Issues and Answers

What is Grief

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Shelley Quinn (Host), Karen Nicola


Series Code: IAA

Program Code: IAA000466A

00:01 One of my favorite Bible promises
00:02 is in Revelation 21:4,
00:04 where it says that God will wipe away
00:07 every tear from our eyes.
00:09 There's gonna be no more pain, no more sorrow,
00:11 no more death
00:13 but that's not until the New Jerusalem descends.
00:17 What do we do now, when we are grieving?
00:21 If you haven't experienced grief yet in your life,
00:24 you will.
00:25 Stay tuned, today, for Issues and Answers.
00:29 Join us in our discussion on grief.
01:03 Hello, I'm Shelley Quinn and we welcome you once again
01:06 to Issues & Answers.
01:07 We hope if you know anyone
01:09 who is going through the grieving process,
01:12 that you will make certain they get a copy of this program
01:15 or even call them right now and tell them to tune in
01:19 to Issues & Answers.
01:20 Our special guest today, is an author,
01:23 she's a grief counselor
01:25 and her ministry is 'Comfort for the Day.'
01:29 And her name is Karen Nicola
01:32 and she is just already becoming a very special friend
01:36 so, Karen, we welcome you to 3ABN.
01:39 Thank you, Shelley. I'm very happy to be here.
01:41 And this isn't your first visit.
01:43 You were here in 94? I was.
01:46 All right, we know that you did some grief...
01:49 Programs on grief then
01:50 but we thought it was time to have you update things so...
01:54 Yeah, here we are.
01:55 So before we actually get into the explanation,
02:00 I would like very much
02:02 if you could share your testimony
02:04 because you're very qualified to speak to this topic.
02:08 Well, as I've said every time,
02:10 the qualification comes from the Lord...
02:12 Amen. And the Lord's healing.
02:15 But I have tasted deeply of the pain of loss,
02:18 when our three and a half year old son died of leukemia,
02:21 in our home, one Friday morning.
02:24 We hadn't been slightly prepared
02:26 for his death.
02:28 We had read some things about what that might look like
02:32 but we were completely unprepared for what followed.
02:36 This chasm that you fall into, that we call 'grief'
02:39 and it was such unfamiliar territory and so frightening
02:44 because you don't know what the next turn is.
02:47 You don't know where you're going
02:48 and how to get through
02:50 the valley of the shadow of death.
02:52 Amen.
02:53 And, you know, I think that there...
02:55 To me, there could be no worse pain
02:59 than losing your child because it is so unnatural
03:03 to outlive your children and when you see a life,
03:06 a three and a half year old, a life that's ended so early.
03:10 I'm just so sorry that you went through that.
03:13 But sometimes, it's senseless
03:17 and just what we're going through
03:19 is senseless as well.
03:21 So I praise the Lord that He comforted you,
03:26 He brought you healing but I praise the Lord
03:30 that He has called you in to this ministry
03:32 because this is something that...
03:35 There's such grief in the world right now
03:39 and I hope...
03:40 Take notes as you are listening today
03:44 and what we want to do is talk about what is grief
03:50 and I hope that you'll use this,
03:52 in my mind what Karen's ministry is,
03:55 is that she can bring up,
03:57 train up people how to become good counselors of grief.
04:03 And you can use that as an evangelism tool.
04:06 So, Karen, share with us your definition of grief.
04:11 I don't know that I have one specific one
04:13 but I want to, kind of, in general,
04:15 share that grief is natural.
04:18 Yes.
04:19 And grief is normal and here's the next one.
04:22 Grief is necessary. Amen.
04:24 So many people think that,
04:27 well, I'll just pretend it away or I'll just work around it
04:32 and not ever face it and deal with it
04:35 and when we don't do that,
04:37 it does cause a lot of problems in our lives.
04:41 Many people will choose to use substances
04:45 to drown out the pain, to numb it out,
04:47 to do anything but do the work of grieving.
04:51 So one of my favorite quotes about what grief is,
04:56 comes from Earl Grollman and I'll read that,
05:00 "Grief is not a disorder or a disease
05:04 or a sign of weakness.
05:06 It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity."
05:10 Amen.
05:12 "It's the price we pay for love.
05:14 The only cure for grief is to grieve."
05:18 Amen.
05:20 You know, what a concept, it's necessary,
05:25 we must do the grieving work in order to grieve.
05:29 And, you know, I will add one to that.
05:31 Oh, please do. Grief cannot be denied.
05:35 We can try to stuff it, we can try to work around it,
05:40 we can think, you know, "Oh, well, they're better off"
05:43 and whatever thoughts we might have
05:45 but if we do not allow ourselves to grieve,
05:48 it will pop up at some point in time.
05:51 I mean, grief does have very definite impact
05:57 physically, emotionally, mentally
06:00 and there's no denying it.
06:03 We'll try to deny it...
06:04 Yeah, we'll try. Amen. But it will still be with us.
06:08 So any of our losses
06:12 do affect us for the rest of our life.
06:14 And while it's very unnatural to lose a child,
06:18 for a child to die before a parent dies.
06:21 I'd like to just remind us all,
06:23 that no matter the extremity of the loss,
06:26 no matter how violent
06:30 or unprepared or horrific
06:35 or awful that loss might be,
06:37 God's grace in healing goes beyond that.
06:40 Amen.
06:41 We can never get off to a point in our pain,
06:44 that God doesn't go further.
06:46 And I think that's really an important first note
06:50 to really make us strong.
06:51 And that, how true that is.
06:53 But tell us some of the symptoms,
06:56 if you will of grief.
06:58 Like, you've mentioned it is physical, it is mental,
07:01 it is emotional and it's even, I mean,
07:04 it can have a very definite spiritual impact.
07:06 What are some of the things...
07:08 Yeah, it does, it really, really does.
07:11 Can I just mention one thing before I go to that point?
07:13 Surely.
07:14 Because sometimes we think of grief
07:17 as only occurring when someone we know passes away or dies.
07:22 But there is grief in all of life's losses.
07:25 So some of those other losses would include
07:28 the loss of health as people age
07:30 and their eyesight diminishes
07:32 or they can't play tennis or snow-ski any longer.
07:35 There's losses in relationships
07:38 because there's misunderstandings,
07:40 there can be losses in...
07:42 When our pet dies and we mourn and grieve over that
07:45 or a loss of a job.
07:48 What about the loss of our home through fire or devastation?
07:52 I mean, you guys live here where there are tornadoes
07:55 and that kind of weather and can ruin homes
07:58 and then there's a loss through divorce
08:01 or the loss of innocence and trust,
08:05 the loss of a dream.
08:07 So these are all losses that we encounter
08:09 and the reassuring news is that,
08:13 Jesus was a man acquainted with sorrows...
08:16 Amen. And grief, so does He care?
08:20 Does He know?
08:21 Does He understand? Absolutely.
08:23 Yeah, and that's the comforting news
08:27 that we get from God and from scripture,
08:29 is that He does know our pain.
08:32 There's nothing about our pain that is unfamiliar to Him.
08:35 Not just because He's looking up from above
08:37 and can see it down below
08:39 but because He's actually been below.
08:41 And He's actually experienced...
08:42 Experienced everything...
08:44 This pain.
08:45 The Bible says in Hebrews 2
08:47 that He became like us in all ways
08:50 because this is what qualified Him,
08:53 then to be a faithful high priest.
08:56 So He does understand everything
08:58 that we've been through, amen.
09:00 And as He's a faithful high priest,
09:01 could we take license to say
09:04 the most qualified comforter we can find.
09:06 The one who knows our broken hearts.
09:08 Yeah.
09:10 So the term that we use
09:11 for the loss of a death of a loved one
09:14 or death of someone important to us.
09:17 Sometimes someone will die
09:18 that's in our circle of influence,
09:20 that we might not really love
09:22 but they've been important in one way or another.
09:25 That term that we use
09:27 for that type of loss is bereavement.
09:30 And now we know we're talking about
09:31 something that's specific to the death of a human being,
09:35 of a life and that,
09:36 that person's presence is not with us any longer.
09:40 So if we wanna talk about
09:43 some of the different experiences of grief,
09:47 I find it's really best to start with a mental eraser.
09:52 Have you ever heard the term, 'the stages of grief?'
09:54 Yes. Okay.
09:56 And we think, "Oh, yeah, stages of grief.
09:58 I think that they add shock and denial,
10:02 it seems like it's anger and depression
10:05 and then finally we make an adjustment" and well,
10:08 I would suggest that we take a mental eraser
10:12 and erase those stages of grief.
10:14 And this is why, Elisabeth Kubler Ross
10:18 was the person who did this research work
10:21 and put these stages out there for us to,
10:23 kind of, label our processes with.
10:26 But the research she did was observing people
10:31 in their terminal illness, people facing their own death.
10:36 Okay.
10:38 And so as she saw that, she saw these familiar stages
10:42 that each person went through
10:44 and since it was called grieving
10:46 and it went over that umbrella of grief,
10:48 of all those losses we've just talked about,
10:51 we've done...
10:52 Tried to apply that to life after loss,
10:55 those of us that survive
10:57 that are now living in this space of grief
11:02 and we can't make that.
11:05 It doesn't fit.
11:07 I tried to, after our son died, I tried to go, "Okay,
11:10 so this is this stage of grief
11:12 and now this is this stage of grief"
11:14 but it didn't work that way at all.
11:17 And no two people grieve alike. Yes.
11:20 You know, and it happens,
11:22 there's different reactions at different times.
11:25 Nothing is tidy and in order,
11:26 there's nothing that you can do a check-list and say,
11:29 "I've been through this, I've been through this"
11:30 'cause you may hit, you may be in anger
11:33 and think you've worked through that
11:34 and then find that you've come back to anger.
11:37 No two people grieve alike.
11:39 Yeah, and we're gonna talk about that again
11:42 towards the very end of our session today.
11:46 So I just wanted to, kind of, get that clear.
11:48 So that our listeners, our viewers could,
11:52 kind of, sit back and revaluate,
11:54 "Okay, I don't have to plug myself
11:57 into someone's formula,
11:59 I can just be grieving in the way that I grieve."
12:04 And that's for a lot of different reasons
12:06 that we grieve each, individually.
12:08 So I call them the experiences of grief.
12:11 And what's going to happen
12:13 is that we're going to experience grief
12:14 physiologically and emotionally and spiritually.
12:20 So would you like to know a little bit
12:22 about our physical grief?
12:24 Please. Okay.
12:25 Well, physically, one of the first things
12:27 that occurs is that our entire body is affected.
12:31 That's a traumatizing shock,
12:35 of the now absence of someone we love is,
12:40 hits us so hard that it's not just an emotional reaction.
12:45 That's true.
12:47 Our heads are connected to our body
12:49 and the center framework of our brain
12:52 has all kinds of nerves
12:56 that move in to the rest of our body.
12:59 And so one of the first things that will occur
13:02 is that our entire immune system will take a hit.
13:05 And that will last for about 12 months.
13:08 And one of those reasons that the 12 months is,
13:10 kind of, given is that,
13:12 we have now this year's period of time
13:15 to face all these firsts without our loved one.
13:19 Yes, yes.
13:20 And those firsts take upto a year to face.
13:25 So knowing that our immune system is jeopardized,
13:29 can help us to really make better choices
13:31 about what we eat
13:32 and how we take care of our health,
13:34 taking in extra vitamin Cs or doing whatever we can,
13:37 so that we will help ourselves,
13:39 not be at such a risk for getting physically ill
13:42 on top of it.
13:43 And the sad truth of it is,
13:45 is that quite often there are a number of people,
13:47 one thing that I do when I'm grieving
13:50 'cause I'm good at trying to stuff my feelings
13:52 and get on with things.
13:53 But one thing that I've noticed that I do,
13:56 is I don't eat as well.
13:57 I eat.
13:59 I have a tendency to eat "comfort food"
14:02 or to crave things that I normally wouldn't eat.
14:07 So it's interesting that, you bring this point up first
14:12 because for someone that's at home
14:14 going through this now, please hear that
14:17 it is a very definite physical reaction in your body.
14:22 I think part of it is,
14:24 stress increases the inflammation in our body
14:29 which has something to do with...
14:30 Stress really does effect the immune system.
14:33 Oh, absolutely.
14:35 So you need to be taking more vitamin C,
14:37 you need to be trying to get out in some sunlight
14:40 et cetera, so go ahead.
14:42 And I speak about that in my book,
14:44 there is a section on,
14:45 the physiology of grieving but there's some other...
14:48 And since you mentioned your book,
14:49 let me go ahead and mention that,
14:51 Karen after her experience, when did you write?
14:54 How long has it been, 30 years since your son died?
14:57 It has been 30 years.
14:59 And I'm sure that seems almost impossible for you to believe.
15:03 It does.
15:04 Karen is the author of...
15:06 It's a journal,
15:08 it's something that you can go through
15:11 and use the book to find comfort
15:15 for emotional, physical grief
15:19 and it's got some wonderful prayer promises in the...
15:24 Promises of the Bible, here to help you
15:28 but it's a place,
15:29 it's, kind of, an outline telling you how to go
15:32 about journaling your thoughts,
15:35 journaling God's response to you
15:37 and a wonderful book, it's called,
15:40 "Comfort for the Day, living through the seasons of grief."
15:46 So we'll just talk about that now and then we go...
15:49 We'll talk about it again later.
15:50 But some more physical reactions
15:52 that we experience would be,
15:53 we even have a reduction of vision,
15:55 our eyesight might just really wing out on us,
15:59 will have headaches and stomach aches, chest pain.
16:02 I had such deep chest pain, there's almost a fear like,
16:06 am I having a heart attack.
16:09 There will be muscle pain and it just...
16:11 All top to bottom body aching, fatigue,
16:17 disruption in sleep habits.
16:20 A definitely, disruption in our digestive system,
16:24 craving those foods that you might not normally eat
16:26 or losing one's appetite altogether and not eating
16:30 and maintaining enough calories to live in a healthy way.
16:34 So it can go both directions, mental confusion,
16:40 our mortician encouraged us,
16:43 "Please don't drive for a couple of weeks"
16:47 and we, kind of, looked at him, like,
16:49 "Oh, okay" and didn't heed his advice
16:54 and the day after our son's funeral,
16:56 we were delivering the funeral flowers
16:59 that did not set well with me in my home.
17:03 I wanted my son in my home, not these flowers...
17:05 Yes.
17:06 And so I needed to get the flowers out
17:09 and so not...
17:11 we didn't want to throw them away,
17:12 so we put them in vases and we're gonna take them
17:14 to convalescent home, so folks could enjoy them.
17:18 Driving across town, to get to the local convalescent home,
17:21 we found ourselves lost.
17:25 So that mental confusion is definitely there,
17:28 you can't focus, there's just been so much trauma
17:32 that the mind has a very difficult time
17:34 processing just normal activities.
17:37 And praise God you didn't say...
17:38 I was expecting you to say you ran in...
17:40 Accident, no, thankfully we weren't in an accident
17:43 but that could occur
17:44 and then you have only pain upon pain,
17:46 so rather than, you know, bucking it up and going,
17:50 "Okay, I'm gonna work this through,
17:51 I'm gonna just do this and..."
17:53 Let's not.
17:55 Let's honor what's happening to our bodies
17:59 because someone we love deeply is not with us.
18:03 That's huge.
18:05 I just want to bring this question up somewhere...
18:08 we're, kind of, flying by the seat of our pants here
18:10 but and it may not be the right time,
18:15 but I'd like to address this before the end of this program.
18:19 As Christians, sometimes
18:21 we're made to feel guilty for grieving.
18:24 It is that, you know, "Well, don't you have faith in God
18:28 and, you know, God's will and God's plan for your life,"
18:32 so there are a lot of people, I'm just so glad
18:35 you're going through what these symptoms are
18:38 because sometimes we feel guilty
18:40 for experiencing these things.
18:43 We feel guilty when we get to that point of,
18:45 especially, if you're breaking into tears
18:47 in front of somebody, you see people
18:49 who are just trying to be so strong
18:51 and, you know, well, we give God all glory.
18:56 I'd like to talk about the fact that it's okay to grieve.
19:02 You have to grieve, so.
19:04 Well, I think, having said that,
19:06 just regain the reminder,
19:08 Jesus is our example in all things.
19:09 Yes.
19:11 He was a man acquainted with sorrows and grief.
19:14 Full of sorrow and acquainted with grief.
19:17 And what we don't see in actual biblical story,
19:20 of how he mourned or how he grieved.
19:22 We do see that he did cry, he did weep uncontrollably
19:27 over the loss of his people of Israel.
19:32 So would he not give us permission...
19:34 And I think we...
19:35 To weep over someone.
19:37 And we see also in the garden of Gethsemane,
19:41 I mean, he was in a depression,
19:44 even in the garden of Gethsemane,
19:46 he was so oppressed and what was coming that,
19:49 you know, he cried vehemently,
19:52 with the loud cries he was addressing God
19:55 and he actually sweat drops of blood.
19:58 So we do see he was familiar with grief,
20:02 he does understand.
20:03 He knows the anguish of a broken heart.
20:05 And that's what we're experiencing
20:07 and I'm glad you mentioned tears
20:08 because that's the last physiological experience
20:13 that I wanted to hit on, is that our tears are the honor
20:20 we give to the one we love.
20:24 And today's medical science is doing research
20:27 about the chemical composition of tears
20:30 and when we tear out of joy,
20:32 the chemical composition looks very different
20:35 than when we tear out of bereavement.
20:36 That's interesting.
20:38 And when we tear out of bereavement,
20:39 those tears actually contain body toxins.
20:44 So there is healing in our tears
20:46 and sadly our culture does not provide,
20:50 particularly for men to have that freedom to weep
20:55 and to cry, we are, kind of, told that,
20:59 you know, we have to be strong and strong in the Lord
21:01 and show everybody, you know, your faith and how good it is.
21:04 Well, my faith allows me to grieve.
21:08 I want to grieve though in a way
21:11 that is in a healthy way.
21:13 A way that is directed by my Great Physician
21:17 who is in the process of healing my broken heart.
21:20 And that we have freedom to do,
21:23 so should anybody suggest to someone, you know,
21:26 don't grieve,
21:27 you shouldn't grieve over this loss.
21:29 You can look at them and say, you know,
21:31 my Savior knows my broken heart
21:33 and he's given me permission to grieve.
21:36 And shame on people who say those kind of things
21:39 but we're gonna address that in an another program.
21:41 They just don't know, they don't know
21:42 but our emotional grief
21:44 will take on many different aspects of the emotional life
21:47 and that includes, 'shock,'
21:50 that's definitely, kind of, a first deal
21:53 but with that shock often comes a sense of relief
21:56 and some people feel guilty for feeling relief,
21:59 you know, I'll explain,
22:01 you know, if someone has been by the bed side
22:03 of a terminal loved one
22:06 or in the process of the long good bye
22:08 as in alzheimer's.
22:11 There is overwhelming relief
22:14 that that loved one no longer is suffering or is in pain
22:19 but because we don't have enough support
22:22 in our grief, we sometimes withdraw and say,
22:26 "Oh, I shouldn't feel that way.
22:27 I shouldn't feel that relief"
22:29 and so it's good to know that if we have that relief,
22:34 that's natural, that's normal, it's necessary, it's grieving.
22:39 There will be fear, there can be anger and despair,
22:43 there can be depression,
22:45 blame is another experience and guilt and regret.
22:50 We can blame ourselves, we can blame the medical staff,
22:53 we can blame a drunk driver and we can hold on to that
22:57 and in anyone of these places emotionally, we can get stuck.
23:04 And then we know, "Oh, this isn't healthy grieving.
23:07 I'm stuck here," but sometimes if we're not even aware
23:11 that we're blaming
23:13 or that we're just over burdened with guilt,
23:15 we can stay in that for a lifetime
23:17 and it will ruin our lives and relationships around us.
23:22 Sometimes there's anxiety, there certainly is sadness
23:26 and just an overall malice or pain emotionally,
23:30 then finally in the grieving journey,
23:32 there becomes to have a readjustment
23:36 and then acceptance
23:39 and we find ourselves on the other side
23:41 of that deep dark valley of the shadow of death.
23:45 And then something...
23:48 My aunt told me, she was married for 55 years
23:51 and she did watch my uncle, died a lingering,
23:55 it was over a period of several years
23:57 that he was bed-ridden.
23:59 But when he died, she told me a few years later,
24:05 we have had her out here at our home.
24:08 And she said, you know, I said, "How are you doing?"
24:11 'Cause she's always such a strong woman
24:14 and she's faced a lot of grief,
24:16 I've mentioned to you in the green room,
24:18 her son was four years old and died of a sudden...
24:23 He had meningitis and he died on Christmas day.
24:27 Well, when my uncle died, you know, she always...
24:31 When you talk to her, she'd sound so strong
24:33 but she told me that it took a year
24:37 to get her feet under her
24:39 and another year to walk without wobbling.
24:44 That's nicely said.
24:46 And I've shared that with a lot of people
24:48 who've lost a spouse and everyone identifies.
24:51 But the point is that,
24:53 that first year she would watch,
24:54 they traveled a lot, did lot of family vacations
24:58 and she said she would watch the DVDs
25:03 or the film that they had taken during these vacations
25:05 and she would weep sometimes uncontrollably.
25:09 And after that period, when you...
25:11 As you said, you cross the chasm,
25:13 then suddenly it's like a curtain was drawn back
25:19 and on these memories,
25:21 it was like this, grief was drawn back.
25:24 Suddenly, she's finding joy from watching them.
25:28 You know, because they became comforting to her,
25:31 after she crossed the chasm.
25:33 But it can effect us spiritually, can it not?
25:36 It does, it does and one of the things
25:38 that often occurs for a follower of Jesus,
25:42 for someone who loves God and trusts God.
25:45 There can be a faith crisis
25:48 and that crisis of faith can feel like,
25:53 the sure ground beneath her feet
25:55 has just opened up and we're just free falling
25:59 and there are deep questions that we have of God, 'Why?
26:04 God, did this happen to me?
26:06 And how am I gonna live through this pain
26:09 that is seemingly unbearable this moment?
26:13 I can't even think that I can get through this day.
26:16 And where were you, God, when these things occurred?'
26:21 and so, I would just encourage all viewers
26:26 to stay with God in the process.
26:29 Let Him reveal himself to you,
26:32 He knows best when our hearts are ready
26:35 and able to hear the answers to the questions,
26:39 the screaming questions we have for Him.
26:42 And one example of that for me is,
26:44 when my daughter was about two, she was asking me,
26:47 "Mommy, where does hair come?
26:51 How's our hair made?"
26:54 And I laughed at myself and thought,
26:58 this is a prime example of the questions
27:02 we rail at God, that we are not mentally,
27:06 spiritually ready to receive His answers.
27:09 Yes.
27:10 I couldn't explain to my two year old daughter
27:12 where hair was from, could I?
27:14 She didn't have the background in chemistry
27:17 to know and understand
27:18 that they're dead protein cells.
27:20 And we do that with God and so if we can just sit back
27:23 and say, "Okay, God, these are all my questions
27:25 and you're chest is big enough for me to beat on you
27:27 as long as I need to, it doesn't offend you
27:30 and you're still with me in my pain."
27:32 Amen and I cannot believe our time is already gone,
27:34 you're going to come back.
27:36 What are we gonna be speaking about next week?
27:37 We're gonna start with the spiral of grief,
27:40 spiral of bereavement
27:41 and then what forgiveness has to do with that.
27:45 Amen.
27:46 Thank you so much for being here
27:48 and I wanted to just add real quickly.
27:49 Sometimes, it's not so much of free fall,
27:52 as some people in their grieving process
27:55 become apathetic, they just, they don't feel like studying,
27:59 they don't feel like reading because it is something that...
28:02 It's a depression is really what it is,
28:05 so there's many different things to experience
28:08 and we're gonna be speaking next week
28:10 again with Karen Nicola and we thank you for joining us
28:14 and hope you will tune in next week,
28:16 as we go through this spiral of grief
28:19 and get a little deeper into this topic.
28:21 Thank you.


Revised 2016-10-24