Grief’s Deception

Hope, Healing & Freedom Podcast: Episode 89

TRANSCRIPT

Grief is a part of life. It is a process that we have to go through when we experience a loss in life. But did you know that grief can lie to you and cause your grief to become destructive? In today’s podcast we are going to talk about some of the lies that grief wants to tell you.

Hi this is Lee Whitman with Restoring the Foundations and in today’s Hope Healing and Freedom podcast we again have some very special guests Dennis and Debbie Jordan and we have asked them to talk about grief. If you have not listened to last week’s podcast, I want to encourage you to go back and listen to what Debbie and Dennis shared about their experience with grief. You guys have learned some incredible lessons from that tragic event. And God led you to write a book on grief, and we are going to talk about your book today. Let’s start by telling us why you wrote this book on grief.

Debbie:

Well, the book has been stirring inside of me for years, since our son’s death. And I would hear that still, small voice, “write the book, Debbie. Write the book”. And I would just push it down because I knew that I would have to deal with the pain in order to write this book. But Dennis and I were speaking at a church in New Mexico about three years ago, and we were there just speaking. And the pastor just said, we have a newly bereaved couple, parents who lost their child a month ago. And we know your story. So, would you be willing to meet with them? And so, we met with them, and they are mainly Spanish speakers. And so, we had a translator who was there with us. And as I was talking to the mother and asking her question, did you feel this way? Did you feel that way? Did you experience this? Did you experience that? And she nodded in the affirmative in everything I said. And I thought, this is universal. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, what country you live in. Grief is so deep that it must be talked about.

And so, on our way home, flying back home, I told Dennis, it’s time to write the book. And so, one weekend I began, it was like in December of 2021, I believe. And Dennis was gone for the weekend. And I just started and cried through the whole weekend as I’m facing the lies that grief tries to lie to us about, to speak to our broken hearts. And I started out with eight lies that are universal, that we discovered ourselves. But also, we’ve been walking with people through all kinds of grief, whether it be a child or a spouse or a dream or a career or their health. So, we’ve been walking with so many people that what we have both found is that these lies are just universal. And just about every one of us have believed these lies.

Some of the lies, and they’re going to ask me what some of the lies are, I’m a prisoner of my regrets now, regret, as we talk about in RTF, regret is a fact, right? It’s a fact. But I realized thinking I’m never going to get over the regrets that I have about my loss or this, that’s a lie.

And another one that’s really big is guilt. And we feel like it’s my fault this loss or this death happened. Like, for us, particularly Dennis, he just felt like his faith was not strong enough. We were a family of faith. We believe God could give life to the dead, and we believe that. But he just always felt my faith is not strong enough to heal my son and it’s my fault that he died.

Dennis

And also not just having enough faith for me. It was also, what kind of sin did I have in my life that God did not answer my prayer? And, I mean, when we get caught up in that trap, the enemy has a heyday in trying to convince us, oh, yes, if you hadn’t had that sin in your life, your son would have gotten well. So, you really just have to go after those lies, because the enemy of our souls is definitely trying to keep you in a long process in ways that they’re not necessary.

Debbie

And a few of the other lies were, I think this is universal for sure, God has let me down. He’s abandoned me. Where is God? He’s nowhere to be found. And then so many people have so much trouble forgiving. And one of the lies is I can never forgive. And it’s a litany of people that we feel like we can never forgive related to the person or the loss that we’ve experienced. Another one is, I will never survive this. Oh, my goodness. In the beginning, early stages of grief, you don’t feel like you’re going to live through this because the pain is so physical, and it is so real. And in fact, Dennis, go ahead, share your story. You didn’t think you would ever survive this?

Dennis

No, I didn’t think I was going to survive it. In fact, I did not want to survive it. Early on, I had a suicide plan, and I was going to check out. I just said, this is too much. I’ve been let down. My son’s not here. I adored him. And so, I thought, I’m not going to live through this. And thank God I had a nurse that I worked with that knew what was happening and intervened. And here I am now, 38 years later, and very glad that I survived. So, if you somehow think, I’ll never survive this and you want to check out, I would highly recommend get the help that you need. Because if I hadn’t survived this, we would have not had a baby daughter. We would have never had seven grandchildren that I would have known about. So basically, don’t ever check out. No matter how bad it gets, do not check out.

Lee

I was just going to say, as I read the chapter on forgiveness, one of the things that jumped out at me was, you even had to forgive the funeral home because they only had white caskets. Can you talk about that at all?

Debbie

Well, Ryan, our son’s favorite color was blue. And I guess for children, the only option is white. And I think that’s still the case, because in reading Levi Lusco’s story about when they buried their daughter, the only option they had was white. But back then, we didn’t think about things like that, but they had someone paint a blue anchor on her casket. So, I was like, why didn’t we have this back then? But we didn’t. And I’ve even seen where some people, that’s their specialty, is what they like to do for children, is take the coffins and paint them according to what the child liked. But that wasn’t available to us back then.

Another chapter, another lie is I have no hope. And we have seen this so often that people just feel so hopeless after a great loss. And one of my favorite examples of hope is in that chapter that I share, and the person tells a story of she had attempted suicide, and she ended up in psychiatric hospital. And the doctor was telling her that, I know you feel like it’s hopeless, that you will never get better, but I will promise you, you will hope again.

And the person said, well, how can you say that depression isn’t curable, there’s no cure for it. And the doctor says, just trust me. I know that you will have hope again. But until you do, let me hold on to hope, until you can begin to hope again. So, I love that example.

And then one of my favorite chapters in the book was the one I wrote on children are more resilient than grief. And that was pretty special to me because I just asked our son, who was nine when his brother died, and he’d never really talked about grief. He’d never talked about. We never saw it. Of course, he went for counseling. He went for help, but he really didn’t express his grief. And so normally, adults just think children are just resilient. They don’t know how to cope. They don’t know how to process grief. And so, we just think they’re resilient. And so, our son said, when I asked him that question, he wrote such an essay about this topic that we ended up including it as a chapter. But he said, children are not that they’re resilient. It’s just that they are unaware.

Lee

That was a very powerful chapter, too. He did a great job in writing that.

Debbie

Bonus lie, are people who don’t understand grief, but they come to you and say, I understand your pain, and you just want to say, liar, liar, but you don’t. And so, I wrote that chapter. It’s how to help those who grieve. And we had one person who read the book said, I am so thankful for this book. He said, so now I know what to do and what not to say when I go through the receiving line at a funeral.

Lee

That is really good because again, people say things that are not always helpful. In a lot of times, Christians don’t know what to say. So, we say things that we are trying to be helpful, but they’re really not. And so, I loved what you guys said last week that Rick Warren said to show up and shut up, which is really good advice. You have also written a workbook, a companion workbook. Tell us the benefit of the workbook would be for people.

Debbie

One thing I did in the book was at the beginning and the end, the format of the book was to give you the lie, then I wrote about the lie, then I gave you practical steps to walk it out then a simple prayer at the end. Then I got into it and thought there needs to be the truth to every lie, so those of us in RTF understand this. The chapters gives them the lie and then the truth and encourages them to declare the truth if they believed any of those lies. So, the workbook in itself, each chapter begins with a scripture that addresses a specific lie grief tells you, then I give your reflective questions with a space to answer, then I give you a devotional reading that stress God’s truth and then gives practical steps on how to walk it out. Then I close with a simple prayer. Every chapter in the workbook ends with a reinforcing declaration of the truth.

In the workbook I also have a whole chapter on a term I borrowed from Daniel Omen called Grief ANTS. Automatic Negative Thoughts. We talk about how to break agreements with these lies, with these Automatic Negative Thoughts and begin to bring God’s truth into that lie. At the end of every chapter, it says to declare this truth, it says “I choose to allow God’s truth to transform me into a new person by changing the way I think”. Another chapter that is in the workbook and not in the original book is How to Lament God’s way. The Western culture does not know how to grieve, and grieving is so important. Studies have shown that most people who end up in long term counseling are there because of unhealed loss or grief. It is important that we acknowledge our feelings, identify them and we allow ourselves to express our feelings in a safe place by getting alone with the Lord and express this is how I am feeling, I am angry. How long oh God, how long? Jesus showed us the perfect lament in Psalms 22:1, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” So questioning God is not a sin, it is actually Biblical.

Lee

That is really good, and one of the things I am encouraged about with your book is that so often we tolerate lies, we live with them. And in the church, we are actually taught to deny things by saying the joy of the Lord is your strength, and you need to rise above yet in the process people deny the reality of what is going on. What would you say to somebody who says, my grief is not that bad, I can handle it, I can tolerate it. Do you have any advice for them?

Dennis

I would say go ahead and stuff it down if you want to but if it is not resolved it is going to resurface and it is probably going to be much more intense than if you just went ahead and do the work now. I would always say to myself, grief is work. There is no other way of putting it, it is work. You are either going to do the work now or you will do the work years down the path. Either way eventually that grief is going to come up one way or the other.

Debbie

In fact, I just got a phone call last weekend from a mom who is now going into her second year of her grief, and I just listened to a grief expert the other day that said the average time – timeline – for grief. He said the average time for the intense grief is two years, so she has been through her second year, and she said, “Debbie is it just like I am back at year one”. What’s happening is that she is at work, and she is getting really sad and missing her daughter and she didn’t have the freedom to deal with it, she just had to stuff it. Then when it comes out she said it is twice as hard. So, I just encouraged her to take a bathroom break or take a short break, of course her coworkers know she had a daughter who died. Just go with the emotions, identify them and express them, “Oh God I am so sad, I miss my daughter”. You just have to ride the waves; it is like ocean waves that you have to ride and just go with the feelings. They are not going to go away until you identify them.

Dennis

And also, sometimes what happens is that people will look at you like, Are you not over this yet? The bottom line is that having buried my son back in 1985 till the day I go home to be with Jesus I will never be over my son’s death. I have learned to live; I have learned to have joy and live again. But the fact that a parent is going to be over it, don’t try to put people on a schedule, it (grief) doesn’t have a schedule.

Lee

That is so good. It doesn’t have a schedule. We want to do that to people, “you know it’s been a year, you ought to be over it by now”. No, you are not going to get over it. I think what I heard you say Dennis if I can put it in my words, you never get over it, but it becomes part of who you are and you go on in life. It doesn’t mean that life is not going to be good, and you can’t have joy, it’s just that this is going to be part of who you are. Would you say that is correct?

Dennis

Yea I would say that the hole will always be there, and the only thing that will ever fill that hole is when I see Ryan again in heaven, that little (hole) will always be there but it doesn’t mean that I don’t love life and enjoy life, but I think other people try to do that to us because they are uncomfortable to bring up the one who died, even with family members or people who knew the child or loved one, they feel like what if they have not gotten over this, what am I going to do. I would say go with the flow and let people be who they are, and again say their name, bring them up, they lived. Ryan only lived 6 ½ years but he lived more in 6 ½ years than most people live in 90 years. Celebrate the gift that your loved one was.

Lee

So, if somebody wants to get a hold of your book and the workbook, where would they go?

Debbie

They would go to any online book distributor where fine books are sold, where good books are sold. Even if they go to bookstores like Barnes and Nobles and request this book, Grief’s Deceptions, Twelve lies whispered to a broken heart. Both the book and the workbook are available as an E-Book.

Lee

You guys are RTF Healing House Ministers, and you do marriage and other kinds of ministry. If people want to get a hold of you for any reason, how can they reach you? Give us an email address.

Dennis

The email address is makeusone1@gmail.com.

Lee

Thank you for writing the book because I know that is a labor of love. Then thank you for being available to help people walk through these lies so that we don’t have to live in the bondage of the past. We can experience life again.

Father God thank you for this time together. I pray that you would take the words that Dennis and Debbie have spoken and let them ring true in peoples hearts. Father there are some of us who are grieving, we may not have lost a child or loved one, but we are grieving other things. And we hold on to grief, we do not deal with grief well, we are not taught how to deal with grief on a solid basis. I ask, Father, that you would use this book to free people up to deal with what is going on in their life and find the freedom that you came to give them. We bless each one who is listening today. Thank you Father for each one.

Thank you for joining us on the episode of Hope Healing and Freedom Podcast. I know I enjoyed it, and I hope you did too. These are wonderful people. If you need to get ahold of them it is makeusone1@gmail.com with questions or for ministry. We look forward to seeing you next week on our Hope Healing and Freedom Podcast.

RTF Featured on The Shawn Bolz Show

On the second half of this week’s episode (May 20th 2024) of “The Shawn Bolz Show”  RTF directors, Lee and Cindi Whitman, were the guests. Watch for powerful insight and two special listener offers on products to help bring hope, healing, and freedom.