Category Archives: REFLECTIONS
A Road Map Out From Grief
Yesterday I read an excellent blog called A Widow’s Might written by Kit Hinkle that I would like to share with you today. Kit has been widowed 5 years and has 4 sons ages 11-17.
A Road Map Out From Grief
by Kit on February 18, 2013
by Kit Hinkle
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
1 Thessalonians 4:13
Do you ever feel like you wish someone would just hand you a roadmap and tell you how long this journey out of sorrow is supposed to take?
The world does, and as usual, the world falls short. After all, hasn’t it fallen short ever since Adam and Eve bit that apple?
Sisters, bear with me here, because I’m going to get a bit analytical here on what the intellectuals of the world have borne out on theories of human behavior response for grieving. Have you ever heard of the Kubler-Ross stages of grief? As a model well-worn by psychologists around the world, it has gained acceptance as the most valid, relevant model for each and every one of us humans. It basically goes like this—when a person is facing loss, they go through stages like so: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then acceptance.
I’ve always just shrugged my shoulders and went along with this model, simply because it shows up everywhere—from grief counseling articles to mainstream media. If the world repeats it, then it must be right…. Right?
I suppose it’s easy to think so, until you walk through loss yourself and somehow, these stages of grief don’t quite fit.
Last week, my teenager showed me the following video his AP Psychology teacher had the class watch on the Kubler-Ross model. Please accept my apologies for the “mother-bleep”’s in it. Leave it to public schools to teach with videos that have to bleep out words in order to convey anger. I thought about finding something else, but since it’s the one shown that got my attention, I thought you’d want to see it.
Beyond the bleeping, I simply tried to enjoy the comedic nature of the giraffe caught in quicksand, following its stages from denial to acceptance. Until it dawned on me—this doesn’t really model how I grieved at all!!!
And then something else dawned on me—through this ministry I witness some widows moving past their grief, ready for the next purpose in life, while others get stuck far longer in anger or depression. Why is that? Is it because they loved their husband more or the loss was worse? I don’t think so. I was one in that group of widows who seemed to emerge rather quickly from grief with more hope, more vigor for the future. And it’s not that I didn’t love my husband. If you could have seen the love Tom had for me—the level of romance and adoration in our marriage, you would not doubt that my loss is genuine. In fact, after hearing so many stories from the readers of these blogs, I’m convinced that there is little connection between the level of adoration or bond between a couple and the recovery process when one of them dies.
So by rejecting Kubler-Ross’s model, and going against what so many accept, am I mistaken? After all, wasn’t Ms. Kubler-Ross a highly decorated thinker who won notoriety as one of the initiators of hospice care? I certainly don’t mean disrespect to someone who has accomplished so much!
On the other hand, as soon as we start to assume someone is above reproach—their theories too perfect to be questioned, we’re putting our faith in someone other than God.
And as it turns out, that’s exactly what Ms. Kubler-Ross did in her lifetime. By all accounts I researched (including Wikipedia.com and biography.com), I could not find any indication that she included our Creator, Jesus Christ, in her ideas about death, dying, and loss.
As a matter of fact, I discovered she
“became increasingly interested in the issues of life after death, spirit guides, and spirit channeling, which was met with skepticism and scorn by her peers in the medical and psychiatric circles.
For one who wrote so extensively on dying and death, Kübler-Ross’s transition from this life was not a smooth one. She retired to Arizona after series of strokes in 1995 left her partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair. “I am like a plane that has left the gate and not taken off,” she said, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times. “I would rather go back to the gate or fly away.” (biography.com)
I got thinking—that’s not acceptance of the quicksand, is it? There is something that Kubler-Ross was missing in her model. Hope.
According to Rapidnet.com, “when incapacitated by a series of strokes in 1995, she did nothing but sit at home in Arizona “smoking cigarettes, watching TV, and waiting to die” (Dr. Hugh Pyle, 8/22/97, Sword). She said: ‘I don’t give a hoot about the afterlife, reincarnation, or anything. I’m finished, and I’m not coming back.’”
That makes me so sad! Is this all she believed there is? No afterlife? No wonder her stages of grief fall empty.
Truth is, when Kubler-Ross came up with her model, she did so without hope. And the world thinkers, who live without hope, gladly accepted her model as valid.
But how about entering the redeeming power of Christ into the model? Because ladies, that’s what seems to make the difference in whether grief leads to healing and a new life, or whether someone gets stuck in despair.
As I researched further, I learned that Christian counselors are beginning to take note of what’s missing from the Kubler-Ross model and improve on it, for the sake of their clients.
Here is how Bob Kellemen, Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, rewrites the model for grieving based on the redeeming power of Christ (http://www.rpmministries.org/2010/07/a-biblical-model-of-grieving/):
This is so eye opening to me that all I can do is reflect back to what Paul said to the Thessalonians: But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
Sisters, are you processing your loss in the hope of Christ? Can you see the difference between grieving in the knowledge that Christ offers everlasting life, and that this life, with all it’s failings and sufferings, is not our eternal home? That while you live out this one and only life on earth, suffering or not, you might as well live it out with purpose, because grieving like those with no hope not only makes you miserable, but keeps you from using whatever time you have left on this planet to make an impact that will last an eternity!
My final thoughts on the founder of the Kubler-Ross model. It’s one thing for an intellectual academic like Kubler-Ross to spend her career studying others going through loss. But when she herself finally had to deal with her impending death, she wasn’t looking forward to her eternal life. Rather, the lost soul sat in despair, unable to accept her predicament of neither having died yet nor having her old life back. How tragic and unnecessary! This isn’t a criticism of her personally—more a compassionate observation of someone who suffered because the hope of Christ never reached her heart.
Has it reached yours? Sisters, I offer to you that if you have never understood how it is that Christ redeems through His act on the cross and how that changes everything for your healing process, I invite you to use the contact form at the top and let us know you’d like us to contact you and pray with you.
Blessings on your healing journey.
Loss at Valentine’s Day
Remarriage After Losing a Spouse
In August 2010 Brian Kluth became a widower with three teenagers after 8 years of caring for his wife. Brian talks about what it is like to be single and dating again on Chris Fabry Live/Moody Radio. In 2011 Brian started a group called Christian Singles in Denver that is not only for people in the Denver area, but can be viewed online. Here is the link to his story.
Too Tired to Trust and Pray
I’m too tired to trust and too tired to pray,
Said one, as the over-taxed strength gave way.
The one conscious thought by my mind possessed,
Is, oh, could I just drop it all and rest.
Will God forgive me, do you suppose,
If I go right to sleep as a baby goes,
Without an asking if I may,
Without ever trying to trust and pray?
Will God forgive you? why think, dear heart,
When language to you was an unknown art,
Did a mother deny you needed rest,
Or refuse to pillow your head on her breast?
Did she let you want when you could not ask?
Did she set her child an unequal task?
Or did she cradle you in her arms,
And then guard your slumber against alarms?
Ah, how quick was her mother love to see,
The unconscious yearnings of infancy.
When you’ve grown too tired to trust and pray,
When over-wrought nature had quite given way:
Then just drop it all, and give up to rest,
As you used to do on a mother’s breast,
He knows all about it–the dear Lord knows,
So just go to sleep as a baby goes;
Without even asking if you may,
God knows when His child is too tired to pray.
He judges not solely by uttered prayer,
He knows when the yearnings of love are there.
He knows you do pray, He knows you do trust,
And He knows, too, the limits of poor weak dust.
Oh, the wonderful sympathy of Christ,
For His chosen ones in that midnight tryst.
When He bade them sleep and take their rest,
While on Him the guilt of the whole world pressed–
You’ve given your life to Him to keep,
Then don’t be afraid to go right to sleep.”
–Ella Conrad Cowherd
Handling the Holidays After A Loss
Mike Courtney, Ph.D, and the founder and director of Branches Recovery Center in Murfreesboro, TN, shares how he is handling his 1st holidays after the loss of a family member:
We sat last week in the very back of a local, quaint restaurant called Miller’s Grocery. It was years ago a one room, general store, nestled beside a railroad track and next to the Post Office in a tiny, Tennessee village. Today it has been converted into a “must eat at” tourist kind of venue known for its squash casserole and dessert buffet. And it is a popular place for Thanksgiving dinner for those families who either don’t want to cook or don’t want to stay at home. We were in the latter crowd.
This is our first holiday season without Mom and we just wanted to do something different. Doris and I and Jacob, my step-father Sammy, and my sister Chonda, picked through dressing and gravy, shoved pieces if turkey around on our plate, and made tunnels in the mashed potatoes. They were out of the squash casserole. We tried to talk about meaningless stuff. We made jokes about the people that were eating around us. But like moths drawn to a flame we found ourselves talking about Mom and shedding tears in our sweet tea.
One of our favorite stories about Mom is the phrase she invented when she was writing her little memoirs. She was describing some of those events that we all face that drain us of our joy; those unavoidable chapters in life that take the laughter from our hearts and the smiles from our faces. She said those are “happy sucking” moments because they suck the happiness from us. I know what she was trying to say but the phrase just didn’t get it. “Happy sucking” somehow moves me to giggles rather than convey the somber, sober subject that Mom was trying to express.
We made it through the meal but I spent a lot of time thinking about the countless number of other families that are facing the holidays with an absent place at the table. Maybe this has been the year of a divorce, a death, or a deployment. For whatever reason you are wondering how your will endure the present opening around the tree or watching alone as the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. Well, here are some suggestions that seem to be helping us:
• First, don’t be afraid to change some traditions. Do something you’ve never done before this season. Eat out instead of staying in. Take a trip. Buy Christmas for a needy family. Just do something completely different this year to change the pace.
• Secondly, embrace the emotions. Rather than trying to avoid those tearful moments or hide from painful memories, welcome those times. Get it out. Talk about it. Cry a little bit and then go on. I think you’ll find healing comes much more quickly when you allow yourself the freedom to be sad instead of feeling like you have to stuff it down.
• Third, slow down a little bit. Take some of the stress out of the holiday this year by easing up on the activities and expectations. The office party will be okay without your famous sugar cookies this year. You don’t have to finish all of those hand-made birdhouses for every neighbor on the street. This holiday season make sure that you take time for you.
• Finally, keep it simple. That sounds a lot like number three but I mean more than that. Let this holiday season really be about the simple message of a baby in a manger. Focus on the simple truth of Emmanuel, Christ with us, and let that be enough. The blessed side of that emptiness in your heart is that it creates a space for Jesus to come in and comfort you. And He will.
Where Do I Go From Here At The Holidays?
On the second hour of Moody Radio’s Chris Fabry Live, he talked to widow Miriam Neff about unwanted change in your life and how to handle it especially during the holiday seasons. You can to to http://www.moodyradio.org/chrisfabrylive/, click on “Past Programs”, Air Date – November 16, 2012, and listen to what Miriam had to say during Hour 2. Miriam’s new book for widows is entitled WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?
Our youngest daughter Tshanina wrote a blog post to her dad today that I want to share.
by Tshanina on Saturday, November 10th, 2012
It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since you went to be with Jesus. Some days it seems like it was just yesterday that we were laughing together and then other days it feels like it was an eternity ago! Boy, how I miss you!
I think of you so very often! Every time I drive past a Checkers I remember the nights you would bring a bag of burgers home! Whenever I hear someone speak with a thick Pennsylvania accent you come to mind! And, when I see your favorite foods or a lawnmower that’s for sale on the side of the road you are on my heart!
We are all doing well and you would be so proud to see your grandsons and granddaughter; they truly are great kids that you would be proud of! They are growing up so fast! Oh how Joel reminds me of you in the way he talks and his mannerisms; he’s always making us laugh. Jacob will soon be driving (yes, a car!). Levi and Lincoln are outdoorsmen just like you (they both drive a mean go-cart)! Elizabeth is turning into a beautiful young lady! And, although you haven’t yet met Cole, you’d love how he always has a big smile on his face. He calls me Sheena.
You’d also be so proud of mom and how well she’s doing. You asked us to make sure she’s taken care of but she’s doing a great job taking care of herself. Like all of us, she misses you terribly.
Thank you for all that you taught me through the years. I wouldn’t have become the person that I am today had you not instilled so many wonderful values into my heart. Sure, you were strict at times, but I’m so thankful that you cared. Thank you for being a godly example for all of us, for taking us to church each and every Sunday, and for showing us what it means to be hard workers and strong individuals!
I can only imagine how beautiful Heaven is and how much you’re enjoying it there! I know you’re also enjoying time with your grandson, Max. Please let him know that I can’t wait to meet him someday. Tell my two grandmas and grandpa hi for me!
I sure do miss you dad and I can’t wait to see you someday soon and give you a big hug!
Your loving daughter!
Crisis = Danger or Opportunity
The Chinese symbol for the word “crisis” is made up of 2 characters. One is “danger”. The other is “opportunity”.
How to Enlist Grief
Since you can’t possibly run from grief even though you may try, ask God to enlist your grief and make it work for you and not against you. How do you do this?
1. Accept Your Loss – Acceptance does not mean resignation. Acceptance is active cooperation with God’s plan. If you aren’t yet
willing to accept your loss, ask God to make you willing to be made willing. Grief can either consume you or refine you.
2. Surrender What God Has Given You Back To Him – Place your pain on the altar as an act of worship.
3. Be Still and Listen For God’s Still Small Voice – It may take you coming to the end of yourself before this can happen, but I can almost 100% guarantee you that there will come a point in your life where you just cannot do grief alone any longer.
4. Make the Decision to Live to Glorify God as a Widow