Archive for Grief

Hospice & 3 Guys: Guy During Grief

Guy grieving

Three guys.

They didn’t know each other, and they only knew me in the briefest and most problematic of days.

One Was Dying. Another was Near Death. The third was During Grief.

I think of them now, years—and decades—later, equally grateful and humbled for what I learned while spending time with them. As always, I will try to change a little or a lot of their story to disguise each guy’s true identity.

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The Guy During Grief . . .

He spoke in every one of the dozen grief support group sessions. I think it was only in the first gathering, where I shared the mandatory material about confidentiality and participant guidelines, that he did not mention a phrase that served as his personal mantra:

Nobody understands me.

And it wasn’t just once during the following eleven sessions that I heard Nobody understands me, but multiple times on a weekly basis whenever we had an open-ended sharing time or when he was responding to a specific question or concern. It could start a sentence or conclude one. Read More →

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Dog Rules for Grieving

Dog rules

I was on the phone with someone whose loved one died a few days ago. This person hurts physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But grieving, nowadays, has become worse. With its shelter-in-place and social-distancing demands, the Covid-19 pandemic widens and deepens grief.

And then my dog arrived.

How odd to work at home and not the office!

My five-year-old golden retriever shoved her head into my available hands after the conversation started. Can’t those hands (“free” because of iPhone ear buds) get busy? 99.5% of my concentration remained with the person whose loved one has died. But maybe 00.5% was devoted to the “pet me” demands of my furry friend! Elsewhere in the house, my wife Zooms with colleagues. One of our cats is lounging on a table, and the other feisty feline is probably outside keeping us safe from rambunctious squirrels.

We talked. I listened. I offered encouragement. I reminded the grieving “client” about my hospice’s resources. Currently, we are not doing in-person counseling sessions but our grief counselors will reach out by phone or online or both. Soon, we will start grief support groups for the summer, though they might have to rely on the now ubiquitous Zoom platform.

And I kept petting Kynzi. Read More →

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What Can You Control?

on control

Then a young pastor, I recall leaving one of my first graveside services. (Though it felt more like escaping.) Outwardly, I may have appeared calm and serious. Inwardly, I berated myself for forgetting parts of the Lord’s Prayer.

Yeah, I said forgetting!

I didn’t know the son and daughter of the dearly departed. They’d called my church, searching for a minister in their “hour of need.” Now, with the simple service finished, the two siblings walked behind me. Without glancing back, I easily overheard their not-whispered conversation. I fretted they might be exchanging snide criticisms about the stupid pastor who messed up Christianity’s most famous prayer.

Not at all!

They were arguing about their mother’s will and her possessions.

I had fumbled the Lord’s Prayer’s final sentences. How embarrassing! At the open grave of a stranger, with a handful of her family that I’d only met in one meeting prior to the service, I’d shut my Book of Worship and invited the mourners to pray with me. It was just the Lord’s Prayer. They were words I’d memorized as a kid in Sunday school way back when. But I was nervous. Faking a few final muttered words, I hurried to the “Amen.” Read More →

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