Christian Counselor Directory Blog

Find a Christian Counselor

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Its Important and Necessary to Grieve

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 @ 2:58 PM

Nothing in life can prepare us for the death of a loved one, especially when it’s child who has delighted its parents and relatives. This past year, a dear friend (she's fine with me writing about this- though with no mentioning of names) suffered the immense and traumatic loss of her 10 month old child to the quick onset of pneumonia. It shocked their family into an emotional vertigo and everything spun out of control.

So many friends went to their knees in prayer and cried out to God for this child. But in the last few days of her sweet life, her little lungs couldn't take the stress. Suddenly... she was gone.

Ecclesiastes 3:2,4 describes that "there is a season for everything, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot… a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance."

Whether death results from a sudden accident or an extended illness, it always catches me off-guard. Death is so deeply personal and so stunningly final. I find that nothing can emotionally prepare me for its arrival. Oh my yes, I'm stunned, but mostly heartsick for my dear friend. And the baby.... oh how soft and beautiful she was! How can she be now gone?

With every death, there is a loss. And with every loss, there will be a deep and profound grief. Talking about that loss and anguish and rage is so very necessary. It cleanses the emotional buildup of sorrow and shock, leading the way to the very personal understanding of how fragile and temporary life is for us.

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines “grief” as a, deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement. It originates from the Latin word “grevis” or “gravis” meaning "heavy".

So, grief could be described as a heavy, devastating injustice or trauma to our souls.

Grief doesn’t come and go in an organized, specific passing of time. Just when I think the pangs of anguish have gasped their last breath, another wave sweeps in and I am forced to revisit the memories, the pain, the absolute.

Sometimes I do everything I possibly can to resist the demands of grieving. I want to avoid this fierce, yet reverent journey. I fight against the waves of anguish, terrified of being overwhelmed, of being discovered, of becoming lost in my brokenness. (Yes... this is pretty transparent writing folks!)

When a traumatic loss happens we can feel disconnected from everything around us. Our thoughts scatter like the wind, with very little to hold them down. Our "emotional skin" feels intensely fragile to the touch.

Our culture tells us to move past this grieving process quickly. “Hurry up!! Life and death happen! Take a few days, weeks perhaps, to grieve, but for goodness sake, don’t stay there too long!”

Grieving can make those around us extremely uncomfortable. Friends sometimes don’t know what to do with our pain. Loved ones struggle to find the right words to comfort our aching wounds.

Yet grief, as painful a season as it is, is a necessary part of our healing. To run from grief is to run from the very thing that can calm the pain of our aching soul. Grieving is the process God uses to bring us to a place of wholeness. Grieving is His great gift to us. It is a necessary part of our journey. Healing.

The hymn "It Is Well With My Soul" is one I've been deeply strengthened by many times in my life when loss or sorrow threatened to take me under. I've been humming it the past week as I grieve for and with my dear friend. I want to fix this...change it!... go back in time and reverse the way this trauma played out!
I can't.
Oh Lord.... help.

As I finish my cathartic writing here, I'll share where the hymn I mentioned was "birthed" from.
Take time to read this information and then the words of the hymn will mean so much more to you. They sure do speak to me right now.

The hymn was written after several consecutive traumatic events in Horatio Spafford's life.
The first was the death of his son at the age of 2 and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer and had invested significantly in property in the area of Chicago that was extensively damaged by the great fire).
His business interests were further hit by the economic downturn of 1873, at which time he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre. In a late change of plan, he sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire.
While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sea vessel, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone …". Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.

"It Is Well With My Soul"©

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot,
thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.


Friday, January 26, 2018

Tips for Talking to Kids After a Traumatic Event

Friday, January 26, 2018 @ 2:32 PM

God’s word is full of sorrow, suffering and —hope. God is always in control even when we may not understand what has happened or why. God cares and he promises he will turn our suffering into glory.That said: Parents absolutely must take care of themselves so they are able to give their kids what they need. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Children (and parents) keep in mind that it may take a long time to mentally and emotionally to recover from the trauma (s) your community has experienced, and everyone needs to be able to express and cope with their stress in different, non-destructive ways.

A Guide for Parents

  • Provide Kids and young adults with opportunities to talk about what they are seeing on television and to ask questions.
  • Do not be afraid to admit that you cannot answer all of their questions.
  • Answer questions at a level your child can understand.
  • Provide ongoing opportunities for your kids to talk. They probably will have more questions as time goes on.
  • Use this as an opportunity to establish a family emergency plan. Feeling that there is something you can do may be very comforting to both Kids and adults.
  • Allow your kids to discuss other fears and concerns about unrelated issues. This is a good opportunity to explore these issues also.
  • Monitor your kids's television watching. Some parents may wish to limit their child's exposure to graphic or troubling scenes. To the extent possible, be present when your child is watching news coverage of the event. It is at these times that questions might arise.
  • Help Kids understand that there are no bad emotions and that a wide range of reactions is normal. Encourage Kids to express their feelings to adults (including teachers and parents) who can help them understand their sometimes strong and troubling emotions.
  • Be careful not to scapegoat or generalize about any particular cultural or ethnic group. Try not to focus on blame.
  • In addition to the tragic things they see, help kids identify good things, such as heroic actions, families who unite and share support, and the assistance offered by people throughout the community.
  • Pray for your kids, and your community together. 

Additional resource: Talking to Children about Disasters https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/emotional-wellness/Pages/Talking-to-Children-about-Disasters.aspx

Monday, January 08, 2018

The Painful Sting Of Harsh Words

Monday, January 08, 2018 @ 4:01 AM

I have been thinking a lot this week about arrogance and those “finger pointing” individuals who enjoy belittling others and just love to be plain old “snarky”. There is a such a harsh “sting to the heart” when the cruel words of someone else intentionally does a “verbal slap down” or shames you. Usually it occurs when THEY believe that THEY are absolutely right or have "superior" knowledge, and that others are the "lesser" and are the wrong- big-"dummies".

This mean and sour arrogance which uses power to belittle or harm others is something that crushes and cripples hearts and dreams.

As a believer, our faith should not be arrogant —nor should a person of faith belittle others! We should never use our faith to pretend that we are superior or more informed than others! NO! NEVER! Belittling is a form of bullying! It’s when someone makes you feel as though you are little, minuscule, not good enough.

Arrogance is the opposite of humility, and humility is supposed to be a Christian virtue. Jesus Christ who, in coming into the world and living and dying alongside of us, lived out what humility is.

You will never reach the place of honor or full use by the Heavenly Father, (and can actually be disqualified from many opportunities) until your insecurities and need to needle, belittle, compete with, or shame others is addressed, repented of
- and buried!

Those who have the sickness of pride in their hearts speak of others’ sins with contempt, irritation, frustration, or judgment. Pride is crouching inside of our meanness and belittling of the struggles of others. It’s cowering in our jokes about the ‘craziness’ of our spouse, the mocking of that ‘too sensitive friend’. It may even be lurking in the prayers we throw upward for our friends that are — subtly or not — tinted with the color of exasperated irritation.

Sometimes, we use sarcasm to voice harsh words we otherwise would not say, often intentionally hurting others. Once the pain is inflicted, however, we retreat, saying, "Oh, I was just kidding." But the sting of our words hurts so much that those we have injured withdraw. Our words don't feel like jokes at all.
Jesus' words should be a warning to those of us who are tempted to use sarcasm as a weapon: "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken" (Matthew 12:36).

Sarcastic remarks usually seem like “no big deal” to the person who makes them. But to the recipient, those words make lasting impressions that scar to the very core of the heart.
Many times, sarcasm shames a person, causing them to feel belittled and unworthy. When shame takes root in the heart, it can cause disastrous behavior, because the person now feels worthless and seeks desperately to find anything that will make them feel otherwise. Shaming others is a serious offense with serious consequences. Jesus said, "By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:37).

Are your words kind and constructive? Do they desire to seek peace and unity, or are they driven by your fleshy desire to sting, aggravate, retaliate, tease, belittle, control, alienate, shame, and manipulate through sarcasm? YEAH... alllll of those HURT PEOPLE!

The enemy is camping out at the gate of your every relationship. Children, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, parents,co-laborers and more. He is lurking around every corner, seeking to find that one open crevice where he can enter. If he has been entering in and camping out in your home or relationships through the use of sarcasm, it is time to boot this verbal enemy out and lock the gate behind him.

Die to your need to be snarky and always the one with a chirpy sarcastic comeback! Allow Christ to show you His ways that love, peace, and compassion can be the source of every word that proceeds from your mouth.

"All of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, because, 'God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourself then! Bow low under God’s mighty hand, that he may use you to the fullest at the proper time.
1 Peter 5:56