Participants: Shelley Quinn (Host), Karen Nicola
Series Code: IAA
Program Code: IAA000468A
00:01 Join us today on Issues and Answers
00:02 as we welcome back author
00:04 and grief counselor Karen Nicola.
00:07 And we were going to be talking about grief work.
00:42 Hello, I'm Shelley Quinn, and we welcome you
00:44 once again to Issues and Answers.
00:46 Today, we're going to cover a very fascinating topic.
00:50 We are speaking with author
00:52 and grief counselor Karen Nicola.
00:55 She has a ministry called Comfort for the Day.
00:57 And she has written a book called Comfort for the Day,
01:00 which is actually something
01:03 we're gonna talk about more in this program
01:05 because it is a journal,
01:06 and we're going to be speaking
01:08 to the idea of working through our grief,
01:12 things that we can do,
01:14 positive steps that we're allowing God to do in our life.
01:18 And of course it all has to do with trust in God
01:23 and knowing that His word is a light to our feet
01:27 and a lamp to our path.
01:28 Karen, we are so thankful to have you back again.
01:31 Thank you, Shelley.
01:33 And we've enjoyed this.
01:34 This is the third in a series that programs
01:36 that we've done with you, talking to what is grief,
01:40 speaking about the grief spiral,
01:43 the different stages and phases of grief
01:47 that not the typical five stage thing we hear about
01:51 because that doesn't really imply,
01:53 but today you wanted to call
01:56 this program Grief Work.
01:59 And I was kind of...
02:01 A catchy title caught me off guard.
02:03 Let's just jump right into grief work.
02:08 Good because grief work needs to be jumped into.
02:12 And most people don't have a clue
02:15 that they have any part to play in their grieving.
02:18 That is just something that happens at them
02:21 or happens from within side,
02:22 they're just going through this emotional rollercoaster ride
02:25 and it's just what it is.
02:26 And there is no understanding that
02:29 we can take back some control in our life
02:32 when all control has been stripped away.
02:35 And part of that regaining control is
02:38 actually making intentional purposeful decisions
02:42 of cooperating with God's healing for our broken heart.
02:45 So one of the illustrations I like to use is,
02:48 if I might fly here to 3ABN,
02:51 I fell off down off the airplane and broke my leg
02:55 somewhere in the runway or something like that,
02:57 and I came hobbling in
03:00 and had never gone to the hospital
03:02 to have it treated
03:03 because I got to get here to 3ABN.
03:06 I need to get this taping done.
03:07 So I'm here, I've got this broken leg,
03:09 and then I go home
03:11 and I never really attend to it.
03:13 Is my life going to be affected for the rest of my life?
03:16 Yes, it will be.
03:17 And it's something that
03:18 everybody can see from the outside now
03:20 I have a damaged broken leg.
03:23 But what we can't see is
03:25 when people have a damaged broken heart.
03:30 And we go through life not attending that broken heart
03:34 just like I wouldn't attend a broken leg would be absurd.
03:39 But it's what we do.
03:41 You know, there is something coming.
03:42 I don't think I can articulate this
03:44 but when you said that, I thought,
03:45 yeah, you have to go back and reset the leg.
03:48 You go through physical therapy and when we're grieving,
03:52 it's like you have to set the reset button
03:55 like you do on a computer almost.
03:57 You got to go back
03:58 and intentionally do some things
04:00 like the physical therapy for the leg, right?
04:03 Yeah, absolutely.
04:04 And we all know, I mean,
04:05 a torn rotator cuff is another example.
04:08 You know, someone's arm
04:09 and they got to have the surgery
04:11 and then the physical therapy begins,
04:12 so when that physical therapy begins is that...
04:17 Yes, exactly, it's very painful.
04:20 So first of all I'd like for our viewers
04:22 to understand that grief work is painful.
04:26 I'm not going to pretend and say,
04:27 oh, it all gets better,
04:29 it's no nice, it's so easy, you can do this.
04:33 But what we need to understand is the value of pain.
04:37 And if we...
04:39 Let me ask you this real quickly.
04:40 If we don't address the pain, I mean because...
04:43 I think the reason people don't deal with it is
04:47 because it is painful.
04:49 Some people won't go through counseling
04:51 because it's too painful
04:52 to bring up the memories of the past.
04:56 I'm thinking of an individual right now
04:58 who lost her husband
05:01 10 years ago, 11 years go.
05:04 And she stuck in a grieving cycle
05:09 and you just see this rollercoaster.
05:13 So someone like her
05:16 has never really let allowed God
05:20 to apply the balm of Gilead.
05:24 And so what you're saying is this person,
05:25 I mean if we don't go through the painful experience
05:29 of cooperating with God to receive healing,
05:32 then we're gonna be hobbling around
05:33 with the leg that's out like this,
05:37 and essentially you're gonna be stuck in pain
05:40 for years to come.
05:43 So we just need to ask ourselves...
05:45 Do I want to live the rest of my life
05:50 handicapped, hampered,
05:52 damaged from my grief experience,
05:55 or do I want to live the rest of my life
05:58 whole, resorted
06:00 and as God would call me to His healing.
06:05 And, you know,
06:06 whether we are Christians or not,
06:08 a lot of people choose the,
06:11 because of ignorance choose the handicapped hurtful place
06:15 to live the rest of their lives
06:16 because they ignorantly are unaware
06:19 that there is healthy grief work
06:22 that can take them through
06:24 to a restored healthy life again.
06:27 Both ways our lives will forever be changed.
06:31 I just have to say to those who are watching today.
06:34 Many spouses, many married couples
06:37 find that there are things that they do that trigger
06:41 a certain response from their spouse
06:44 and they get so confused by this.
06:47 I hope you're paying close attention
06:50 to what we're talking about today
06:51 because typically speaking,
06:53 when there is a trigger point in someone's life,
06:56 it is connected to some kind of grief in the past
07:01 with which they've not dealt.
07:03 That's right.
07:05 And as you say that, hurting people hurt people.
07:09 So if our broken heart remains broken,
07:12 charred, has rough edges
07:14 and we just keep living through our life
07:17 without doing the grief work to let the healing occur,
07:21 we will be a hurting apparent person
07:23 who hurts people,
07:25 and it just happens.
07:27 Tell us so what is this grief work?
07:29 So this grief work first of all is to say okay,
07:32 if I can endure physical pain to restore an arm
07:36 in physical therapy or a leg in physical therapy,
07:39 can I endure emotional pain.
07:42 You bet we can
07:43 because the Lord never leads us
07:45 to something that's beyond our capacity.
07:47 And it is his purpose to heal the broken heart,
07:50 but he understands
07:51 that it is painful along the way.
07:53 And so he brings the Holy Spirit to comfort us.
07:56 He comforts us through his word,
07:58 through scripture,
07:59 and that's what I think is so important about
08:02 the book that I wrote.
08:04 This is a guided, scripture guided
08:07 grief recovery journal.
08:09 This is not about me and my loss
08:12 and how I process grief.
08:14 This becomes the reader story
08:16 of how God's word is helping them heal their brokenness.
08:21 Now let me ask you,
08:22 is this the process when you lost your son
08:24 at three and half years to leukemia,
08:27 and this was 30 years go.
08:29 Did you know, where you already...
08:32 Did you employ this process or was this something
08:35 that you learned later.
08:37 I absolutely, I had already...
08:39 Interestingly enough, I began journaling
08:44 when I became pregnant with him.
08:47 So I had been journaling for a couple of years.
08:49 And the habit in my journal writing
08:51 was to address my journals and entries to God.
08:55 I wanted him to hear about my joys,
08:58 my fears, my concerns,
09:00 my, you know, throughout my pregnancy
09:02 and what it was like to give him birth
09:05 and certainly when he first was diagnosed with leukemia,
09:08 I journaled and journaled my broken heart,
09:11 you know, what's happening, my questions our fate, crisis.
09:14 So I had, had some experience with journaling,
09:18 but I really want the audience to understand that
09:23 journaling does not mean that you have to be a writer,
09:29 You don't have to write anything
09:31 in perfect handwriting.
09:32 You don't have to use perfect spelling.
09:34 You don't have to use grammar.
09:35 All that we are doing is that
09:38 we're releasing from our mind and our heart
09:43 the things that we throw around and around
09:45 and around and around and around
09:46 until we would get them out.
09:48 I know there is no science for this
09:50 but I really believe
09:52 that the amount of time it takes
09:53 to get a thought down the arm and the hand
09:57 and written on paper
09:59 leave space for the Holy Spirit to follow and heal.
10:04 You know, it's interesting,
10:05 I have a teaching called
10:07 Pressing into his Presence that I teach.
10:08 This is where God changed my life.
10:11 I learned to journal my prayers at addressing
10:15 as if they were letters to God and there were prayers to God.
10:18 And one thing that I found in journaling is that
10:25 you are so much more focused,
10:28 you're focused on God,
10:30 you're not having all of the distractions
10:33 and the interruptions.
10:35 The process of having to write it,
10:37 I actually typed mine
10:38 for many, many years, you know.
10:41 But the process of writing,
10:45 you are employing all of yours senses
10:48 and then it opens you up to be able to hear
10:54 the impression of the still small voice upon your mind.
10:57 That's right.
10:58 That's exactly right.
10:59 And so when I talk about grief work,
11:03 it is an intentional purposeful activity
11:08 that we as mourners say,
11:11 either this morning, this afternoon,
11:12 or this evening, I'm gonna do my grief work.
11:15 I'm gonna sit down either with Karen's book
11:18 or my own empty journal or God's word by myself.
11:22 I'm gonna sit down and I'm gonna write about
11:25 what is happening to me right now.
11:28 I'm gonna write about the questions,
11:29 the pain, the anger, the regret.
11:31 I'm gonna write about the acceptance, the fears.
11:35 I'm gonna write about whatever it might be,
11:38 the experience that we're experiencing grief right now.
11:41 And that's my grief work.
11:43 I'm going to let that exit
11:46 my mind and heart and body
11:48 and find its place on paper.
11:51 One of the advantages, you know, a lot of people say,
11:53 well, just go, talk to a friend about it,
11:56 and that's beautiful.
11:58 And if we have those kind of friends,
12:00 what a gift that is.
12:01 But as soon the word leaves my mouth,
12:04 it comes back into my ear.
12:07 When the word leaves my body, it stays on that paper.
12:13 And so if I'm haunted by guilts and regrets.
12:17 If I'm haunted by an image,
12:20 the physical image of my son committing suicide
12:23 or of being there at the scene of an accident,
12:26 those traumatic violent, unaccepted deaths,
12:32 I can put that out on paper and it leaves me for a season.
12:36 It's pretty cathartic.
12:38 Yeah, it's not that it might not come back
12:40 but in its return, I know where to take it gain.
12:44 And I can take it again and again
12:46 and that's the grief work.
12:48 If I'm not willing to do the grief work,
12:51 where does the grief go?
12:54 To be honest there is very few people
12:56 who have the kind of friend
12:59 that they will tell everything to.
13:01 We all have...
13:03 are very good about verbal camouflage.
13:05 You know, you might tell a portion of it
13:07 but you're leaving out what is most painful
13:09 where as if you're addressing God,
13:11 you can get down to this,
13:13 and sometimes you don't even recognize
13:15 what's most painful until you actually do begin to...
13:18 Start the writing...
13:20 Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
13:21 And the importance of addressing it to God
13:25 rather than just blindly say, well, today,
13:27 I started out and I'm experiencing this
13:28 and that and so forth.
13:31 By addressing it to God,
13:33 we are entrusting it to the only power
13:35 that can do something about it.
13:37 And so, David's Psalms are his journal entries
13:42 as far as I'm concerned.
13:44 And in that he is starting many of his psalms raging
13:49 and angry and in anguish over something,
13:53 and by the time he is finished,
13:55 there is a voice of praise
13:57 'cause something that is changed
13:59 in that process that we see in those psalms, yeah.
14:03 Psalms 51 especially and particularly
14:05 since we talked about forgiveness
14:07 in our last week session.
14:09 Psalms 51 is his journal entry of
14:12 what took place after Bathsheba
14:16 and this baby that died and Uriah,
14:19 and all of that grief, and the guilt, and the regret,
14:23 and there's need for forgiveness,
14:24 and he journals that there.
14:27 It's the most beautiful psalm of repentance.
14:29 I mean the steps of repentance are right there
14:32 and it's beautiful.
14:34 I'm so glad that he was the manly king of Israel
14:38 who did this because I hear from many men, oh,
14:41 journaling is not for me.
14:44 And again our culture it's like,
14:46 well, crying is not for me.
14:47 Our culture just inhibits the man
14:50 from being able to grieve in healthy ways.
14:55 You know, and I will say...
14:58 Although I teach that journaling is very effective
15:02 if you're trying to press into the presence of the Lord.
15:04 I always tell people
15:05 you don't have to journal to pray to God
15:08 because my husband is a man of prayer
15:10 but if he had to journal, he would not do it.
15:12 However I'm going to take that back as an exception.
15:16 It's different when you're working through grief.
15:19 The grief.
15:21 I see, I mean,
15:22 this just makes perfect sense to me.
15:24 We are on the same page
15:26 because this is something
15:28 that anybody can do and should do.
15:31 I mean, there were going to go to a counselor,
15:36 if they were going to a psychologist,
15:38 they would give them lists of questions
15:40 and pages to write out things because even, you know,
15:45 psychology understands
15:47 there is something about getting it out on paper,
15:50 but how much more valuable
15:52 when you're involving the Lord, you're addressing the Lord,
15:55 the Holy Spirit then becomes your partner
15:58 in helping you to pray to God
16:01 and brings up things that you may not even be aware of.
16:05 You know, it's something that's under the surface,
16:08 so he can get below skin level.
16:12 Another area of grief work involves
16:14 taking care of you body physically.
16:17 And being very intentional and very mindful
16:20 about not exposing yourself
16:25 to things that would add more pain to you,
16:28 such as, you know, violent TV shows
16:31 and the kind of things that or loud and rock music
16:36 or things that would just add to that pain.
16:40 It means making choices about an exercise program,
16:45 including exercise and making choices
16:47 about eating well, and sleeping well,
16:51 and drinking water, and getting sunshine.
16:53 We have access to these natural remedies
16:56 as they are referred to.
16:57 And they are there as a remedy for the broken heart
17:01 as well as the physical body.
17:02 But at what point can someone do this...
17:08 I start to say self directed,
17:09 of course you hope the Holy Spirit is involved
17:11 because it seems to me,
17:13 this is a point and I think next time you come,
17:16 we're gonna talk about becoming good counselors
17:20 to those who grief be comforters.
17:22 But it seems to me that
17:26 it would be very difficult to concentrate on your health
17:30 or doing things in those first few months after
17:33 because so many people want to close in,
17:36 want to get, go into the room,
17:39 put the covers over the head and not come out.
17:41 At what point is this realistic to say, okay,
17:45 you need to intentionally go out take walks,
17:48 get sunshine, get some exercise and eat well.
17:51 People aren't thinking so much about themselves...
17:55 I'm struggling here but at what point do you think
17:58 this actually becomes realistic in the grief work?
18:01 It's absolutely necessary in grief work and here again,
18:04 we got to come back and ask ourselves,
18:06 am I willing to endure the pain or the discomfort.
18:09 Just as if I was doing physical therapy
18:11 to restore this strength in this arm
18:13 or the physical therapy for my broken leg.
18:16 Am I willing to give a try?
18:19 Am I willing to be intentional?
18:22 In my book I have a whole section
18:23 about the physiology of grieving
18:25 with the recommendations of how to find
18:29 and incorporate the physical grief work
18:32 that we need to do
18:33 to maintain our physical health.
18:36 You see if we let our physical health
18:39 diminish in bereavement,
18:43 we reduce the capacity to grieve
18:45 in a healthy way emotionally
18:47 because we're whole body system,
18:49 we're not one or the other.
18:51 And so one thing we can control.
18:53 I cannot control the wave of emotion
18:55 that might come my way,
18:57 but I can control that I'll go outside
18:59 and take a 15 minute walk.
19:01 That I can control.
19:03 I can control that
19:04 I will drink an X amount of glasses of good clean water.
19:08 Those are things that we can control,
19:10 so in a way it's almost more realistic to suggest
19:17 and consider taking on the physical steps
19:21 of keeping our physical body healthy
19:24 than it is to even consider the emotional steps.
19:27 I'm kind of laughing over here
19:28 because I have a hard time controlling
19:30 that just in a regular...
19:32 You know, 'cause we just do such work, you know,
19:35 your work flow...
19:36 Work driven...
19:38 Yeah, you're work driven so I'm having,
19:39 I mean someone would have to literally
19:40 walk me through those steps.
19:42 And I do that a bit in the books,
19:44 so that people can go,
19:45 okay, well, I could try this today.
19:46 I don't have to do all of them
19:48 but maybe I could incorporate this piece
19:50 of taking care of my physical body
19:52 and see it as my part of doing my grief work.
19:59 And yeah, it might be uncomfortable or unusual
20:01 or different, but this is my grief work.
20:05 This is the season to do my grief work.
20:07 If I delayed the season for my grief work,
20:10 will it still need to be done?
20:13 Yep, absolutely.
20:14 I can put 10 years between it, 20 years before
20:16 but the grief work will still need to be done
20:18 if I want a healed heart.
20:22 So whether it's the emotional work
20:24 working something through a journal
20:26 or the physical work,
20:27 of taking care of our physical bodies.
20:29 This is part of what grief work is.
20:31 Amen. Yeah.
20:33 There is more grief work.
20:35 Okay. Okay.
20:37 That comes on a cyclical basis
20:40 and particularly during the first year
20:43 when we encounter all of the first,
20:46 the first birthday, the first anniversary,
20:49 first Christmas, Thanksgiving,
20:51 Valentine, 4th of July
20:53 whatever were those favorite or unusual holidays,
20:56 the season of the year
20:58 that one would travel with their spouses.
20:59 First anniversary of the death.
21:01 First anniversary of the death.
21:03 What do we do?
21:04 That's the difficult one.
21:06 Yeah. Yeah.
21:07 That is.
21:09 I am definitely want to encourage
21:12 people not to shove it under a rug,
21:17 not to pretend,
21:20 that we really do our grief work,
21:22 that we face it head on.
21:25 And what we face head on early on,
21:29 we never have to cross that as a first time again.
21:32 So my husband and I really took that to heart.
21:37 And we discovered that
21:38 the anticipation of the first birthday,
21:43 and the first Christmas was far more intense
21:50 and painful than the actual arrival of that day.
21:54 And so when you arrive at that day
21:55 and you've made plans in preparations for it
21:58 and you work through that day,
22:00 you honor your loved on, and that day now ends.
22:05 I don't ever have to go back and live that day again.
22:08 Not that first one.
22:09 Not that first one again, yeah.
22:11 And so, so the more I'm intentional
22:13 for the first one,
22:15 the second is easier.
22:18 Now, even in a healed heart,
22:25 I visited my son's grave now
22:28 30 years later and did I weep?
22:32 Oh, you bet.
22:35 I will always love my son.
22:40 Nobody will ever take that away from me.
22:43 And is it sad that he is not with me?
22:46 You bet.
22:48 Has God healed my heart
22:49 so that I can live and move and breathe among his creation
22:53 and be of help to other people?
22:55 Yes, he has.
22:57 And he gets all the glory for that.
23:00 Yeah, he does.
23:01 So sometimes we think, oh, well,
23:03 they're going to get over it.
23:07 And if someone isn't crying or weeping, or in depression,
23:10 or in denial,
23:11 and they seem to be living life just fine,
23:13 and we think, oh, they are over it.
23:16 No, we don't get over it.
23:19 It's not like a flue or a cold.
23:21 We live as different human beings
23:23 for the rest of our lives.
23:25 When you lose a loved one, spouse or child,
23:30 someone that's really close,
23:32 the whole rhythm of life is changed.
23:35 And it takes time to get into a new rhythm
23:40 but it doesn't mean that you forget,
23:44 you don't just close the door and shut this,
23:48 it's something that's still there,
23:50 you always remember that.
23:52 But it is the fact that
23:54 I can see where the grief work
23:56 helps you get into a new rhythm.
23:59 Can I just...
24:00 I don't know how much you have left to say,
24:02 but I just want to encourage to share this scripture.
24:06 It's Isaiah 61:3,
24:08 it talks about how God comforts all
24:11 those who mourn and console those,
24:14 he console those who mourn, to give them beauty for ashes,
24:18 the oil of joy for mourning,
24:21 the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
24:25 This is why it's so important to include God in this process,
24:32 I mean, actually...
24:34 I mean, to do without him,
24:35 I don't know how anybody
24:36 goes through the grieving process without the Lord.
24:40 It's a comfort to us
24:42 because we know that
24:44 if our loved one is in the Lord,
24:46 that's a quite a comfort in knowing that
24:49 we have eternity to live with them when Christ returns,
24:54 but what do you do in grief work,
24:58 or do you address this at all.
25:01 How do you counsel to someone, maybe that's next program,
25:05 when their loved one wasn't in the Lord?
25:08 Oh, that's a completely different topic than, yes.
25:13 The short answer to that is that
25:17 we've never been called to judge
25:20 anyone status one way or the other.
25:22 Amen. That is not our calling.
25:23 God has not entrusted that
25:26 piece of his kingdom life to us.
25:29 And so what he has asked us to do is to trust him.
25:33 He is the only heart reader
25:35 who honestly reads our heart and knows.
25:38 So if someone is concerned about the future
25:43 life of eternity with or without a loved one,
25:47 I just encourage them that if you trust God,
25:50 would you trust him with that piece
25:53 because he is the only one that knows.
25:55 He knows best whether someone would live for ever,
25:57 enjoy with him or they would hate
26:00 having to live with him.
26:02 And so the Isaiah verse that
26:05 you opened up to was exactly
26:06 what I wanted to finish up with for today
26:09 because as we face those person as we acknowledge and honor,
26:15 sitting at the grave site of my son is like
26:18 a reset button for me.
26:20 It resets what is truly important in this life
26:24 and what is not.
26:26 It's clear that
26:27 the eternal realities are far more important
26:29 than the temporary sufferings
26:31 and problems and trials
26:33 and etcetera that we might have.
26:36 And so the idea that comes from Isaiah
26:41 about how God's intention is to bring us to so much healing
26:47 that the ashes of mourning,
26:50 that's what you wear in mourning
26:53 that the sack cloth of mourning,
26:55 those are exchanged for crown
26:57 and for garments of praise
27:00 and an oil of joy instead of, you know,
27:04 this despair of sadness.
27:06 And so that's what God offers us,
27:08 that's what he calls us to is this much
27:12 healing in our lives.
27:15 And that's just the beautiful thing
27:17 that if we're willing to cooperate with him
27:19 as my heavenly physician,
27:21 my heavenly therapist,
27:23 the one who knows my heart intimately and perfectly
27:26 that he knows how to take me step by step
27:29 through my valley of the shadow of death threw it,
27:33 I just didn't want to stay but threw it.
27:36 Then I can look at this promise and know that it's for me.
27:42 That is such...
27:43 You know this is the thing about God's word,
27:45 there is such comfort and life.
27:47 These words are alive and active.
27:49 Thank you so much for being with us today, Karen,
27:52 and we look forward to you returning next time
27:55 when we're going to be talking
27:57 how to be good comforters our self,
28:00 how to comfort others.
28:02 And for those of you who are watching,
28:04 I know everyone has been through grief
28:06 at some point in time in their life,
28:08 and we know that if we're alive
28:10 we still have that possibility of grief could be facing us,
28:14 but please tune in next time
28:16 so that we can see
28:18 how we can be an extension of God's comfort to others.
28:23 God bless.