Issues and Answers

Working Through Grief And Bereavement

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Shelley Quinn (Host), Derry James


Series Code: IAA

Program Code: IAA000239

00:30 Hello, I'm Shelley Quinn.
00:32 And welcome again to "Issues and Answers."
00:34 Today, our issue is going to be
00:36 "Working through Grief and Bereavement."
00:39 And if you are in this process,
00:42 I want to give you a promise from God.
00:44 Psalm 3:3. Let me read this to you.
00:47 It says, "You, oh, Lord, are a shield for me,
00:51 my glory, and the lifter of my head."
00:55 I'm impressed to say a prayer for you even now.
00:58 Heavenly Father, I ask in the name of Jesus
01:00 for all who are watching or listening to my voice.
01:04 If they are going through grief,
01:06 I pray You will cup Your hand under their chin.
01:09 Help them, Lord, lift them, lift their head
01:12 and help them to look to Jesus,
01:14 the author and finisher of the faith in Jesus' name.
01:19 Amen. Amen.
01:20 We have with us today
01:22 joining us once again, Chaplain Derry James.
01:26 She has a Doctor of Ministry, a board certified chaplain.
01:30 And she is from Spring Valley.
01:33 Grass Valley. Grass valley.
01:35 Well, that was close enough. Grass Valley, California.
01:38 Derry, I'm so glad you are back again.
01:40 Thank you, Shelly.
01:41 I know this topic is close to your heart
01:44 because when I heard some of your personal story.
01:48 It seems that the experiences
01:52 through which you have walked in your life
01:55 prepared you in advance to be a compassionate chaplain.
02:01 Why don't you share with us some of the personal loss
02:05 that you've experienced in your life?
02:08 Well, Shelly, my first deep personal lost was
02:12 when my seven-year-old sister died, I was a freshman.
02:16 And she got the measles that developed into pneumonia
02:20 and then into encephalitis.
02:23 And then the following year,
02:25 my father died of coronary heart failure.
02:28 He and my mom were in process of divorce
02:31 at the time when that happened.
02:34 Then I lost my grandmother to cancer,
02:37 and then we lost our 25-year-old son
02:43 in an automobile accident.
02:45 And following that, we lost our first granddaughter.
02:49 I raised seven sons before I gave birth to
02:52 and before I had--
02:54 I had the privilege of raising for my ex-husband.
02:57 And our first little baby was a girl
03:02 and we lost her to SIDS apnea.
03:05 And then I lost my husband
03:10 from divorce in 1998.
03:14 So I've had a process of losses through my life.
03:20 And actually I lost my-- my father died last year
03:24 and two of my best friends last year.
03:26 So last year was a tough year as well.
03:28 You know, it reminds me looking at your story in what the--
03:32 how the Lord is using you now.
03:34 2 Corinthians 1, it says that,
03:37 "God is the God of all comfort
03:39 who comforts us in our troubles that we may comfort others
03:43 with the same comfort that we have received from Him."
03:46 And that really is what He is doing with you now is,
03:50 He is using you as a chaplain
03:51 in a hospital in Grass Valley, California.
03:55 And you are working with people
03:58 who often are in this process of
04:01 "Working through Grief and Bereavement."
04:03 Let's talk about this process.
04:07 And what are some of the stages of grief
04:13 or just the anticipation of grief?
04:17 You know, there are sometimes when we're facing something
04:20 and we're not grieving yet because we're in a crisis
04:23 if you will, but reaching that turning point
04:26 and we know grief is coming.
04:28 We know that this is-- it could be the announcement.
04:32 We're expecting the announcement
04:34 that someone has a terminal disease perhaps.
04:39 We refer to that as anticipatory grief, Shelly.
04:43 And that really does begin kind of at the moment
04:47 you have that bad news diagnosis that comes to you
04:52 because you begin anticipating
04:54 then the rest of the life's journey
04:58 of either yourself or that person that you love
05:02 and what that is going to mean to you.
05:05 And with that anticipatory grief,
05:09 comes the loss of all the dreams
05:12 that are not going to be filled, you know.
05:16 So the death of a vision even in a divorce it--
05:19 I mean, it's the death of a vision.
05:21 You've married and you expected to live happily ever after.
05:25 So anytime you're facing that,
05:28 if it's a child or your husband or what,
05:29 it's the death of a vision of life with that person.
05:34 Right, right, there actually we talked about
05:39 four types of grieving
05:42 and there's like that the chronic grieving
05:45 that does not subside.
05:48 And then there is the delayed or suppressed grieving,
05:51 they kind of put off or we don't acknowledge it.
05:54 And there is the exaggerated grieving
05:59 where it's just almost self-destructive. Yes.
06:04 And then there is the masked grieving
06:07 where you just don't want to face it
06:09 and yet your behavior interferes with normal activities
06:15 and not even allowing you the normal grieving process.
06:19 So I just want to touch on those,
06:23 not necessarily explore them deeply,
06:25 but to bring an awareness and also to bring
06:28 an awareness of what we call disenfranchised grief
06:33 where you can have complicated grief issues involved.
06:38 For example, people that have HIV or partners
06:46 or it could even be a secret lover that can't--
06:51 that isn't included in the acknowledgement
06:53 of grief processing that has to hide their grief.
06:56 It could be a stepchild to a stepparent
07:01 and acknowledgement of grief.
07:03 These are like high risk issues. Yeah.
07:07 Kind of high risk issues or not the socially accepted
07:12 or morally accepted standards even that cause people
07:16 that are in these precarious positions
07:20 to have to either hide their grief or grieve alone.
07:24 We call that disenfranchised grief. I see.
07:27 But that is complicated grief
07:30 where it's very difficult for them
07:34 because they don't necessarily have anyone that can
07:36 come by their side and help them as they go through this process,
07:40 unless they know God and can turn to God in these issues.
07:48 We have children that deal with that grief
07:52 and yet as adults we can get so tied into
07:56 everything we're taking care of that.
07:58 Even at the hospital bedside as we are standing by
08:02 a person that is dying and we're grieving.
08:04 The children are usually off in the corner
08:07 and not often like right on the bed
08:10 with grandma as she's-- as she's gonna pass.
08:13 And as a chaplain, I will sometimes
08:16 immediately go to that child I see in the corner
08:20 and say in front of the adult something like,
08:23 "Boy, honey, this is really hard for you to--
08:26 for grandma to be so sick, isn't it?"
08:29 And that immediately brings an awareness
08:31 to this child in the corner.
08:34 So--and we each grieve in our own way
08:38 and children will sometimes put off their grieving
08:42 because they think they have to be strong for their parents
08:46 and see their parents through this.
08:51 You know, when my mother died, she died literally in my arms.
08:55 She was in the hospital, but she had suffered for many years
08:59 and was lingering and they kept anticipating her death.
09:03 And finally, my sister didn't want let her go.
09:06 And so I took my sister outside of the hospital room
09:12 and I said, I feel like, my mother,
09:15 you know, our mother is waiting for us
09:17 to give her permission to die.
09:19 And I was being so strong and I walked back in
09:22 and I convinced my sister that we needed to--
09:25 we had been praying quite a bit.
09:26 My mother was pretty much comatose,
09:29 but we've been praying for God to revive her
09:34 and we went in and I told my mother,
09:37 even though she was in the state,
09:39 I said, "Momma, we've discussed this,
09:41 we're gonna take care of one another.
09:43 You have our permission to die."
09:46 And within moments her breathing became
09:49 very relaxed and then she passed.
09:53 And she was in my arms.
09:55 And, you know, I was so prepared for this.
09:58 We had been expecting it, it was a prolonged.
10:01 My mother had complete cardiac and respiratory arrest
10:04 four years earlier and she has--
10:06 was left paralyzed from the neck down.
10:09 And so we were expecting this death
10:13 and yet when it actually happened,
10:15 I held myself together for just a moment,
10:17 but I went outside the hospital
10:20 and I let out a wail that came some deep from down within me.
10:24 I was just mourning and just let out this horrible wail.
10:28 It was just ungodly.
10:29 I mean, I don't know how to explain it.
10:32 And my grief was upfront.
10:34 Now my sister on the other hand who usually falls to pieces,
10:39 she was very strong for the first 24 hours
10:43 then her grief was so great,
10:44 she didn't even make it to the funeral.
10:46 So everybody does grief in a different way.
10:50 And you watch people,
10:51 you know, it's sad that what we do to people,
10:54 let's say, you should be over your grief by now, you know.
10:58 Well, you're bringing up a lot of points here.
10:59 My little head is just digging going all directions right now,
11:03 but you're absolutely right.
11:04 Many times a dying person,
11:07 once they hear that the family gives them permission,
11:09 they will let go.
11:11 Another thing is, if they have been dealing
11:14 with unforgiveness issues or reconciliation issues
11:16 in the family, the minute those are resolved.
11:19 Sometimes a person will die more quickly.
11:22 Sometimes they'll hang on for days
11:23 until they can get that resolved.
11:25 Exactly true. And that's a very important issue.
11:29 Going back now to this grieving in different ways,
11:34 you have people that have
11:37 the prolonged anticipation of death
11:39 and then you have the sudden death.
11:41 And it's the sudden death is easy,
11:45 easier for the person that died,
11:47 but it's more difficult for the people that are alive
11:49 because they haven't had that opportunity to prepare
11:53 or they start having questions or they think,
11:56 If I'd only kiss them goodbye this morning before they left.
11:59 And generally-- If I'd only said, I love you.
12:00 Yes, exactly. And it's usually the more traumatic death.
12:04 So that in itself is more difficult
12:06 because it could mean a lot of disfigurement as well.
12:11 In the prolonged dying process
12:13 that you have an opportunity to face grief often on
12:16 and often on again, it does not necessarily mean
12:19 as you've expressed already
12:21 that the grieving is gonna be any easier
12:23 when the actuality comes.
12:25 And some people think,
12:27 "Oh, well, you've had all this time to deal with the grief."
12:29 But that is not necessarily.
12:31 So at the actuality of the death,
12:33 many times a person just explodes
12:35 under this horrendous grief.
12:37 And yeah, I kind of itemized in a way
12:40 all the different areas of grief that I had to walk through
12:44 and the different unexpected deaths
12:46 as well as the prolong death processes.
12:49 And, Shelly, I'll tell you, everyone was different
12:52 and how you can't guess how you're going to react.
12:56 You know, I know that when my son at 25 died,
13:01 I don't know how I walked from the living room
13:03 to the kitchen for example.
13:04 Everything I did was mechanical.
13:06 And I couldn't remember things from one minute to the next.
13:10 When you're going through grief,
13:12 one minute you want people right there by your side
13:14 and the next second you don't want anyone around you.
13:17 One minute you're capable
13:18 and the next minute, you can' think.
13:20 One minute you are crying, the next minute you're angry.
13:24 And your--those are normal grief reactions,
13:28 but you're kind of all over the map with your reactions.
13:31 So when I'm counseling families I say,
13:34 "Be gentle with yourself and be gentle with each other
13:38 because you're not even going to realize
13:41 how you're coming across
13:43 because your whole emotional responses can be so erratic
13:48 during this time
13:50 and the questions that you go through."
13:53 And when a person is going through
13:56 this last part of the dying process
13:58 and grieving it with their family members,
14:01 that's so important that they take care of themselves
14:05 during that time that they--that they eat,
14:08 that they force themselves to eat a little
14:10 that they try to get as much as sleep possible
14:13 because this is a high stress, critical time
14:16 that you're going through together
14:18 and highly volatile with the emotions.
14:23 You know, there are times
14:25 that my father-in-law had Alzheimer's
14:29 and my mother-in-law was grieving his death.
14:33 I mean, grieving his loss, I should say.
14:36 For so many years, she actually preceded him
14:39 by just a few months in death, but she was grieving his loss.
14:44 And I think sometimes we don't understand--
14:51 We think of death is being that cut off point,
14:56 but for some people divorce,
14:58 I think divorce can sometimes be worse than death because--
15:01 It's ongoing.
15:03 It's ongoing, there's no closure.
15:04 For someone who has perhaps a loved one
15:08 who's in a coma or a protracted illness,
15:12 something like Alzheimer's
15:14 or something that has affected their mental state
15:17 to where the person maybe physically there,
15:20 but they're no longer mentally there.
15:22 What are some of the stages of grief
15:25 that it doesn't matter whether it's from as we said,
15:29 a divorce or a protracted chronic illness or from death?
15:35 What are some of the stages of deep grief
15:36 that people go through?
15:38 Generally, the first stage and all of those are shock.
15:43 They just are shocked with the news.
15:46 Whether it's going to be prolonged illness,
15:49 whether it's the pronouncement of divorce request
15:53 or someone leaving or talking about betrayal or whatever else
15:59 or whether it's an instantaneous sudden and traumatic death.
16:04 The first reaction generally is shock in everyone.
16:08 And then after you go through that which we call stage one,
16:12 the second stage is-- has several parts to it
16:16 and you can bounce around in it.
16:18 It's not necessarily one in order of the other,
16:22 but there can be a part of denial,
16:25 there can be a part of the anger that we've already mentioned,
16:29 there can be a part of bargaining with God like,
16:33 "If you'll just--Oh, God, if You'll just save their life,
16:36 I promise I will always do this or I will never do that again."
16:41 So it's trying to work up this deal with God,
16:43 if you'll just--just save their life, Lord.
16:46 And then there could be a part of depression,
16:49 but whatever the parts of the second stage are
16:53 and you can bounce back and forth
16:54 from one to another.
16:56 You have to go through that second stage
17:00 someway before you can actually get to the third stage,
17:04 which is that reconciling with what it is
17:09 and that resignation of going on and starting over, if you will,
17:16 accepting things as they are.
17:18 Let me ask you a question.
17:20 I've a dear friend who lost her husband over a year ago,
17:23 just barely over a year ago
17:25 and there's many people who are counseling her,
17:31 not counseling with her, but giving her counsel
17:34 that it's time to get on.
17:36 How do you know when you get to that point of acceptance?
17:43 I mean, is there a certain time limit
17:47 when you should be concerned that somebody's grief
17:50 is exaggerated perhaps that they're not going on beyond?
17:55 I mean, is it a year, is it two years,
17:57 is there a time when you should be concern
17:59 that someone's not maybe turning the corner
18:01 and getting on with life?
18:04 Shelly, sometimes family members and friends
18:08 will try to rush a person's grieving more
18:12 because they're uncomfortable with it
18:14 and don't know what to do.
18:16 And to give you an exact--
18:20 Yes, if you've grieved two years or three years
18:22 that's enough, you should move on.
18:24 Well, yeah, probably by at least three years.
18:28 You ought to be concerned
18:30 if you're still in deep grieving for sure.
18:34 You know, I've been divorced now
18:36 for almost eight or nine years
18:39 and my ex-husband is happily married,
18:41 and to be honest there were times
18:45 that I was relieved about the divorce,
18:48 but there are times even now
18:50 that occasionally I grieve what could have been.
18:54 And so, even though
18:58 you get over initial grieving in death situations.
19:03 Bryan, our second oldest son
19:05 who was killed in an automobile accident
19:07 when he was 25 back in '91, I still miss Bryan.
19:12 Do I just cry over Bryan? No.
19:15 But I do miss Bryan. Of course.
19:17 You know, and so--
19:18 My question is, if someone seems to be
19:22 and maybe this and maybe you can't answer this question.
19:24 But what do you do if someone seems to be
19:26 pretty much still on the initial stages of grief
19:30 for a very prolong period.
19:32 If they don't seem to be advancing
19:34 should we be concerned, should they seek counseling,
19:37 if they don't seem to let go
19:43 or not necessarily let go of their grief?
19:45 But move on. Move on.
19:47 Oh, absolutely, there comes a point
19:50 where they definitely will need some assistance
19:53 and that assistance can be to see a counselor.
19:57 In my case for example, I gave myself the gift
20:00 of being part of a loss and grief support group
20:06 which was a 12 week group.
20:08 And we went through a grief and loss
20:10 handbook that made me really deal
20:13 with these deep issues and face them.
20:15 And it was painful, but it was healing for me.
20:20 And maybe if we go over some of the normal grief reactions,
20:24 it will give some definitives. Yes, please.
20:27 And because we don't need to just stay in a broken state
20:31 because we do have hope.
20:33 So there are a lot of physical reactions that can go on.
20:37 We can go anywhere
20:39 from not being able to eat to just eating like crazy
20:42 from not being able to sleep to sleeping all the time,
20:46 from having headaches
20:48 and all kinds of bodily reactions and responses.
20:51 Tight throats because our resistance is down
20:54 we become more vulnerable to diseases and so on.
20:57 We can have muscle aches.
21:00 If for example, we're married and we've lost our parent
21:03 that we were very close to,
21:05 we could even have sexual dysfunction.
21:07 We can't get ourselves into life and living.
21:11 Sometimes there is the emotional
21:14 or even cognitive thoughts of,
21:17 why should I go on and be happy when this person is gone?
21:21 So there are these guilty feelings
21:23 that a person can go through cognitively.
21:28 They can have feelings emotionally
21:30 of helplessness and hopelessness
21:32 or yearnings or sadness or shock.
21:36 They may have concern like I said
21:41 because they are experiencing any pleasure
21:43 and they try to nip the pleasure in the bud so to speak.
21:47 Particularly if they are survivor, isn't that true?
21:50 If there's been an accident, they've survived.
21:53 As far as their behavioral skills,
21:57 it may be difficult for them
21:58 to concentrate at school or at work
22:00 that may affect their productivity
22:03 or they maybe overly sensitive to noise
22:05 or overly sensitive to people around them.
22:08 They may be angry with people around them
22:09 because people around them are laughing
22:11 and enjoying life and life is going on,
22:13 but they haven't gone on yet with life.
22:17 And how could life go on when this horrible thing
22:19 has just happened, you know.
22:21 And then spiritually, they will review
22:23 the meaning of their own life or even the life of the person
22:27 that they have lost or are losing
22:29 and the contribution they go through forgiveness
22:33 or reconciliation issues, but feel a powerlessness
22:38 or struggle for a connectedness.
22:42 So those are kind of just briefly and not all inclusive
22:47 of some very normal grief reaction, Shelly.
22:50 And if these become exaggerated
22:52 for example, you kind of have to move on.
22:57 And if a person never wants to get rid
22:59 of the clothing or of the diseased
23:03 and then they've been there for a year or so
23:06 and they don't want to go through
23:07 and they don't want to let go these things,
23:09 then they need to be encouraged.
23:12 Not ridicule that they're still grieving,
23:15 but maybe a friend come along side and say,
23:18 "I know that you're having difficulty
23:20 cleaning out the closet
23:22 and I know this is painful for you.
23:24 And I just--I just want us maybe next week
23:28 I'm going to come over and help you
23:29 and we can just cry through this together.
23:33 I just want to be there to cry with you and help you,
23:36 so that we can help you get some of these things
23:39 taken care of that will help you in your healing process."
23:46 Sometimes we want to rush a person
23:48 through grieving so much.
23:50 It's like after a couple of months,
23:52 we want them to move on and that will particularly happen.
23:57 For example, for the woman that's had a miscarriage.
24:00 Yes. And maybe she is really grieving this miscarriage
24:06 and people want her to forget it.
24:07 You know, it's just a miscarriage.
24:09 You were only a few months pregnant.
24:11 And yet this woman can't let go of that.
24:13 Maybe they wanted a child for a long time
24:16 and there was a lot of hope here
24:18 and no one understands that grief.
24:21 You know, that's true even for a woman who--
24:24 and I'm speaking from personal experience,
24:26 who really want a children
24:28 and then weren't able to have children,
24:31 maybe facing hysterectomy
24:33 before there is a grieving process
24:36 that you go through just from that loss of opportunity.
24:40 Well, we live in such a push button society, Shelly,
24:44 that people want us to snap out of it.
24:46 Okay, it's time to move on, time to get through this.
24:48 Okay, time to look up, time to, you know.
24:51 And we all grieve differently
24:53 and we all take different periods of time.
24:55 And just like I said, we bounced around
24:57 from one stage to another.
24:59 And it's not something that we can rush,
25:01 but it is something that we shouldn't swallow
25:04 and hide and pretend it's not there.
25:06 And if we swallow it, again speaking from experience,
25:09 it will surface and it will come over you
25:11 like a tidal wave, you know.
25:13 We only have a couple of minutes left.
25:15 Let's give some hope to those who are grieving.
25:18 What can we do to improve
25:24 the attitudes of our mind?
25:28 In working through grief, it helps to share our grief.
25:33 Again, I'm gonna go back to that journaling
25:35 that I've talked about before,
25:36 because it really helps to journal our feelings
25:40 and to identify a support system,
25:43 that to have people that we can turn to
25:45 when we're having a difficult time
25:47 that will help us and distract us
25:50 and look out for our needs,
25:54 and to get ourselves involved in new things in our lives.
25:58 Reach out in different ways,
25:59 get involved in new opportunities,
26:01 exercise, get involved in hobbies
26:05 or get involved in church activities.
26:08 Be able to identify when the bad times are for you
26:12 and stay away from those.
26:14 Do something else during that time
26:16 and give yourself permission to change your routine
26:19 and do things differently than you've done before.
26:22 You know, sometimes if we are so overwhelmed,
26:27 it helps to sit down and just write a letter
26:30 to the person that died.
26:32 And in that letter, talk about
26:34 all of what our hopes and dreams were
26:35 that we're not gonna get fulfilled anymore
26:37 and how we feel about the fact
26:39 that they died on us and that we're without them.
26:42 And that can be extremely therapeutic.
26:46 You know, I'm thinking about all the process
26:48 that the person goes through,
26:49 all the fears that they face
26:52 and all the grieving again of lost dreams.
26:56 And, Shelly, it takes me back to that scripture
26:59 where God says, "I am with you always
27:04 even unto the end of the world."
27:06 And that no matter how we feel.
27:11 Well, when we cry, Jesus tastes salt. Amen.
27:16 Tears are our language that God understands.
27:19 Derry, thank you so much for being with us again
27:21 and for sharing from your experiences,
27:24 and I believe that you've brought
27:26 some hope to people today.
27:28 You know, if you are going through grieving,
27:30 I just want to encourage you to call our pastoral department
27:34 if you don't have anyone else to talk to.
27:35 You can call 3ABN's pastoral department,
27:38 speak with one of our prayer partners
27:40 and they'll be happy to pray with you.
27:43 And I do hope that you will look to God.
27:45 He is the lifter of your head.
27:47 May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
27:49 the love of the Father and fellowship of the Holy Spirit
27:53 be with you always.


Revised 2014-12-17