In my working with individuals who are struggling with their grief, one of the most difficult obstacles I’ve had is the sense of helplessness that sometimes accompanies grief. I made a call the other day to the wife of a past patient the other day, and she expressed her feelings this way: “You can’t help me.” She went on to talk about how she and her husband did absolutely everything together and how they planned on growing old together. Life without him was unimaginable. Now, two years after his death, every day feels worse than the day before. She has no picture of a future without him, feels unmoored and purposeless, and lacks a sense of her own identity. She has panic attacks and is very depressed most of the time. Worst of all though is her feeling that there’s nothing I or anyone else could do to help her. Continue reading
A reader asked me a while ago about the appropriate use of self-disclosure and I thought that was a great topic to write about more in depth. It can be a touchy subject, as I expect we have all met those who engage in too much self-disclosure with those we support. To completely avoid self-disclosure though is to not use our most valuable and powerful tool, our own story. Continue reading
“…mental illness in general is the price we have to pay for being human…” Anton Boisen, Religion in Crisis and Custom
“Am I normal?” Vin, The Vision
I’m a comics guy, but not a huge comics guy. When I first read that Marvel was creating a limited series focusing solely on one of their more B-list heroes, the
android synthezoid Avenger known as the Vision, I was puzzled. When it was regarded as one of 2016’s best, I still didn’t pay it much attention. After finally reading it through, I can attest to how wrong I was. Continue reading
“You know that the universe vibrates at 528 Hz, right?”
This was only part of the first conversation I had with Neil*, who had just come on hospice and was living at home with with his mother. It was my initial assessment with him, and it was already off to an interesting start. When I arrived for our meeting time he wasn’t available. The neighbors in his apartment building who were sitting outside said that he had just gone out to the local Rite-Aid with his girlfriend. So I waited on the patio until he arrived.
Neil right off the bat struck me as an interesting guy. He was in his mid-50’s, and his long white hair, thin build, pale Hawaiian shirt and straw fedora made him look like a wandering beachcomber. He carried a portable oxygen concentrator, the only visible indicator of his end-stage lung cancer. “Hey man! Sorry I’m late. I had to go get my meds and some toothpaste.” He introduced me to his girlfriend who was with him and neighbors and then escorted me inside, chatting the whole time. Continue reading
The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to surprise me. The fact that it has, for the past 10 years, created not just a series of blockbuster movies that are often fun and occasionally downright compelling is pretty darn impressive. The fact that these movies actually all join together in serial form culminating with Infinity War is even more impressive. The fact that Infinity War itself manages to tell a coherent story across multiple simultaneous arcs and over a dozen primary characters is amazing.
To me, the biggest surprise was Thanos.
Marvel has not always done well with its cinematic villains. The worst (Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2 for example) come off as fairly standard tropes. Their motivations are standard – power, glory, revenge, etcetera. Even the better villains such as Ultron (Avengers: Age of Ultron) I found somewhat disappointing, as came off to me as another take on the monster who destroys its creators as well as everything else.
Thanos, however was quite different. I’ll say why ahead, but if you haven’t watched the film yet what follows may spoil
some of the film for you. I’m also going by memory (and Google), so bear with me if I make storyline errors. Continue reading
A recent article by Dr. John Neihof on the American Family Association website caught my attention recently. I find that I’m often at odds with the AFA, and try to counter some of their more off-base proclamations (the biblical mandate for border walls for example) in their comments section. It’s been a fool’s errand I think, and this fool has run his final errand with the AFA. Continue reading
I revisited an older verbatim that I wrote back in 2011. It’s interesting to go back and review older visits and interactions with the lens of history and experience. I don’t remember this particular case, but it reminds me of several other cases. I do remember that it was rather frustrating for me, which will be evident in the interaction. Continue reading
The relationship between body, mind and soul is one of the most complicated and least understood in the modern world. One reason is that while the three certainly seem distinguishable (at least to those who believe we have a soul) the boundaries are extremely hazy. Is depression a result of a chemical imbalance, a poor self-image, or guilt from personal sin? How you answer this question will be a reflection of not simply your faith but your worldview as well (and the answer is most probably “yes” to all three). Continue reading
Burnout is a common problem for those in helping professions, and while the word or term “burnout” may be used without much thought at times, it is a real problem with specific features. Maslach noted that the features of burnout are multifaceted, including “emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment”. Since caregiver burnout was first described in the early ’70’s a great deal of material has been written in order to study its effects and possible ways to alleviate it. Because of their visible role in the workplaces where they serve, chaplains can become a resource to help their coworkers prevent burnout and provide staff support as well as indirectly provide better patient outcomes.