Archive for the ‘hospice’ Category

Disenfranchised Grief is a term describing grief that is not acknowledged (or is trivialized) by society.

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

At the hospital where I have worked as a chaplain for the past twenty years I was recently consulted to visit an elderly, chronically-ill patient.  I was informed by the referring social worker that the woman,”Lost her husband last week.”

The woman shared that her recently deceased husband spent twenty years in prison.  As our visit continued she further revealed that her husband had been in prison for the murder of her son.  The patient shared with me that she did not leave the marriage.  She waited for him to get out of jail and for he past five years cared for him at home until he died of cancer.  This was an experience of chaplaincy that I will never forget; it is also one of the most beautiful examples of inner-healing I have ever witnessed and been privileged to have a small part in.

Disenfranchised grief is when your heart is grieving but you can’t talk about or share your pain with others because it is considered unacceptable to others.

Disenfranchised grief is hidden grief.  Often, it is never revealed.  Some, for fear of not being accepted, take their painful secrets to the grave with them.  As a chaplain I strive to create a sacred spacean environment where the other person feels safe to share what they are experiencing inside and find acceptance in their vulnerability. I try to create a space where the person feels confident that they will not be judged, but listened to, and accepted for who they are.

The following are just a few of the countless examples of loss that may be experienced as Disenfranchised Grief: 1) A miscarried or aborted pregnancy, giving a child up for adoption 2) Loss of gay or lesbian partner 3) Rape or sexual assault 4)  Loss of a pet 5) Retirement  6) Loss resulting from suicide 7) Divorce 8) Families of incarcerated individuals.  9) Loss of a grandchild 10) Any grief that exceeds society’s preconceived time limit for grieving.  To find many more examples and additional information on disenfranchised grief click:  https://www.vision.org/visionmedia/grief-and-loss/disenfrachised-grief/2202.aspx

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Check out “Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time” – By Charles W. Sidoti with contributing author Rabbi Akiva Feinstein – A Traditionally Published Book

 http://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

God isn’t removed from us, sitting on some throne up in heaven somewhere. The “universal creative life enerty” is found within the created world, within life’s natural cycles.

This article is an excerpt from, Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time,written by Charles W. Sidoti.

From womb to tomb, our lives are fundamentally affected by the cycles and rhythm of life. The beat of our hearts and our breathing, without which nothing else would matter, are examples of our inseparable connection to life’s rhythm. The cycles at work in the world are easy to see. For instance, every day the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, marking the start and end of each new day, a cycle to be repeated far into the future. Like the sun’s movements, our cycle of rising in the morning and going to sleep each night demonstrates one of many similar cycles present in the working of the human body. The four seasons, the ocean tides, the cycle of life, death and rebirth are taking place everyplace you look.

Reflecting on these cycles is worthwhile for anyone who would like to live more peacefully. Being aware of life’s rhythm makes it possible for you to enter into the dance of life in a more deliberate way. It enables you to have a more patient attitude toward life, with yourself, and with others. When you learn to appreciate the natural rhythm and cycles of life, the sense of urgency that can have such a tyrannical effect on your mind begins to slowly diminish. Awareness of life’s rhythmic cycles and conscious movement with them, promotes peace, harmony, and healing. Our essential oneness connects us with the entire universe, and with God.

An interesting way of understanding how cycles can affect our lives is found in the ancient Chinese theory of how things work called Yin-Yang. Many have found this theory to have invaluable meaning and true wisdom. The symbol that represents this way of understanding is:

The outer circle of the symbol represents “everything,” while the black and white shapes within the circle represent the interaction of two energies present in our lives, called “yin” (black) and “yang” (white), which cause everything to happen. They are not completely black or white, just as things in life are not completely black or white, and they cannot exist without each other. “Yin” represents the movement of energy in our lives that is dark, passive, downward, cold, contracting, and weak. “Yang” represents energy that is bright, active, upward, hot, expanding, and strong.

The shapes of the yin and yang sections of the symbol give you a sense of the continuous movement of these two energies, yin to yang and yang to yin. This representation demonstrates the understanding of cycles in our lives. In the yin-yang theory, the cycle demonstrates the relationship of positive and negative energy flowing within our lives. Our moods, our outlook on life and how life happens, seem to relate to this yin-yang movement from the dark to the light.

Rhythm heals. Why does music make us feel better? It is because rhythm is so basic to the human body and mind. Getting lost in our desires and worries has a way of fragmenting our psyche, causing us to be out of out of balance and out of harmony with the rest of life. We become lost in our minds and imaginations. Music, whether it is classical music, popular music, or the rhythm of an African or Indian drumbeat, can help bring us back in sync. It has a way of de-fragmenting our minds that inwardly heals us.

The purpose of reflecting on, or paying more attention to, the hidden cycles and rhythms in life is that you might gradually learn to struggle less against their movement and begin to move more gracefully with them. It is important to realize that life’s cycles and rhythms are the way God chooses to work in the world as well as in our personal lives. Remember, God isn’t removed from you, sitting up on some throne in heaven somewhere. The “universal creative life energy” is found within the created world and its natural cycles. God comes to you and me through the very essence of our lives. This is true from the farthest reaches of the universe to your own heartbeat and your next breath.

Connecting Point: Becoming familiar with life’s natural rhythmic cycles helps us to relax and move more easily with life, to resisting less and growing more.

Prayer: God of spring, summer, fall, and winter, help me to see your presence in the many seasons and cycles of my life. In the lapping of the waves on the shore, in the wonderful rhythm of my favorite song, and in the beat of my own heart, help me to recognize your creative love in the rhythm of my life. Amen.

$14.95 Today on Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

Contents: http://pastoralplanning.com/23rdBookParts/LivingGodsSpeed_TOC.pdf

Read the Introduction: http://pastoralplanning.com/23rdBookParts/LivingGodsSpeed_Intro.

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC: https://sidoticharles.wordpress.com/

I have experienced enough of life to realize that there are definite personal advantages to becoming a more patient person. I have made it one of my lifetime goals. I call it a lifetime goal because it may take that long for me to actually become patient. There is nothing wrong with that; it won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, I have made what I consider to be a giant step forward by realizing the great truth that patience is not passive. This powerful spiritual principal is contained in the words of sculptor Auguste Rodin who said, “Patience is also a form of action.” It may be one of the most powerful forms of action we can take. The statement “Patience is also a form of action” represents a radically different way of understanding the meaning of the word “patience.” When someone reminds us that we “need to be patient,” it can cause us to feel frustrated. Being told to “be patient” seems to force us into passivity, a helpless, hopeless desert of waiting. The desert of waiting is created from the erroneous belief that absolutely nothing will happen with regard to our situation unless we personally do it. If I believe this to be true and have reached the end of what is within my control to do, regarding something or someone that I care very much about, then frustration is a completely logical emotion to feel.

To understand how “having patience” can be a form of action, it is first necessary to realize that having patience is about being open to other possibilities regarding the outcome of events or situations in our lives as we stand before an uncertain future. It will require a letting go of the need to receive an immediate answer to our many questions. Patience, in a healthy sense, involves really believing in the existence of a power greater than me and trusting in that power enough to allow it to act upon my situation without my constant interference. To live patiently is to decide that you can live with the questions and let the answers come to you through the unfolding of events.

The classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz is the story of Dorothy Gale’s journey through the beautiful and magical Land of Oz. The purpose of Dorothy’s journey is to see the Wizard who will, hopefully, grant her heart’s desire which is to go home. The Wizard of Oz is widely recognized as a story which, on many levels, relates metaphorically to our own journey through life. If you have seen the film, you may recall the beautiful scene in which Dorothy, after just arriving in Munchkin Land, encounters Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. Dorothy has just received instructions from Glinda on how to get to The Emerald City, where The Wizard of Oz lives. She is told to, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.” Dorothy walks to the place where the Yellow Brick Road begins, and says aloud to herself, while questioning the strange directive, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road?” Turning to look at Glinda, she asks, “But what happens if I…?” At this point Glinda cuts off Dorothy mid-sentence and with a tinge of sternness in her voice says to Dorothy, “Just follow the Yellow Brick Road.” The Good Witch then floats away and disappears. Dorothy does indeed follow the Yellow Brick Road with her questions yet unanswered. She is able to set the questions aside for the moment. Dorothy is able to trust enough in the counsel she received from Glinda to place her feet upon the Yellow Brick Road and begin her journey through the Land of Oz. We know from the story that the answer to Dorothy’s many questions was given to her through the living out of that journey.

The dialogue between Dorothy and Glinda, especially Dorothy’s response, humbly accepting the directive from Glinda to follow the Yellow Brick Road, is worth further reflection. Dorothy’s response is analogous to that of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her response to the news of the Angel Gabriel that she was to become the mother of Jesus. Luke’s Gospel tells us that Mary was “perplexed” by the angel’s greeting, and further expressed that she did not understand how she could conceive a child in her womb, because she was a virgin. In the end Mary set aside her questions and trusted in a power greater than herself, a power that was beyond her ability to understand. “Mary said, ‘I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say.’ With that the angel left her” (Luke 1:38). The answer to Mary’s questions came as she lived out her life’s journey, and in so doing became a central part of salvation history.

Mary’s patience toward getting the answer to her questions was also a form of action, a very radical form of action. Mary’s patience was an acknowledgment of the power of God to act in her life in an unimaginable circumstance. It was at the same time a most profound expression of trust that the word of God spoken to her would be fulfilled. In the same gospel, when Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, part of what Elizabeth said to Mary included these words, “Blest is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:45). Our lives contain a mixture of events, some of which are good and others that are tragic, that are beyond our ability to understand. God asks us to trust in the midst of these circumstances in the same way Mary and many other figures from Sacred Scripture were called upon to trust. When we choose to practice patience instead of insisting on receiving immediate answers to our questions or to know beforehand “how” God will work things out in our lives, our patience becomes a powerful form of action. The verse from the Book of Proverbs mentioned earlier also applies here, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The contemplative connection: Call to mind a situation in your life to which responding with patient-trust might be appropriate. Accept the anxiety of allowing your questions to go unanswered for now. Ask God to help you to move forward in trust, confident that the answers you seek will be given in the living out of your life. In this way your patience is also a form of action.


This article is from my traditionally published book “Simple Contemplative Spirituality.” View it on the publisher’s website: http://amordeus.com/giftShopProductDetails.aspx?itemID=520http://amordeus.com/giftShopProductDetails.aspx?itemID=520

 

via Daily Prompt: Hopeful

Simply saying the words, “The Lord is my shepherd,” is often sufficient to turn our attention toward God; and turning our conscious attention toward God is a simple, pure, and powerful form of prayer. 

This article is an excerpt from “Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time,” written by Charles W. Sidoti and Rabbi Akiva Feinstein

The Psalms are unique among the books of the Bible, revealing a mysterious healing quality in their ability to connect with us at a personal and profound level.  It is not uncommon when reading the Psalms to find that the words give expression to our most human emotions at the very core of our being – emotions that range from the deepest, darkest despair to the most exultant, liberating joy.  The ability of the Psalms to connect with us, in many ways, also heals us.  As we prayerfully read them, we find that it is the spirit of God with whom they connect our mind and heart.

Psalm 23 is one of the most popular psalms, as well as one of the most comforting.  It opens with the familiar words, “The Lord is my shepherd,” Many people have found that they do not need to pray the entire psalm to experience its healing power.  Simply saying the words, “The Lord is my shepherd,” is often sufficient to turn our attention toward God; and turning our conscious attention toward God is a simple, pure, and powerful form of prayer.

The Twenty-Third Psalm can provide immediate help in difficult moments.  When we find ourselves facing a stressful situation, speaking the words, “The Lord is my shepherd,” can help us to let go long enough to see how God can act in our lives.  It can help us to let go, even if only momentarily, of the sense of urgency that we often feel toward a situation, giving God room to work.  When we say, “The Lord is my shepherd,” it is really the same as saying, “I trust you God,” while at the same time expressing a willingness to wait upon the Lord.  In many of life’s situations, after we have done what is within our control, waiting on the Lord is precisely what we need to do.

Psalm 23 is sometimes associated with death.  There is a great scene in the 1997 film Titanic in which Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) is anxiously pushing his way through a long line of terrified passengers, all of whom are rushing to reach the highest end of the doomed and rapidly sinking ship.  Someone in the death march just ahead of Jack is heard reciting the Twenty-Third Psalm.  The person is shown reading the psalm while slowly marching, saying, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…,” to which Jack shouts out, “Hey, would you mind walking a little faster through ‘that there’ valley!”

In the Jewish tradition, Psalm 23 is commonly included among the prayers that are said during the period of surrounding a person’s death.  It is recited in the House of Mourning during the time of Shivah.  The Hebrew word Shivah means “seven” and refers to the seven-day period of formalized mourning by the immediate family of the deceased.  Likewise, the Twenty-Third Psalm is often recited at Christian funerals.  For many mourners, it can be very comforting, allowing them to be assured that their loved one is being taken care of by God, even though the person has passed from this life to the next.

Yet the words of this particular psalm do not speak primarily about death.  They are clearly spoken in reference to life and living.  They speak about how God directs, anoints, and comforts us, and of God showering us with kindness.

There is only one clear reference to death.  It is the earlier mentioned, familiar verse, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” and even this reverence is veiled.  The Hebrew word tzalmavet, though commonly translated into English as a reference to death, would more accurately be translated here as a “dark and shadowy place.”

The Twenty-Third Psalm certainly is comforting in regard to facing the final death that we will all experience one day.  It is important to remember, however, that its application to daily living, its comforting words telling of God’s promise to guide and shepherd us through the many dark periods that we all experience, make it a powerful prayer that can provide hope and reassurance for today.  There are countless small “deaths” that we experience during the constant change that is so much a part of life.  The promise of the Twenty-Third Psalm is very much for the living, in this world as well as the next.

Connecting Point: The Psalms have a special healing quality in their ability to connect with our emotions.  Discover that power for yourself by prayerfully reading them on a daily basis.  The Twenty-Third Psalm is especially comforting.  In its words we find God’s promise to guide, protect, and lead us as a shepherd guides his or her flock through life’s many changes. It helps us to wait in hope upon the Lord during the dark, shadowy periods, through the many deaths that we experience as we journey through life.

Prayer: Merciful Lord, so often I resist your lead, impatiently trusting instead in my own understanding and my own schemes to make things happen.  And so you wait on me to trust in you.  Help me to let you be the shepherd of my life.  Help me to hear and respond to your voice and to accept your guidance.  Help me learn to wait patiently upon you in hope, trusting that the good things that you promise will be given, and to let it be in your time.  Amen.

Only $14.95 on Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

Contentshttp://pastoralplanning.com/23rdBookParts/LivingGodsSpeed_TOC.pdf

Read the Introduction: http://pastoralplanning.com/23rdBookParts/LivingGodsSpeed_Intro.

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via Daily Prompt: Mystical

God’s ways are mysterious to us because of our inability to see into the future. We do not have God’s perspective.

Written by Charles W. Sidoti, BCC, / Blog: https://sidoticharles.wordpress.com/

Like it or not our lives are unfolding mysteries. I say “like it or not” because sometimes it is very hard to let our lives be a mystery. Often, we would much rather know the outcome of things – now. The old Beatles song “Let It Be” has always held special meaning for me. The wisdom of the song’s message seems to apply especially well in regard to coming to terms with the realm of mystery in our lives. The question is, “Can you…let it be?”

When we talk about the realm of mystery in our lives we are talking about everything and everyone both in this particular moment and beyond. It includes what has already happened in our past and its relationship to what is yet to come. The realm of mystery in our lives is, in large part, about what the future holds for us and for those we love.

Many people, myself included, enjoy a good mystery. The elements of mystery, intrigue, and surprise make for good reading, storytelling, and movies. In fact, without them the stories, movies, and books we enjoy so much would be boring and bland. It is interesting to observe that the very thing we look for in movies and books to make them worthwhile, the element of mystery, is often perceived as threatening to us when it comes to our own life. Mystery, as it unfolds in the life of a character in a movie, we experience as pure joy and entertainment. This is because we have no real stake in the outcome of the story or the fate of the character. Not only do we enjoy the presence of mystery in the movies we watch and the books we read; we are actually healed by it. Perhaps what is so healing about a good mystery novel is that by reading it, by allowing ourselves to be absorbed in the story, we enter a state of being where we accept the element of mystery, or the unknown, in our minds and hearts. Again, because we have no real stake in the outcome of the story, we are not threatened by it, yet we still benefit emotionally from its healing effect.

And yet, so much of our actual lives are an unfolding mystery, in that the future is unknown to us. So the question becomes: How can we begin to transfer some of the acceptance we have for the element of mystery in books and movies into our own lives as we face the very real future?

The first step is to realize that the same “element of mystery” that adds spice to the things we find entertaining also adds spice to our real lives and makes living worthwhile. The more we allow this truth to be integrated into our life, the more we will be able to let life be a mystery. Learning to see the unknown element of your life (the future) no longer as a threat, but as simply the way life is, will allow you to relax. It will enable you to participate, and to respond more freely, to the unfolding mystery that is the story of your life.

Connecting Point: It has been said, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” It is absolutely true. God’s ways are mysterious to us because of our inability to see into the future. We do not have God’s perspective. Just for today, try to believe that God is doing God’s part in your life in ways that, at least for now, may be unknown to you. Believe that, eventually, God’s unseen work will be made known to you. Realize, however, that it may only be in hindsight that you are able to see it; and that is something to look forward to!

Prayer: Lord, it is hard to wait, especially when I feel alone and confused. Help me to respond with enough trust in you to allow some measure of mystery in my life. Help me to learn to live with the uncertainty that is a naturally occurring part of life, as unsettling as it is. In those times, help me to really believe that you are at work in my life in ways yet unknown to me, and to trust in your work on my behalf. Help me to be patient. Amen.

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God s time often differs from our time says the author, and in this compelling book (written with Rabbi Akiva Feinstein), he provides spiritual insights about how to cope with constant change and the worry about the future that comes with it.

God s time often differs from our time says the author, and in this compelling book (written with Rabbi Akiva Feinstein), he provides spiritual insights about how to cope with constant change and the worry about the future that comes with it.

This article is an excerpt from “Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time.A Traditionally Published Book – Get it on Amazon $14.95: https://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

dailypost.wordpress.com

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

The ability to hope is a fundamental aspect of being human. One of the most important truths I’ve learned as a hospital chaplain caring for terminally ill patients is that “hope changes.” For example, at the beginning of the disease process we may hope for a cure and our returning to the former activity of our lives. As the disease progresses we may hope to be well enough to see a wedding, a birth, a graduation. Toward the end of the disease process we may find ourselves hoping for a peaceful death, a peaceful transition, perhaps the healing of relationships prior to death, either for ourselves or for a loved one. It is the nature of hope that it will always require us to wait while our life unfolds.

No one likes to wait. We often find it difficult to accept, and yet so much of our life’s journey seems to involve waiting for God to reveal the hidden meaning behind the changes that take place in our lives. It is important to realize that not all waiting is the same. Waiting on God is not like waiting for a red light to turn green, where nothing really changes except the color of the light. As we wait on the Lord, there are significant and purposeful things occurring behind the scenes. These “things” are God’s work taking place within the changes that occur in our lives. The reason you and I have to wait is because God’s work is accomplished and revealed to us in the daily unfolding of our lives, slowly and over time. A major part of my work as a chaplain is to help people to wait in hope, and to walk with them as their hope changes.


 

Two “Hope Inspiring” Holiday Gift Ideas! 

simple_contemplative_spirituality125NEW BOOK!!  Click to view and / or learn more about “SIMPLE CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY” $13.95 on the publisher’s website: http://amordeus.com/giftShopProductDetails.aspx?itemID=520

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“Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time” $14.95  on Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

 

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC, author of, Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time, and Simple Contemplative Spirituality

As a hospital chaplain I am called upon to serve people from various faiths. My role is to help them to get in touch with their own spiritual resources, which may involve different religious practices and beliefs, and to help provide for those specific needs. My personal faith and religious formation is that of a Catholic Christian.

Far and away one of the most helpful things we can learn on our spiritual journey is to appreciate the religious beliefs of other people. One of the greatest blessings I have received as a hospital chaplain is exposure to religious traditions and beliefs of people that are different than my own. Sometimes I am invited to participate in those religious practices. These times have provided a priceless opportunity to learn about other faiths, thereby enriching my own spirituality by transcending the religious barriers that tend to keep people apart.

I recently heard a speaker use the term “Cultural Humility.” I had never heard it before and it immediately intrigued me. Cultural Humility is a term that was coined to describe a way of infiltrating multiculturalism by healthcare professionals. Going beyond the idea of Cultural Competency, Cultural Humility focuses on self-reflection, fostering mutual respect, and lifelong learning between cultures.

The concept of “Cultural Humility” reminds me of the following quotation which I think epitomizes the term (adjusted slightly to be inclusive):

Our first task in approaching another people, another culture,   another religion, is to take off our shoes, for the place we are approaching is holy. Else we may find ourselves treading on another’s dream. More serious still, we may forget that the Universal Creative Life Energy (referred to by many as God) was present before our arrival.  (Raymond Hummer)

simple_contemplative_spirituality125

TWO “HOPE INSPIRING” HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS!

NEW BOOK!!  Click to view and / or learn more about “SIMPLE CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY” on the publisher’s website: http://amordeus.com/giftShopProductDetails.aspx?itemID=520

51JrEWm+cNL._SL500_AA300_

 

“Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time” – on Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X