Chill Out

Getting back to your previous routine may not be possible. Your life has been
altered and will never be exactly the same as it was before. You may need to
modify your routine by deleting and/or adding some things or better yet, establishing a new routine altogether. See this as an opportunity to expand and develop rather than an imposition.

Challenge yourself and encourage family members to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise or spend time outdoors and get plenty of sleep. Make time to do things you enjoy as a family. Children especially need to be encouraged to try new foods and activities and the best way to help them is to model the behavior yourself. Start with small changes and add bigger and more challenging ones as they adjust. Be flexible, if something isn’t working let it go and try something else. Make it fun and interesting.

If insomnia is an ongoing issue, you may be able to find relief through relaxation techniques such as: prayer, deep breathing, stretching, walking, exercising, etc. Avoid alcohol and drugs. They tend to have a numbing effect and can detract from and delay the healing process. Overuse of prescribed medication can also cause physical and/or emotional dependency and create problems rather than provide solutions.

Plan of Action

After a catastrophic event, our lives are turned upside down due to the enormous disruption and confusion. Taking control by putting together a plan of action has a healing effect and helps us regain a feeling of normalcy. It gives us a sense of purpose and provides us with a goal to work toward.

First on the list should be the items we need to attend to right away. Items requiring our immediate attention may include: funeral or memorial service arrangements, finding a place to move into temporarily, contacting lawyers or insurances, reviewing our financial situation and discussing loan payments options with the bank. Meeting together as a family and writing the plan down will provide something tangible to refer to and serve as a reminder of your commitment. Be sure to allow space for any necessary adjustments that need to be made.

The outline I use is simple and easy to follow. First, I list the problem(s) on the left side of a blank piece of paper, followed by the hoped for solution in the second column and lastly I write the actions I need to take to achieve the solution in the third column.

A word of caution, avoid making major life decisions during or immediately after a crisis. Switching career or jobs, making big purchases, ending or starting an intimate relationship and other life altering decisions are highly stressful in themselves and even harder to deal with when recovering from a disaster.

His Journey’s Just Begun

Don’t think of him as gone away-
his journey’s just begun,
life holds so many facets-
this earth is only one. . .

Just think of him as resting
from the sorrows and the tears
in a place of warmth and comfort
where there are no days and years.

Think how he must be wishing
that we could know today
how nothing but our sadness
can really pass away.

And think of him as living
in the hearts of those he touched. . .
for nothing loved is ever lost-
and he was loved so much.

-Ellen Brenneman

Hard-Pressed, But Not crushed

Scripture that strengthens and reminds me that God is in control and with us during our most difficult circumstances is found in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9.

‘We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…”

Emotions can escalate quickly. Anger can turn into rage, sadness into depression, fear into paranoia and hopelessness into thoughts of suicide, especially if we feel alone and unsupported.

In some cases, a situation that takes place in the present, such as a careless comment or perhaps a thoughtless reply made by someone we barely know, can become a trigger and causes us to overreact. Reactions that are out of proportion with the current situation usually stem from issues that haven’t been dealt with and are still unresolved.

If that’s happening to you with increasing regularity, you might consider sharing your concerns with your pastor or a therapist that’s trained to help with recovery from natural disasters. Working through the tragedy with a professional you trust can help put the situation into perspective and provide a more balanced view of the current situation. Therapy doesn’t necessarily have to be long and drawn out, oftentimes as few as six sessions followed by a support group can make a huge difference.

Above excerpt taken from my book, “Life Resumed: After a Catastrophic Event or Other Loss”

The People’s Prayer

by Anonymous

God bless our dear United States,
Preserve the land from evil fates,
Lift high her banner fair and free,
And guard her bounds from sea to sea.

From foe without and foe within,
From open shame and hidden sin,
From boastful pride and greedy store.
God keep our nation evermore.

Forever may her friendly hands
Receive the poor of other lands
In kindliness of sisterhood,
And fill their arms with ample good.

Assailed by battle hosts of wrong,
God help our country to be strong.
Assailed by falsehood’s crafty crew,
God help our country to be true.

God hold the nation’s aim sincere,
God save her heart from coward fear,
God prosper her in true success,
And crown her head with worthiness.

God bless our dear United States,
Preserve the land from evil fates,
Lift high her banner fair and tree,
And ever guard her liberty.

Reach Out

Although a certain amount of personal space is healthy, purposely isolating our selves and blaming others for the tragedy is damaging to everyone involved. It will also compound the situation by adding more conflict and worst of all, will keep us locked in rather than moving forward. As human beings we’re blessed with an enormous amount of resourcefulness and adaptability, but we were never meant to carry the entire load alone.

Sharing with others can help us regain perspective and their input may expose us to new and different solutions that we may not have considered otherwise. Another benefit to being open and vulnerable is what I call the cleansing effect. If done properly, it allows us to set our pride aside, get real with people and in so doing, live our lives with greater integrity and genuineness. As you move toward healing make a determined effort to reach out to someone
you trust (family, friends, coworkers, sibling, pastor, etc.) and let them know how you’re feeling. This can be done over the phone, online or in person. Connecting and sharing with someone we trust reminds us that we’re not alone and increases our faith and assurance that we will triumph over adversity.

Why Humility?

Humbling ourselves and realizing that we can’t do it alone, is probably the single most healing action that we can take. As humans we’ve been blessed with an array of abilities that enable us to make decisions, adjust our course and even fight to save our lives and/or the lives of others. Pride; however, is a negative state of mind that keeps us from asking and receiving the help we need at a time when we need it most. And even worse, pride puts us in a place of superiority toward God and destroys any possibility of an intimate relationship with Him

Years of struggle have taught me many lessons. The most important one is the extent of God’s patience and love as He waits for me to “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm: 46:10 NKJV). After years of relying on my own strength to bring order out of chaos and peace out of turmoil, without much success, I’ve learned to release my pride and receive his grace.

The second lesson I learned is to seek Him first, while I’m still in the midst of my anguish, rather than seeking advice from others and eventually coming around to Him. God is trustworthy. He will never disclose our deepest secrets. He gives us strength when we’re drained, brings clarity to our confusion and points us in the right direction.

In recent years, I’ve noticed a tendency for my prayers to increase as my stress levels mount. My prayers may be less than a minute or much longer in length, they may take place while I’m driving or working or upon waking up from a bad dream. And, depending upon the situation, my prayers might start out somewhat scattered and desperate but as I continue praying my mind becomes calmer and more focused until I’m able to view the situation from a different perspective.

Recovery Starts With Commitment

Recovery from any type of loss is a process that takes time and requires commitment. While others may support and encourage us, the work is primarily our own. Taking action begins by acknowledging our feelings and vulnerability and seeking God’s strength for the task ahead. This is followed by a conscious decision to move forward and to continue forging ahead regardless of the set-backs and obstacles we may encounter.

I have found that writing my commitment down (it can be in the form of a prayer) gives it greater validity and allows me to review it on a daily basis. I leave enough space at the bottom of the paper and add scripture verses or progress notes from time-to-time to help me stay focused and motivated. See sample below.

“I, _______________, (your name) am eager to reclaim my life and live it more abundantly. I realize that healing requires time, energy and commitment. Therefore, I commit to working faithfully and prayerfully on a daily basis. I will be as open and honest as I can be so that my healing can begin and progress with out hindrance. I will overcome any obstacles that would prevent me from working and progressing on my journey toward healing. I will celebrate each accomplishment that I make and will remain open to and receive the restoration that God has for me.”

A New Normal

Adjusting to a new way of life may not be what we want. However, attempting to live our lives in the past, would essentially mean living in denial. This would give rise to an entire cluster of new issues causing us to spiral downward into a sea of negative emotions and self-defeating behaviors.

Most of us are capable of making adjustments without too much effort, and some of us have gotten quite good at it due to the series of tragedies that have impacted our lives. However, dealing with the aftermath of a pandemic is something none of us have experienced previously. As a result, we’re facing a new experience and a new way of life which may include:

 

 

  • Working less hours
  • Finding a new job
  • Loss of income
  • Health concerns for ourselves and others
  • Delayed or cancelled events or celebrations
  • Readjusting to socialization

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Our personal reaction to tragedy can range from extensive to mild, immediate to delayed, long-term to short-lived. Some days will be filled with forward movement, other days less so. There will even be days when we’re ready to quit because we seem to be moving backward. However, depending on various factors, including our perspective and our trust in God, the outcome may have surprising and positive results. In my case, it opened up a new ministry and a new career path–helping others heal from catastrophic loss.

Staying Sane During Shutdown

During a global crisis it’s important to avoid spending every moment in crisis mode. Altering our activity and attitude can have positive benefits and keep us grounded. Consider trying one or all of the following suggestions:

  • Set a new routine and adhere to it as much as possible
  • Limit time spent watching the news and using social media
  • Exercise indoors or take a walk around the block
  • Include healthy foods in your diet
  • Follow a bed-time routine
  • Avoid or limit alcohol consumption
  • Focus on self-improvement
  • Make time to pray/meditate
  • Stay in touch – online, phone, email, etc.

 

His Presence and Protection

dove

I certainly experienced Jesus protection yesterday. I was shopping at Office Depot in Redlands, CA when a hostage/shooting situation took place. We all ran out and in the process I tripped and lost my sandal but kept going. We took refuge in the store next door which happened to be Trader Joe’s until the situation was “contained.” The interesting thing is, seconds before the gun was fired, I considered going to the back section of Office Depot to look at some items there but felt lead to leave and go instead to a different store. I paused to text my daughter about 20 feet from the front door (still inside the store) when the gun shot{s} were fired from the back area and people began running past me saying “a man has a gun and is shooting!”

By God’s design……the scripture verse that I read and meditated upon before leaving home that morning was; “The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace. (Psalm 29:11). I felt both “empowered and at peace” (although a bit shaky) during and following the crisis….so much so that I would have kept my appointment that afternoon to tutor a high school student if I wasn’t barefooted! God is good.

Visit my website: http://www.grief-recovery.org to download FREE articles on healing from loss

 

Why Jesus Came

bible-cross

Every moment of Jesus’ life on earth was lived to teach us about the Father……the Father’s love, the Father’s mercy and the Father’s plan of salvation. Every word He spoke, every action He took, pointed to God. By offering His life and suffering the agony that we never will, He spoke most eloquently and united us in a divine and eternal relationship with the Father, Himself and the Holy Spirit.

Easter Joy

Jesus came to earth,
To show us how to live,
How to put others first,
How to love and how to give.

Then He set about His work,
That God sent Him to do;
He took our punishment on Himself;
He made us clean and new.

He could have saved Himself,
Calling angels from above,
But He chose to pay our price for sin;
He paid it out of love.

Our Lord died on Good Friday,
But the cross did not destroy
His resurrection on Easter morn
That fills our hearts with joy.

Now we know our earthly death,
Like His, is just a rest.
We’ll be forever with Him
In heaven, where life is best.

So we live our lives for Jesus,
Think of Him in all we do.
Thank you Savior; Thank you Lord.
Help us love like you!

poem by Joanna Fuchs

Visit my website: http://www.grief-recovery.org to download FREE articles on healing from loss.

A Prayer for Grace and Guidance

prayerful_person

     Father, touch the hearts that are deeply injured and struggling heal them with Your precious love. Mend the brokenness and the pain that lies so deep it can not be reached except by You. Perform a miracle of restoration and renewal during the coming Easter season as you did when you walked among us and made lives whole, not only for the moment but for eternity. Renew in us the hope that is so easily lost and help us to cherish and claim the promise You made in Isaiah 61:1, The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound.

      Lord, you called us to be Your ministers and carry on the work that You begun. Help us to respond to the call and NOT stand down due to fear, doubt or distractions. As you spoke to Joshua admonishing him to “be strong and courageous” and assured him that You would be with him wherever he went, in the same manner You call us to be Your tenacious warriors. May we persist when we would rather quit, may we tend to the needs of others when we would rather look to our own needs.

     May we heed the call and make a difference in the life of one person today and every day for the rest of our lives. Fill us with grace and mercy and show us the way. Amen.

 

Visit my website: http://www.grief-recovery.org to download FREE articles on healing from loss.