Bereaved But Still Me

Grieving During the Holidays: Tips for Survivors

June 25, 2019 Pastor James Driskell Season 1 Episode 13
Bereaved But Still Me
Grieving During the Holidays: Tips for Survivors
Bereaved But Still Me
Grieving During the Holidays: Tips for Survivors
Jun 25, 2019 Season 1 Episode 13
Pastor James Driskell

Pastor James Driskell has a vast amount of experience in caring for those going through loss in hazardous situations. Pastor Driskell served in the U. S. Coast Guard Reserve for 29 years with over 2,000 hours of operational time on Coast Guard boats. He was involved in a variety of situations to comfort the dying, injured and survivors. As a Police Chaplain he has been called on scene to comfort victims, families of suicide, homicide and drug overdose victims. He earned a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education as a chaplain in a very large senior housing and medical center. Join us as he shares tips with Michael for dealing with grief during the holidays.

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Show Notes Transcript

Pastor James Driskell has a vast amount of experience in caring for those going through loss in hazardous situations. Pastor Driskell served in the U. S. Coast Guard Reserve for 29 years with over 2,000 hours of operational time on Coast Guard boats. He was involved in a variety of situations to comfort the dying, injured and survivors. As a Police Chaplain he has been called on scene to comfort victims, families of suicide, homicide and drug overdose victims. He earned a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education as a chaplain in a very large senior housing and medical center. Join us as he shares tips with Michael for dealing with grief during the holidays.

Support the show (

spk_1:   0:03
welcome Hart are with Michael Future in your host Michael. Even our program is designed to empower the bereaved, communicate with information and stories from those who have suffered the most terrible loss. Michael, himself a bereaved father, will be meeting with people from around the world to share and to draw hope from their experiences. And now here is Michael even. Welcome

spk_2:   0:29
to our Season One bonus episode of Heart to Heart with Michael A program for the bereaved. Our purpose is to empower bereaved members of our community. With resource is support and advocacy information. Today's show is grieving during the holidays. Tips for survivors and you were that stated, is Pastor James Driscoll bastard. Driscoll has a vast amount of experience in caring for those going through loss in hazardous situations. He has served in the U. S. Coast Guard Reserve for 29 years, with over 2000 hours of operational time on Coast Guard boats. He was involved in a variety of situations to comfort the dying, injured and survivors. As a police Chapman, he has been called on scene to comfort victims, families of suicide homicide and drug overdose victims. He earned a unit of clinical pastoral education As a chaplain in a very large senior housing and medical center, Pastor Driscoll has earned his undergraduate degree of Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and his masters of divinity from Concordia Seminary in ST Louis. He is currently the pastor of First ST John's Lutheran Church in York, Pennsylvania, where he established a grief share group to serve those who have lost loved ones. Welcome, Pastor Driscoll.

spk_0:   1:38
Shalom. How are you, Michael? I

spk_2:   1:40
said, I'm still into you serving very well, thank you. Great

spk_0:   1:44
to talk to your brother.

spk_2:   1:45
This is the holiday season, usually a time when most people celebrate and find joy. But for some of us who are bereaved, it's difficult to experience joy, especially when we see everyone around us in such a joyful mood. I understand that First ST John's, you have a programme to deal with stress during the holidays. So can you tell us a little bit about that and what you're teaching your church? Sure,

spk_0:   2:04
absolutely. And I just wantto also ah, make sure, uh, give credit to what Tammy Bosley Tammy's been the one that's Ah picked this program up and and and and really driven it and ah, she Jill a person. But the one thing that about brief share is that it really is very late. Driven S o you know, when you have, like, people picking it up and running with it it really does help a lot of people that were involved Well,

spk_2:   2:35
is that better than its people And that it doesn't come from from from you

spk_0:   2:39
in time, in a place, I guess is the best way to describe it. You know what I'm saying? Because they're gonna be times where Yeah, You want a professional, You want somebody, you can kind of give you a little more space. And there are the times when you really want kind of somebody who's more like me. You don't want to say and is somebody who you can maybe feel a little more comfortable crying on the shoulder, that kind of thing. It's more women driven because obviously, statistically, women tend outlive husbands and that kind of thing. And so when we have, you know, there's me and I'm there to help people, and, uh, we've had some other ladies can come in and out of the group. But Tammy's been the constant they're all on. And so it's It's just seems to be something that, especially older women, what spouse is, um, can relate a lot better to what women doesn't mean that guys were excluded or you know, any of that sort of thing. But it's just been our particular experience to kind of go back to your original question in terms of why in particular during the holidays, grief shares important all all the time. And being a part of group is being a very important, a lot of time. We do a couple other different kinds of groups there, and and the one constant that you see with a lot of these support groups as it is and certainly can imagine it in terms of substance abuse, that kind of thing, what people do when they kind of get really absorbed in something the pullback raid. They kind of isolate themselves. They take themselves away. Certainly. Ah, kind of the genius in terms of groups like a N N a is no, gotta be a part of this group. You gotta be accountable. You have to be here. You have the, you know, be upfront, Frank. Well, grieving groups. That's not the necessary. That's not the need. When I'm trying to get you into a group of tell everybody why, I agree. But it is in terms that you gotta be with other people. You have to be there because we doing on unemployment group and, uh, again sort of the same kind of. Obviously, when your people lose jobs, that's a form of grieving. And, um, a lot of times what happens to people that kind of get into their head? I'm the only one. I'm here. I've gotta deal with it all by myself. I've got to confront that. I've gotto that kind of thing. And holidays are unique, and in the grieving process, it's it's it's a It's a difficult I every time I do a funeral, Um, I always told people involved, but things emotions, they're going to crop up, things are gonna happen. People is stuff is gonna all of a sudden pop up in your brain, and it's especially true in terms of the holidays because you get folks who've been married 40 50 years within the constant for 40 or 50 years. Well, you know, you get to December 25 great. Get all your You know, you expect to see, uh, your husband there or your brother Or one thing that does seem to happen in terms of holidays, it's kind of more extreme, but a lot of times people just will. You know someone. So it's not gonna be there to open President's if they're not gonna be there for dinner. I don't know. Maybe we shouldn't baby. And at some point you do seem families groups kind of, you know, kind of just fading away because, yeah, there's a lot of people I just don't want to dio I just don't want. And that's really the worst possible outcome, obviously, right? Well, we

spk_2:   6:45
talked about that a lot during this last year, and we talked about sharing grief, and we said that grief shared is grief. Lessen the grief light. And and I think that's absolutely true. And I think also that the holidays have a wave amplifying it. It's not necessarily the holiday because, you know, it could be a holiday that you used to seeing the family with. Could be Thanksgiving could be Christmas or any holiday, but even just a personal holiday like a birthday Yep. Think all along for the year. Absolutely sure. Now, assuming also from the way you're describing, you tend to deal more with adults. Many of our listeners are bereaved parents, but I don't really think that there's a great difference here. I think that that the grief will strike you when it strikes you. You know? Yeah. In similar ways.

spk_0:   7:30
Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Yeah. But it's like you said, the holidays tend to amplify that because your other times of the years Yeah, they're Constance. But there's not really that constant thread. Where is Christmas? What do you do on Christmas? You get up Christmas morning. Everybody gathers around the tree. Everybody gives out presents. Everybody sits at the words and shares, and everybody has dinner together. So I you know that is that one time of the year where you're gonna you're gonna relive that every year and after so many decades, you kind of have it scripted in your head.

spk_2:   8:12
So in about a minute, where some of the things that go on in that group But what you tell people, how do we just laid out a myriad of things that could go wrong? Give you something that will have

spk_0:   8:22
one minute. Sure. Okay, So I think the big thing that you always want to make sure people are aware of his Yeah, emotions are gonna pop up, and you really have to kind of allow that trying to suppress the emotions and that kind of circumstances is only going toe aggravate the problem. It's not gonna solve the problem. And that doesn't mean it. It's only it's gonna agree to the problem of having a big emotional, uh, Oberst versus E. You know? Hey, it really missed my husband. I really miss my son. I really missed this person, that person. And, uh so that's really kind of the biggest thing that I do is a pastor normally dealing with people who are dealing with death and and certainly in the group that those are gonna be the big aspect.

spk_2:   9:10
Okay, we're gonna have to sneak in a break. But when we come back, we're going to be talking with Pastor Driscoll about how friends can help. They're buried friends during the holidays.

spk_4:   9:19
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spk_1:   9:49
You are listening to heart to heart with Michael. If you have a question or comment that you would like a dressed on our program, please send an email to Michael, even at Michael at heart to heart with michael dot com Now back to heart to heart with Michael. Welcome

spk_2:   10:06
back, Pastor Driscoll. Before the break, we were discussing your church program, helping bereaved members of your community survive the holidays. Last year on Christmas, there were a lot of terrorist activities specifically in Europe. In general, it's difficult to be joyful under an atmosphere of terror. Even in America. Since 9 11 it's been more difficult for people to be joyful. How do you address the feeling people may have a fear and trepidation during the holiday season instead of joy and celebration.

spk_0:   10:30
Well, I understand what you're saying, and and certainly you being in Israel have a much different perspective than Americans. And and I'm not trying to minimize the issue. Certainly being from Boston with the, uh, with the marathon bombing, Um, I had friends who were Ah, I have one friend who was at the Pentagon when, uh, when that when it was bombed. Ah, have friends who were New York City police officers and firefighters, people that worked. And so I mean, you know, believe me, I get it I But by the same token, I don't think that there's that level in the United States. Let me put it this way. I've never had to deal with that, particularly if you're talking about, like New Year's Eve in Times Square. Yeah, that would be a concern. Ah, and it certainly is. And and New Yorkers city in New York certainly responded to, uh to that, um, they they certainly had stepped up when they had the New York Marathon a month ago. Uh, especially considering that there being a terrorist attack. Ah, around Central Park, just a couple weeks before the marathon.

spk_2:   11:45
I guess the takeaway is that, uh, the United States is in a way I would get, say, blissfully lagging behind Europe and other parts of the world where it hasn't yet become an issue that that's strange enough. Idiots take technicalities. Yeah, but it doesn't take down the holidays. And

spk_0:   12:04
I don't think that it really does know because they're the holidays in the United States, you know, except for things like maybe, you know, Times Square, the Macy's Day parade, and you know, maybe those kind of things. But for the most part, it's that bad. The holidays, they're much more family oriented. And so it's gonna be large family gathering, certainly, but not gatherings. The whole point of terror is to do something in a large scale to make people disrupt what they're doing. And, ah, you know, in in that respect, it's not really there's not gonna be an opportunity to do that. And then, you know, it's It's certainly an issue with Americans of just being more aware, not living in fear, because that's kind of caving in and losing the battle. But ah, it is, you know, it is an issue because even it doesn't have to be terror related. It's to be aware of something that's going on around you that that needs to be addressed. So just the healthy thing is this is a good lifestyle. Is the be aware and, ah, exercise discretion? No,

spk_2:   13:27
I think what you're saying is that you're you are very, very lucky and in a very real sense, blessed to be where you are and not, you know, they say, soaking.

spk_0:   13:37
Don't count on that being a forever thing either you No,

spk_2:   13:40
no, don't no, don't. But to end a little bit 1/2 year note as this is a holiday special, Um, I'm I understand that, um, the awareness in America is there, but the need is perhaps a little bit less. And that's a very blessed thing for the holidays and in general. So I know there's and it turns out, as it turns out, we're gonna have to sneak in another break. So thank you very much for sharing your experiences and your advice with us. And when we come back, we're gonna talk with you more about dealing with the crisis of faith during the holidays,

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spk_1:   16:10
You are listening to heart to heart with Michael. If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on Michael's program, please email him at Michael at heart to heart with michael dot com. Now back to our program Welcome

spk_2:   16:27
Back, listeners to Heart to Heart with Michael Program for the Bereaved. We're here with Pastor Driscoll, who was sharing his experience and advice with us about howto handle the holidays. One Bereaved Master Jim, We talked about dealing with joy during difficult times. Now let's talk about how you help people who are dealing with a crisis of faith during the holidays. What do you say to them and what can you do to help them?

spk_0:   16:49
Sure, well, and you know, I didn't want to point out especially, you know, in your situation with your daughter. Uh, Leo, Um, you know it. It's just so heartening to see people taking those kind of personal tragedies and and doing something so positive with them and proactive and certainly what you're doing here t on her memory in that way. And so, you know, you hope that people look to God because God's always God's going to test our faith constantly. That's just the, you know, it's not to be mean, it's not to be to torture us. The test of fate. The keyword is test right? Why do you take a math test in high school so that you can show that you've warned Maura And then it's to make you grow and to make you progress? And certainly when God tests us, you know, in her life may not seem there may not seen the right time in the right place at the right color or, you know, but on the other hand, guts infinitely more brilliant than I'll ever be in a, you know, ever and ever and ever. And he's gonna do things in my life that I mean, not like I mean that want. But on the other hand, they're necessary because it's not. He hasn't left us to be where we are in some sort of static low. And it's just not what this world is for its world of sin and death. And I think when you have Christians who are properly taught and properly understand the faith that when they come to these kind of things, yeah, the fates gonna be tested. But certainly, uh, Paula addressed the issue in terms of we don't born like the pagans and hope for. That's the way he put in his words, not mine. But it was only born like other people. We mourn because, yeah, we missed the person, you know, we wish the person were it. There's proper spot when we sent around and exchanged gifts. But they're not there. We mourn that, but we don't mourn in terms of the fact. Well, that's it. That's the end of it. It's not. It's not gonna come back. And so when people start to question their faith is Christians, we should be questioning our faith. We should be making it a constant task we should be advancing. If anybody is in Christianity thinks it's a continual party and blessing and lava land, that's just not realistic. That's not how the Saints lived. That's certainly not how Jesus lived in terms of, especially in terms of the passion, the beating and the crucifixion. Um, that's not how we're how we're supposed to tow live in this world. But we had the promise of the resurrection. We have the promise that in the Rex resurrection we are going to live in that world that God intended us to live in that he originally made until we messed it up because, well, we we had a Burger King attitude, right? With one in our way.

spk_2:   20:16
Well, would you say, then, that when your comforting somebody who's mourning their their morning, um, more for themselves that the sense of loss that they feel but that the person they're missing and it's valid to miss that person that that person is sort of taken care of in some way?

spk_0:   20:32
Yeah, absolutely. And, uh, it's, you know, no question in terms. Look, I I get it. We're gonna feel bad. We're being deprived of a relationship that, uh, you know, and especially when it's in terms of young people and people that in our opinion, they shouldn't die. No, that shouldn't happen to the person in that age or you know, that situation. But people do. And so we have to look at it in terms of we know where we're gonna be. We know how it's gonna be with that person in the next life. So, yeah, again, Paul kind of addressed it in terms of OK, we're gonna agree, because we miss that person. And we certainly are sad that that person had to go go through what they had to go through, Um, when you know, when death occurred. But by the same token, his questions were not called to dwell on that We're not called to let that stop us. We're not called to, uh, lose our faith. And in that respect, we are called to trust God what he's going to do when and as I said before, taken in ways that are going to honor that person and certainly what you've done here in terms of of this program of saying, look, everybody, and this is certainly one of the major points of grief share it's gonna happen, is not There's no way around it. And I

spk_2:   22:10
and yet it's always unexpected when it does happen. I mean, Oh,

spk_0:   22:13
yeah, sometime. Most the time. It is unexpected. It really is. Um, you know, certainly there are people that have the benefit of I know this person's dying. I know that. That the end is is gonna be very soon. And so yeah,

spk_2:   22:30
I hope. I mean, you know what? My final was sick for a very long time, and he knew it was, but we didn't know Tomorrow, the next day or even a year from now, he was deep into his Alzheimer's, but largely and physically good condition. And so when one morning we got the call at four o'clock in the morning that he was gone, it was a shock. Um, even though it wasn't totally unexpected and completely out of the blue, it was a shock. And we've talked about this Another circumstances. I remember recently my friend's mother passed away and she was struck that many people would ask you Well, how old was your mom? As if to say right here, live a long life. That was okay. right, But But And I've said this before, your mother is still your mother. And if she lives to be 1000 it'll still hurt

spk_0:   23:14
Stuart, that's too early, right? It's

spk_2:   23:16
too early, and it'll still hurt. And that's the sort of thing that, um when it happens to people, they look up and they say, Why may, you know, having why you and your friend looking on could say, Well, this is totally expected. What do you want about s? So how do you reconcile that? You know, What do you say to your friend who's trying to be nice but just doesn't get it that you're hurting in a way that he can't understand? How do you What do you What do you tell that person is hurting?

spk_0:   23:43
Well, I assure you, Michael, that if I had the magic wand in terms of, I would write the book. You know what I'm saying? You know it. The thing that I really emphasized with people and and and I really, honestly have remind myself you know what? They're just They're not gonna be ways and times. A lot of times that you're saying anything is really going to praying with that person is certainly going to be, um I I submit more efficacious of more positive and uplifting. Um, and but just being an ear and I one thing that I emphasize, you will lay people. What? Because, you know, obviously get the question of what is in terms of that Ministry of presence. And I'll tell you, to be honest, even in the training that I've had counseling and seminary and that kind of thing, that's what they emphasize. You're you're you're

spk_2:   24:50
not a cresting over into my lane, no pun intended. Um, because one of the things that we do in the Jewish community, of course, is when When we mourn, there's this that seven day period where I sit at home and do nothing and your friends come and comfort you. And sometimes the best way to comfort people is just to say nothing around. We've talked about what's on this

spk_0:   25:14
video. I'm here for you. We've

spk_2:   25:17
talked about on this program before. When when job was mourning, his friends were really helpful until they open their mouth.

spk_0:   25:25
Exactly. And not only that, but what happened with his friends. God given give a good spanking afterwards, we will do it, you know.

spk_2:   25:33
How dare you say that? Something you must This must be yours. This is

spk_0:   25:37
your why you presuming t do that to say the things that you're saying. You know, you that's not the It's not for you to say. That's not your call. And I

spk_2:   25:47
have on behalf of all those Mourners, I can say, Would you do that to ourselves? We already beat ourselves up 1000 ways from Sunday. You don't have to come and help with that. Yeah,

spk_0:   25:57
yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah, Just because I'm going through this ah, horrible period does not mean I've, you know, been a horrible center. That that's just not it's Plenty of people go through suffering that you look at it, you know, and you just really commit for life. You think Why? And Earth is that person having to endure this? And that's certainly gonna be one of the big mysteries of life. That and the resurrection. We're gonna look back and wonder it's gonna be obvious. At that point, we're gonna okay and wow, isn't it? Got a great God given Florida, God know that he doesn't even the times that we think they're just so inhuman and just so one. Ah, I'm, you know, unfair. And y absolutely absolute. And all of a sudden, yeah. And that perfect world and eternal resurrection. We're gonna look at it. Go. Okay, I got it. I got it.

spk_2:   27:00
But you have to know to look forward to the point that you will get it

spk_0:   27:03
one day. Exactly. You d'oh! And then, you know, I think that that's one thing that the Christian Church has really fallen down on. It is the resurrection. And, uh, I have a whole sermon on that. But suffice to say, doesn't

spk_2:   27:17
come back and do it again. They were. But I have to say Come back. But I had to say, we're we're pretty much running out of time. And so I You know what? I'm gonna end with a Woody Allen quote. There's a scene in 11 death. It's the Russian Revolution, and the battle is hard and raging and going really bad. And somebody says God is truly testing us. And Woody Allen says, Well, next time I hope it gives us an aural anyway, that concludes this bonus episode of heart to heart with Michael again I want to thank Pastor Driscoll for sharing with us and hope his advice has brought some assistance to those who are listening. Please join me next year in 2018 normal start season to Season two will be devoted to a celebration of life where we talk about how loved ones who have gone have changed our lives and have helped make us who we are. So I'd like to wish everyone a happy holiday season, no matter what holiday you're celebrating, and there are many, many, many, many, many, so remember, it is okay to

spk_1:   28:11
be joyful. Thank you again for joining us. We hope you have gained strength from listening to our program. Heart to Heart with Michael can be heard every Thursday at noon Eastern time. We'll talk again next time when we'll share more stories. If you would like to continue today's discussion, please join us right after the program In the hug podcast chat room on PAL talk