Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, November 17, 2019 

Shavuah Tov *|FNAME|*,

Thank you, Dr. Raymond Finney for yet another excellent RR submission.

Coping with Grief (Part 2) by Raymond Finney

Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:18)

INTRODUCTION: In the November 3rd RR, I wrote about grief following the death of my son. In the November 10th RR, I wrote (Part 1) about stages of grief and Bible verses to aid in coping with grief. Today, I write (Part 2) about coping with grief through personal actions and seeking help from others. Sooner or later, you or someone close to you will need grief-coping skills.

SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR COPING WITH GRIEF: A grieving person may find some of the following suggestions helpful (modified by me from suggestions of the American Psychological Association):

** Talk about the death of your loved one. Stoically bottling up emotions may not help you or others. Talk about the dead loved one, but talk when it feels right for you, not at another person’s insistence when you do not feel like it. Laugh about the humor in his/her life. Talk about his/her strengths. If you miss him/her, say so in love and without becoming despondent. If your loved one is a Believer, have faith he/she is in Paradise, visiting with Yeshua and the saints. If so, he/she is doing much better than you are. He/she should be the one who feels sorry for you. You may find it helpful to write a letter to your dead loved one. You may be able to say things in a private letter that you prefer not to share with others. If you wish, tear up and discard your letter, after it has served its purpose. Finally, do not be ashamed of Yeshua in this time of grief. Your faith in eternal life might be the catalyst necessary to save the soul of someone else.

** Accept your feelings. Different people experience different emotions in grief. Exhaustion, sadness, frustration, and anger are some emotions you may feel. In time, these emotions should heal.

** Do not neglect caring for yourself or your family. Continue nutritious meals, appropriate exercise, and rest (sleeping). The bereavement period is meant for you and your family. Take care of yourself; take care of your family. Having lived my entire life in the South, I often wondered about the Southern practice of preparing and eating a large family meal supplied by friends before a funeral. This practice is a type of a Southern wake. The food, although delicious, is not the value of this custom. The flurry of activity in food preparation and the coming together for a family meal are the important reasons for the meal. In one sense, this family meal is not unlike the Passover Seder (“Last Supper”) Yeshua ate with His disciples before His crucifixion.

** Reach out to help others in grief. An adult may be deeply hurt by loss of a spouse, but a child may hurt even more by loss of a parent. Ministering to others in pain may ease your pain. Sharing stories of the humor, wisdom, and good life of the deceased person may bolster everyone’s spirits. The human brain is “wired” to keep relationships alive and well, not to lose relationships. Retraining the brain to accept death is often called “closure.” We all need closure after the death of a loved one. You, your friends, and your relatives may work together to establish closure after death.

** Celebrate the life of your dead loved one. A funeral (or memorial) service is not meant to benefit a deceased person. Rather, such service is meant to benefit the living. After the service, continue to honor the memory of your deceased loved one, rather than never mentioning him/her again. Linda and I, accompanied by our remaining family, planted a Japanese maple in our front yard to commemorate our son’s death. Every time I leave home through our front door, I see this tree, remember Ray, and am thankful God gave him to us. Incidentally, planting a tree in Israel to commemorate the life of a deceased person is a time-honored practice.  

Rabbi’s note:  Here is the link to do so… https://www.shiva.com/trees-for-israel/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAk7TuBRDQARIsAMRrfUZ_zLKh7aR4cAj2ag41AxCIW0ZJcEMv9FUSKCO8HAWhe4H__qOtcTgaAp_pEALw_wcB

** I also mention that there are support groups sponsored by local churches that you may find helpful.

OTHER RESOURCES FOR GRIEF: Fortunately, most grief passes in time. Some persons may need counseling, though. Never be reluctant or ashamed to seek help, if you need it. A sample of resources to help persons cope with and overcome grief include:

** Rabbi Michael Weiner of Shomair Yisrael Synagogue, Knoxville: telephone (865) 414.4527.

** Numerous grief counseling centers and grief counselors are available to help you, if you experience severe or unresolved grief. You may look in your telephone directory’s yellow pages or Internet search engine (search “grief counselor in [city, state]”). Since we are not personally familiar with many of these resources, we are reluctant to recommend one for you in this RR. You can find a counselor who purports to be a Christian at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/christian || or, https://findchristiancounselor.com/?msclkid=d8105f61b52718f6783502a46d235554 .

** Some persons experiencing extreme grief may contemplate suicide. There is help as close as your telephone for thoughts of suicide or other crises. These numbers are aggregated by the Tennessee Suicide & Crisis Hotlines at http://www.suicidehotlines.com/tennessee.html

… National Suicide Hotline: 1.800.SUICIDE (1.800.784.2433) || or, text: 741741

… National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.TALK (1.800.273.8255)

……In Spanish (Ayuda En Espanol): 1.888.628.9454 || or, https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/en-espanol/

……For deaf or hard of hearing: 1.800.799.3889 (or, https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/for-deaf-hard-of-hearing/ )

….. For veterans: 1.800.273.8255; then, press 1 || or, text: 838255 (or, https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/)

… Statewide (Tennessee) Crisis Hotline: 1.855.CRISIS.1 or 1.855.274.7471

There are other numbers for persons in special groups (suicidal thoughts in teens, veterans, LGBTQ+, postpartum women, college students, Native Americans, and so forth). See the Website at http://www.suicidehotlines.com/tennessee.html  for more details .

A Tennessee suicide prevention site offers good advice for anyone contemplating suicide: “Please remember!! You can always kill yourself – later!! Just don’t do it now. Put it off – for another hour, another day.”

To the State’s advice, I would add: Get help now. As former medical examiner and forensic pathologist for Blount and several other eastern Tennessee counties, I know from experience that suicide will ease the pain of the person committing suicide, of course, but it only begins protracted pain for survivors. Some of my saddest experiences have been talking to family members who have just lost a loved one to suicide. Death from cancer can be accepted, but death from suicide, well…. The family labors over: “What could we, the family, have done to prevent this suicide?” As long as life is preserved, there is hope. Think not only of yourself, but think of your family. If you are contemplating suicide, you can be helped. A future awaits you that can be far brighter than you can now imagine. Yeshua is standing by now to help you carry any of your burdens.

** Grief following an abortion (post-abortion syndrome) is a much under-estimated cause of grief. Loss of pregnancy– whether natural (miscarriage) or elective (abortion) – is a significant loss with deep grief. Young women may have a secret abortion. Do abortion clinics care about them, after receiving their fees– in cash– for the abortions? These hurting, grieving, frightened women often have no one with whom to discuss their grief (their mother and sisters may not even know about the abortion). Many cities have a crisis pregnancy center (pregnancy resource center) staffed by women who are Believers and many of whom have had abortions themselves. Having served as a director of the Blount Pregnancy Resource Center, I can vouch for these Godly women. These women will pray with and counsel any person, woman or man, who grieves her/ his participation in abortion. Find a center near you in your telephone directory’s yellow pages or through OptionLine at https://optionline.org/center-locator/  . Ladies, you might see if your local crisis pregnancy center needs volunteer helpers. (Becoming a volunteer at one of these centers is suitable only for women, not men.) Also, women who have delivered a baby, even a completely healthy baby, may become severely depressed (postpartum depression). Contact your obstetrician immediately for help. Your obstetrician has encountered postpartum depression many times in his/her practice, and he/she can likely help you through this rough time.

** An unhappy home can be cause for grief. The loss, here, is loss of a happy home, marriage, and family. No man, woman, or child should live in the hell of domestic abuse.

>> Wife, mother (most commonly the victim of domestic abuse): If abuse harms the peaceful tranquility of your home– the shalom intended by God– and causes grief in your life, you may consider calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (1.800.799.7233). 

Also, local agencies are in place to provide shelter (safe houses) for women and children who may be endangered by abusive men. Your county’s district attorney general can provide you with legal and practical advice, obtain restraining orders for your protection, refer you to a safe house, and so forth, but alcohol, drugs, and evil intent can override a restraining order. Much abuse is caused by alcohol and drugs, which is the “sorcery” Yeshua warned us about in the Revelation. [Poorly translated in our English- language Bibles, “sorcery” = pharmakeia in the original Greek text = drug abuse, not witchcraft.]

Rabbi’s note:  I’m not sure how well known it is that any woman can get on any city bus and tell the driver she is fleeing domestic abuse.  The driver s are trained to call for help.

>> Spouse: If you are the cause (source) of abuse in you home, fall to your knees, beg God to forgive you, and change you into a decent, God-fearing family person.  Most likely, you cannot change by yourself.  Seek with guidance of the Ruach HaKodesh and seek help. Restore shalom and love in your family. Do you want your children to remember you as an abusive, drunken/ addicted, wife-beating, child-harming person no one likes or loves?

Rabbi’s note: The above paragraph notwithstanding, there is a cycle of abuse followed by remorse.  Professional help is needed to break the cycle.  When trust is gone from a relationship, there may be nothing upon which to build.  Professional help is necessary to slowly restore trust.

>> Older person (elder): Family members or nursing home personnel may abuse an older person– a crime known as “elder abuse.” Such abuse causes heartbreaking grief in the sunset years of life, when the older person (who is too frail to fight back) should be enjoying the fruits of a lifetime of labor and contributions to his/her community and family. Fear, neglect, and unnecessary pain should not be the heritage of an elder. Elder abuse is defined as “intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or ‘trusted’ individual that lead to, or may lead to, harm of a vulnerable elder. In many states, younger adults with disabilities may qualify for the same services and protections as elders. Physical abuse; neglect; emotional or psychological abuse; financial abuse and exploitation; sexual abuse; and abandonment are considered forms of elder abuse. In many states, self-neglect is also considered mistreatment.” The Tennessee Commission on Aging & Disability posts several resources to report and obtain relief for cases of elder abuse at https://www.tn.gov/aging/learn-about/elder-abuse.html . Some useful telephone numbers to assist in elder abuse include: Emergency assistance = 911 || Adult Protective Services (APS) = 1.888.APS.TENN or 1.888.277.8366 || Tennessee Domestic Violence Hotline = 1.800.356.6767 || Knoxville Office, Family Violence Helpline = (865) 521.6336 || Tennessee Long-Term Care Ombudsman (for institutional abuse in a nursing home or long-term care facility) = (615) 837.5112. [Explanation: You may not be familiar with the term “ombudsman.” An ombudsman is an official appointed to receive and investigate complaints made by persons or family members of abuses or illegal acts of persons in positions of authority. Most commonly, an ombudsman is appointed by a hospital or long-term care facility to serve as a “patient’s advocate” and investigate, on the patient’s behalf and benefit, complaints against physicians, nurses, and other staff members. An ombudsman is comparable to an inspector general in governmental agencies.]

FINALLY: Grief is an expected and even necessary consequence following loss. Grief can be healed, as can any other setback in life (such as an illness or injury). Counseling may be needed to address prolonged or severe grief. Satan may be involved in false accusations against any role in the death you may have had because Satan is a liar and the father of lying (John 8:44). We at Shomair Yisrael pledge to do what we can to ease your grief. Shalom and Maranatha.

Abba Father: Your children now come before Your throne. Hear us, we pray. As Your children, we may experience fears, grief, and life’s disappointments. When we do, we need the strong, comforting arms of our Abba. Thank You for life. Thank You for the lives of our families and friends. We acknowledge how precious life is, when we mourn so deeply the death of our loved ones. We thank You for Your grace and Yeshua’s death, by which we may confidently believe that there is eternal life beyond the grave. We pray that the Ruach HaKodesh, the Comforter promised by Yeshua, will visit every mourner and give him/her rest and ease suffering. Until that Glorious Day when we enter eternity, we praise You. Amen.