER) can rear its ugly head here again. Let me explain, folks can socially withdraw a clear sign of depression setting in, if you try and force them out of that they can become hostile. Other symptoms of Grief/Depression include:

  • Can’t concentrate or think straight
  • Restless and anxious
  • Poor appetite/ Weight loss
  • Sad demeanor
  • Dreams of the deceased or even talks to them
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling weak and tired
  • Can think of nothing but the loss, illness, or event…
  • Makes up reasons for the loss, many don’t make sense
  • Dwells on mistakes, real or imagined, that he or she made with the deceased

The last thing I have learned about this stage of Grief counseling is in this stage of Depression, where folks begin to address feelings that have been put off (consciously or unconsciously) such as abandonment, helplessness, loneliness, fear, despair, agony, etc. These are things that they did not look at during the stages of denial, anger, and bargaining.

I am not a professional Licensed Christian Counselor/Clinical Psychologist or Psychiatrist, if dealing with my wife’s condition has taught me anything, it is I need to be involved and I need to leave much of that stuff to the professionals.

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Psalm 1:1-3

As the Psalm says, we can be that care comfort, and wise counsel of the Lord’s Law to those who are in need. I am convinced it is here that Chaplains/Ministers can have the greatest impact. Again offering the care, comfort, and (compassionate) counsel that God has called us to do.