Archive for December, 2018

Counseling: Crisis of Life

SURVIVING THE CRISIS OF LIFE

Everyone experiences crises in their lives. When we choose to love someone, we must accept the possibility that we may lose that person to death or separation. Since crises are an inevitable fact of life, it’s important we know how to survive them. We must prepare for them and be prepared to help others when they go through them.

The Crisis Opportunity: During a crisis, we are thrown off balance, and the crisis represents a turning point for better or worse. If we cope effectively, we can strengthen our potential for a rewarding life. It can be an opportunity that enriches our personality by helping us shake off old habits and establish new ones.

Crisis and Illness: 93 percent of all major illnesses were associated with life changes whose value totaled at least 150 points annually. Not every major life change or crisis produced illness, but several of them together could add up to do so. Of persons with life changes totaling 150-199 points, 37 percent had an illness. When changes totaled 200-299, it was 51 percent; over 300 points, 79 percent became ill. Life events that appear to affect our health, with the point values assigned to these events, are listed here:

Life Event Values

Death of spouse 100
Divorce 73
Marital separation 65
Jail term 63
Death of close family member 63
Personal injury or illness 53
Marriage 50
Fired at work 47
Marital reconciliation 45
Retirement 45
Change in health of family member 44
Pregnancy 40
Sexual difficulties 39
Gain of new family member 39
Change in financial state 38
Death of close friend 37
Arguments with spouse 35
Mortgage over $10,000 31
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan 30
Son or daughter leaving home 29
Trouble with in-laws 29
Outstanding personal achievement 28
Wife begins or stops work 26
Begin or end school 26
Change in living conditions 25
Revision of personal habits 24
Trouble with boss 23
Change in work hours or conditions 20
Change in school 20
Change in recreation 19
Change in church activities 19
Change in social activities 18
Mortgage or loan less than $10,000 17
Change in sleeping habits 16
Change in family get-togethers 15
Change in eating habits 15
Vacation 13
Minor violations of the law 11

First Stage: Denial. The doctor tells a wife that her husband is dying. “No, not me — it cannot be true” is her first reaction. Our first response is usually denial: “It can’t be true.” We say to ourselves, “It won’t happen! It just can’t happen! God wouldn’t let this happen to us after we’ve faithfully served Him.”

Second Stage: Anger. “Why me?” usually follows the denial stage. Someone asked a widow, “Why are you so angry over your husband’s death?” The widow quickly and angrily replied, “I am not angry. Why do you say that?” After arriving home, she pondered her friend’s statement and recognized that she really was angry. Admitting her anger helped her move on to the next stage.

Third Stage: Bargaining. After dealing with anger, an individual may think that if he talks nicely or bargains with God, God may change His mind. Bargaining is often used when divorce is involved. An individual may say, “I promise I won’t step out on you again if you will give me another chance.”

Fourth Stage: Depression. This is the most difficult stage. The depressed individual needs careful attention because he believes he cannot do anything to relieve his suffering. Depression may involve retreating, shrinking or withdrawing, or even committing suicide. An individual going from one lifestyle to another descends into a valley that may be compared to the “valley of the shadow of death” mentioned in the Twenty-Third Psalm. The Psalm says that we do not walk through this valley alone because God is with us. Though a husband or a wife is gone, we are never alone. God is with us during each stage of life’s journey.

Fifth Stage: Acceptance. If a patient has had enough time (i.e., not a sudden, unexpected death) and has been given some help in working through the previously described stages, he will reach a stage in which he is neither depressed nor angry about his ‘fate. Acceptance should not be mistaken for a happy stage. It is almost void of feelings. It is as if the pain and struggle is over, and there is a time of rest before the long journey. There are a few patients who fight to the end, who struggle and keep a hope that makes it almost impossible to reach this stage of acceptance. They are the ones who will say one day, ‘I just cannot make it anymore.’ The day they stop fighting, the fight is over. In other words, the harder they struggle to avoid inevitable death — the more they try to deny it — the more difficult it will be for them to reach this final stage of acceptance with peace and dignity.

Counseling Those in a Crisis: A crisis is a disruption in a person’s state of stability by a disturbing situation. Just as we need to talk about death, there is a need to discuss divorce because divorce is the death of a relationship. Understanding where we are in a crisis helps us evaluate our emotions. It helps to vent our emotions into nondestructive channels. Life changes such as death and divorce have a stressful effect upon people. Negative responses to these stresses lead to physical illness, emotional illness, or possibly suicide. Positive responses can strengthen our potential for a rewarding life and enrich our personality. Reaching the stage of acceptance in a crisis helps our faith to grow and develop. As Christians, we have a certain or “sure” hope. In Hebrews 6:19, we read: “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast …”

There is nothing — no circumstance, no trouble, no testing — that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift my eyes up to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disarm me, no circumstance will cause me to fret, for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is. That is the rest of victory.

Family Tradition SHMILY

SHMILY
My grandparents were married for over half a century, and played their own special game from the time they had met each other. The goal of their game was to write the word “shmily” in a surprise place for the other to find. They took turns leaving “shmily” around the house, and as soon as one of them discovered it, it was their turn to hide it once more.

They dragged “shmily” with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers to await whoever was preparing the next meal. They smeared it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio where my grandma always fed us warm, homemade pudding w/ blue food coloring. “Shmily” was written in the steam left on the mirror after a hot shower, where it would reappear bath after bath. At one point, my grandmother even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper to leave “shmily” on the very last sheet.

There was no end to the places “shmily” would pop up. Little notes with “shmily” scribbled hurriedly were found on dashboards, and car seats, or taped to steering wheels. The notes were stuffed inside shoes and left under pillows. “Shmily” was written in the dust upon the mantel and traced in the ashes of the fireplace. This mysterious word was as much a part of my grandparents’ house as the furniture.

It took me a long time before I was able to fully appreciate my grandparents’ game. Skepticism has kept me from believing in true love one that is pure and enduring. However, I never doubted my grandparents’ relationship. They had love down pat. It was more than their flirtatious little games; it was a way of life. Their relationship was based on a devotion and passionate affection which not everyone is lucky experience.

Grandma and Grandpa held hands every chance they could. They stole kisses as they bumped into each other in their tiny kitchen. They finished each other’s sentences and shared the daily crossword puzzle and word jumble. My grandma whispered to me about how cute my grandpa was, how handsome an old he had grown to be. She claimed that she really knew “how to pick ‘em.” Before every meal they bowed their heads and gave thanks, marveling at their blessings: a wonderful family, good fortune, and each other.

But there was a dark cloud in my grandparents’ life: my grandmother had breast cancer. The disease had first appeared ten years earlier. As always, Grandpa was with her every step of the way. He comforted her in their yellow room, painted that way so that she could always be surrounded by sunshine, even when she was too sick to go outside.

Now the cancer was again attacking her body. With the help of a cane and my grandfather’s steady hand, they went to church every morning. But my grandmother grew steadily weaker until, finally, she could not leave the house anymore. For a while, Grandpa would go to church alone, praying to God to watch over his wife. Then one day, what we all dreaded finally happened. Grandma was gone.

“Shmily.” It was scrawled in yellow on the pink ribbons of my grandmother’s funeral bouquet. As the crowd thinned and the last mourners turned to leave, my aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members came forward and gathered around Grandma one last time. Grandpa stepped up to my grandmother’s casket and, taking a shaky breath, he began to sing to her. Through his tears and grief, the song came, a deep and throaty lullaby.

Shaking with my own sorrow, I will never forget that moment. For I knew that, although I couldn’t begin to fathom the depth of their love, I had been privileged to witness its unmatched beauty.

S-H-M-I-L-Y: See How Much I Love You.