Devotional Thought for Today – 04/12/2021

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

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When we started this series back on March 31st I had initially thought I would take a Psalm a day dealing with grief and apply it to Chaplain/Ministerial care. Obviously, this has taken on a whole different look.

We have just finished looking at the 5 Stages of Grief, and I could leave well enough alone, but more and more today folks are expanding upon these stages and I think it prudent to look at these models.

Researching this I found two modern models a 7 Stage and a 12 Stage. We will only concern ourselves with the 7 as it closely relates to the material we have already covered.

Basically in the 5 Stages of Grief; Shock/Disbelief and Denial are combined just as Bargaining and Guilt are also combined, whereas in the 7 Stages they are spelled out. Here is an example of the 7 Stages:

The 7 stages of grief

The seven stages of grief are another popular model for explaining the many complicated experiences of loss. These seven stages include:

  • Shock and denial. This is a state of disbelief and numbed feelings.
  • Pain and guilt. You may feel that the loss is unbearable and that you’re making other people’s lives harder because of your feelings and needs.
  • Anger and bargaining. You may lash out, telling God or a higher power that you’ll do anything they ask if they’ll only grant you relief from these feelings.
  • Depression. This may be a period of isolation and loneliness during which you process and reflect on the loss.
  • The upward turn. At this point, the stages of grief like anger and pain have died down, and you’re left in a more calm and relaxed state.
  • Reconstruction and working through. You can begin to put pieces of your life back together and carry forward.
  • Acceptance and hope. This is a very gradual acceptance of the new way of life and a feeling of possibility in the future.

As an example, this may be the presentation of stages from a breakup or divorce:

  • Shock and denial: “She absolutely wouldn’t do this to me. She’ll realize she’s wrong and be back here tomorrow.”
  • Pain and guilt: “How could she do this to me? How selfish is she? How did I mess this up?” How could she leave me because of my faith?
  • Anger and bargaining: “If she’ll give me another chance, I’ll be a better boyfriend/husband. I’ll dote on her and give her everything she asks.”
  • Depression: “I’ll never have another relationship. I’m doomed to fail everyone.”
  • The upward turn: “The end was hard, but there could be a place in the future where I could see myself in another relationship.” I need to pray for her soul and not be bitter.
  • Reconstruction and working through: “I need to evaluate that relationship and learn from my mistakes.”
  • Acceptance and hope: “I have a lot to offer another person. I just have to meet them.” If God wills I will He will show me, my true helpmate.

Note: the above is from https://www.healthline.com/health/stages-of-grief#7-stages and modified to have some Christian thoughts by me.

As you can see during our previous articles we covered all the key subjects under each of the 5 Stages. Again some things to remember is that this is not a cut in stone chronological order. Some folks skip stages altogether, some go back and forth between stages before reaching Acceptance and Hope.

2 Timothy 3:14-17

As Chaplains and ministerial folks, providing compassionate care, comfort and counsel is our number one priority, and having an understanding of the stages of grief, and which one the people we have been charged with serving are in will go a long way to fulfilling that mission, v.17 so that the [a]man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

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.

The Tree Planted By Streams of Living Water (Psalm 1) - YouTube

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.

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/05/2021

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

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As we continue this series, today will look at the second stage of the  5 Stages of Grief, ANGER. I remember one being told that “a good Christian never get angry” and being a young immature believer I thought that to be true, NOT!!! Christ was angry, are we not to follow His example? The difference is He had and so should we righteous anger at things that were an abomination against the Law(s) of God. One of the best explanations for this can be found here.

A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel. Proverbs 15:18

Of course in the grief process, the Anger with which we are concerned is slightly different. After the initial onslaught of emotions, including phase 1, denial, usually comes anger. Folks can be angry at any number of people or things and their anger can range from pent-up emotions to physical outbursts. Their anger is a result of their having lost control of the situation.

Some typical objects of anger are:

  • Themselves – Why couldn’t I help, I could have been there, I could have done something…
  • God -Why would God allow that to happen?
  • The deceased, or infirmed – How could they leave me?
  • The healthcare providers – They could have done more, they didn’t do enough, …
  • Hospitals – The VA *^#*^, We should never have admitted them there,
  • Anyone Offering Help – You don’t understand, you can’t know how I am feeling

Some Symptoms of Anger to look for are:

  • Irritability especially if it gets very bad
  • Ongoing preoccupation about what happened and why
  • Addictive or harming behaviors to self or others
  • Anxiety, Fear, Depression
  • There may be behavioral overreactions(outburst)

What can we do?

Again I can only go off my years first in counseling and then the practical application of all I learned when I have counselled others:

  • First is empathy and not simple sympathy especially in this stage. Someone who is angry even if not at you can easily turn on you (see last point above.
  • Second, allow the person to be angry, they need to get it out and not internalize it so it festers and grows malignant. Now of course we do not want them acting out harmful anger at themselves or others.
  • Try and ask probing questions, with grace and CAUTION, to get to the root of the anger, why are they angry, what is the true source of their anger.
  • If possible, offer to help them face the challenge, pray with them at a bedside, hold a prayer service, escort them to a funeral or gravesite, maybe speaking with hospital administration or a doctor…
  • Of course, if they seem stuck in the anger stage of grief, we need to make every effort to refer them to a certified Christian therapist, grief counselor, or psychologist.

Remember our job is to provide Care, Comfort, and (Short Term) Counsel while these individuals are assigned to us. We are not (at least most are not) long-term counselors, let us leave that to those professionals and be what God has called us to be Ministers/Chaplains.

Other Resources:

Dealing with Sorrow

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/01/2021

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

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Yesterday, we began this series by explaining the goal to be: to attempt to write a series of posts using mainly the Psalms as text that can be used to provide comfort to those Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying. This was mainly to be from a Chaplain/Ministerial view but hopfully applicalble and helpfull to all.

For me, as a Christian Chaplain, all roads lead to Christ so our first post began with a quick look at Christ, the Great Physician. I can not imagine trying to comfort someone who is completely against the Bible (think Richard Dawkins) with scripture. So the first thing is a triage of sorts to find out about them. As I should have noted yesterday this is not a CONFRONTATION, but a friendly get-to-know-you session. Remember the goal, mission call it what you will of the minister/chaplain is to provide care, comfort, and counsel.

Lamentations 3:31-33

One of the first lessons I learned when dealing with those “suffering” was they are grieving. No matter the person or situation, loss of job, divorce, illness, death, etc. grief is inevitably involved. I began my Chaplaincy working with the incarcerated and even the toughest of those men and women, grieve (even if they don’t show it). Having a right understanding of the grief process is critical to ministering to them.

When I began my journey I was told and taught there were 5 Stages of Grief:

  • denial
  • anger
  • bargaining
  • depression1
  • acceptance

1 Note some modern text now add two other stages in-between depression and acceptance. They are 1) The Upward Turn– This is where you finally begin to feel better and see the light 2) Reconstruction and Working Through – begins to start to work through the aftermath of loss and take control of your life.

The highlighted link above gives an expanded explanation of each stage. What is important is after meeting and “triaging” a person to understand what stage they are in. It is completely different talking to someone who is in the anger stage after a bitter divorce compared to someone who has just lost a loved one to cancer.

One common denominator in all grief counseling I have encountered is the lack of control someone feels. A common theme is “I could have or should have done…” Even if they do not directly blame themselves they feel a sense of loss of control so great it can in a sense paralyze them emotionally and even physically. That is where we as ministers/chaplains come in to provide that care/comfort and counsel helping them get through their situation.

One last reminder, as noted yesterday, that going it alone should never be an option for anyone. Be sure if you are not a Minister/Chaplain are experiencing grief, are hurting, or have suicidal thoughts you seek help immediately. see links here.

RESOURCES:

C.S. Lewis and the Five Stages of Grief

How to Cope with Grief

Understanding the Grieving Process – Focus on the Family

A Biblical Model of Grieving

Understanding and Recognizing the 7 Stages of Grief

Gage’s physical and mental health were connected

“I think it’s important for me to tell my story because there’s a lot of people out there ready to give up. There’s a lot of guys who are hurting. It doesn’t matter how beat down you are, if you can still breathe, man, just keep getting up.”

Make the Connection

Video: Gage’s physical and mental health were connected

In the Air Force, Gage was able to become the fittest and strongest he had ever been. Unfortunately, arthritis started holding him back and eventually sent him home. After reconnecting with family membersfriends, a church community, and other Veterans, Gage found a new purpose. “It’s the reconnection with Vets that helps me the most.”

Watch Now

WE ARE SUFFERING FROM A SOCIAL RECESSION, TOO.

By Michael Hendrix 

 

This essay is part of a special series of the American Project that seeks to address the crisis of loneliness during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

 

New Yorkers are used to hearing sirens. And then came March’s round-the-clock ambulance wails, every hour of every day. Through the barred windows of my Brooklyn apartment, I watched the streets empty as an unseen contagion drove us inside.

Before the razor wire and guard dogs on Fifth Avenue, before the mass graves in the city’s potter’s field, New York was not perfect, but we had each other. Now, it seems, we are united only by fear and loneliness. “People don’t have anything to lose,” cried one looter smashing the windows on a Duane Reade drugstore in Lower Manhattan this past May. “In the right circumstances, ka-boom.” I’d like to believe he’s wrong…

READ MORE

Praying When You Feel Anxiety or Depression

Did You Know?

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.
  • People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
  • Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.

 


How to Pray When You’re Feeling Anxious or Depressed

David Murray

Prayer is hard at the best of times, but it’s hardest during anxious or depressed times. During such seasons, most of us find it hard to concentrate, we feel God is far away, and we despair of God hearing or helping us.

How can we make prayer easier and more encouraging to us in such dark and disturbing spells?

READ MORE

 

Many folks feel shame, or other reasons for not seeking treatment PLEASE if you or someone you know is depressed, or has other mental health or substance abuse issues take the first step to save a life today and call:  

 

SAMHSA Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

COVID-19, Depression, and Suicide

BreakPoint Daily

COVID-19, Depression, and Suicide

thumbnail_covid depression

Lessons from the Coronavirus Part 8

JOHN STONESTREET WITH ROBERTO RIVERA

From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts warned of its impact on people with mental illnesses. For those with mood disorders, the pandemic packed a “one-two” punch: the depression and anxiety caused by the fear of contracting the coronavirus itself, and the depression and anxiety accelerated by measures taken to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Even the wide use of the term “social distancing” instead of the more accurate “physical distancing” communicated isolation and the loneliness.

Add to all that canceled appointments with psychiatrists and therapists, and we should expect a steep decline in mental health. Which is exactly what happened…

CONTINUED AT: SOURCE

 

 

 

 

Tempted

When we think of being tempted we think of doing things wrong that is sinning against God. Of course that is true, and we need to Armor Up daily to fight off the willy temptations of the devil what other types of temptations are running about especially with the COVID-19 situation? How about:

Anger – maybe you have been to that store 3 times for TP and they are out every time

Anxiety – some folks get panic attack for many different reasons a world wide pandemic is probably one to set them off

Depression – as more and more areas have issued “Shelter in Place” orders those not used to being “locked up” will become susceptible to depression

Slothfulness or Laziness – as more Americans are laid off laziness is often the by product

Resentment – my neighbor still has a job why not me I have bills to pay too

12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. James 1:12

The “GOOD NEWS” is that there is a cure for all these temptations and the cure is Christ. Trust in HIM and HIM alone as not only your Savior equally important LORD of your Life. Christ is able to sustain us through all life’s trials and temptations Psalm 55:22

If you are feeling any of these emotions and want to talk, vent or otherwise express yourself PLEASE feel free to email me and I will gladly send you IM info.