As COVID-19 began to impact our lives personally, I began Liz has served in ministry alongside of her hus-
tracking our losses. Since January of 2020, Scott & I have lost 28 band, Clint, since 1993. The Knowles’ currently
friends and family members. In Florida, we have been made serve as Regional Bishop for the Church of God
aware of 55 deaths among our ministry partners, obviously, not
all Covid related. And, there are many that we’ve missed or were of Prophecy in Ohio and West Virginia.
not made aware of, I’m sure. At times, the sense of loss has
been daunting. There were times I dreaded opening a text Liz is an Administrative Assistant and leads
message or taking a call, or refused to go on Facebook for dread Women’s Ministries for their two states. She has
of being informed of another loss. You’ve realized these same an Associates Degree in Music Education and a
emotions. Consequently, never before has the church had such
an opportunity to minister as our congregants, neighbors, and Bachelors in Pastoral Counseling with an
co-workers have been impacted by sickness and death. emphasis in Addiction.
Thus, the focus for this month will be grief counseling and self- Celebrate Recovery, support groups and
care. Herein we will consider: women’s half-way houses are places where Liz
feels right at home in. She is passionate about
• The grieving process
• Importance of self-care, emotional and spiritual health while hope and sharing hope.
• Support for those who grieve
QUESTION 1 In 2018, I lost my sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and father-in-law
As you reflect upon the passing of your within seven months. We also lost four other family members. How
friend or loved one, what remembrances did we get on the other side of grief? We simply had to walk through
(celebrations, gatherings, events, trips) do it, and faith was an essential ingredient.
you have (positive or negative)?
Scott and I processed our grief based on our relationship with each
CAREGIVER: family member, our unique personalities, and the type of death each
Pray that your friend or loved one realized. Some deaths came as no surprise, others were totally
will continue to experience joy as unexpected. Some were loved ones we spoke with occasionally, others
they remember how special the conversed with daily. Some we had not seen in years, others we
deceased was to them. If grace and prioritized frequent encounters. As a result, grieving our losses looked
forgiveness needs to be extended, different based on personal relationships. With that being said, there’s
ask God to heal those broken no way to offer you 5 Simple Steps to Processing Grief, for it’s so personal.
When Genise, Mom and Dad Gillum passed away, Scott spent hours
QUESTION 2 looking at their photos and reminiscing. He wept every day for
Now that your friend or loved one is months and secluded himself. His grieving was evident as he
gone, what do you miss the most about frequently gave voice to his losses. I, on the other hand, found it very
them? difficult to look at family photos and became weary of our
discussions. Business kept me emotionally healthy. We processed our
CAREGIVER: losses very differently although the depth of my relationship with my
As a caregiver, offer comfort. in-laws was deep, rich, and intimate.
Thank God for who this person
was to the one you’re attempting I had to be intentional, attentive, and patient with Scott on multiple
to care for. fronts. Often, I simply sat beside him as he wept. No words. Just
comfort. When I expressed sorrow, it was not uncommon for him to
QUESTION 3 respond, “Me too”. I allowed him space to grieve and be reflective.
How has (and will) this loss of someone He allowed me to busy myself. Remember: Each person’s grief is
so dear impacted your life as well as the uniquely his or her own. It is neither predictable, orderly, nor easily
life of those closest to you? Cite family categorized.
members and how you perceive they are/
will be impacted. Months into our losses, a dear friend concerned about our emotional
health, Dr. David Ferguson, gave us several questions to process
CAREGIVER: together. (Cited on this page.) Perhaps these questions will help you
Pray for those named whose lives process personal loss and serve as a tool to help others you seek to
are forever changed as a result of walk alongside.
QUESTION 4 What will you miss the most about this person who was so special?
What expectations and hopes did you CAREGIVER: Thank God for the deceased and how they impacted
have for your friend or loved one --- that the life of the one you are seeking help.
will not be realized due to their passing
away? (Example: future weddings, fami- QUESTION 6
ly celebrations, etc.) Cite specific ways that your deceased friend or loved one expressed their love. What
did they do that communicated to you, their love?
CAREGIVER: CAREGIVER: Affirm this individual in how their friend or family
Express your sorrow to the one member made their love and care known. Celebrate them being
you are seeking to comfort, for loved.
they will never experience future
life celebrations as they had hoped. QUESTION 7
What are some of the emotions you have experienced as a result of losing this spe-
CAREGIVER: Pray that God would restore emotional health and
close with a prayer of gratitude for the one who has passed.
We’re often more concerned about I have always been drawn to other
securing our own comfort than pastor’s wives when they lose their
offering it to the one who needs it life partner. In 2020/2021, four
most. So how do we best walk with those personal friends/ministry wives lost
who grieve? How do we overcome our
biases and resistances to become their husbands (in Oklahoma,
deliverers of comfort? Here are some Indiana, Alabama, and Tennessee)
ways you and I can bring relief to those due to Covid-19. Consequently, for
who grieve: one year, I endeavor to send a card
on a monthly basis to let them know
ALLOW THE GRIEF. Take a deep
breath and let it be what it is. Let it be they are not forgotten.
ugly, unmanageable, and unattractive. Below are additional ways to express
ANTICIPATE INTERNAL care to a grieving friend:
RESISTANCE. Our survivor nature
makes us shrink from suffering. And yet • SHARE MEMORIES which
pain is one of life’s most valuable tools. includes reflections, photos or
Anticipate your resistance to it. Don’t be cards.
surprised. Then reframe how you see it.
Pain is a profound teacher. • REMEMBER SPECIAL
DAYS such as birthdays,
MOVE CLOSER. When we don’t know wedding anniversary’s or
what to do or say, we tend to not respond. anniversary deaths. Stay
Acknowledge this, and then do the connected.
opposite. Avoidance reeks of rejection.
And rejection only complicates and • BE PRESENT. Comfort with
extends grief. your presence.
LEARN THE ART OF • PROVIDE PRACTICAL
EMPATHY. Allow yourself to feel the ASSISTANCE. Meals. Lawn-
loss, just a little bit. Like taking a trip care, etc.
together, allow yourself to travel down the
emotional road of their experience, • ACCEPT SILENCE. Listen
honoring the losses by being willing to feel more than you speak.
a small portion of their pain. Expect to
feel uncomfortable, even heavy. (Source: • ALLOW FOR THE GRIEF
How to Bring Relief to Those Who Grieve by PROCESS. This entails talking,
Michele Cushatt) tears, and time.
• SHARE A MEANINGFUL
GIFT. For one a widow
friend, I gifted the book, Seeing
Beautiful Again, by Lysa Terkeurst
(50 Devotions to find redemption in
every part of your story.)
Grieving is not isolated to death As ministry wives it is imperative that we take time to process, grieve,
alone. We can grieve: and give attention to self- care. In the July newsletter we emphasized
the importance of rest. I quoted author, Noah BenShaw, “It’s the space
• LOSS OF A between the notes that makes the music.” And I add, it’s the ‘space’ between
RELATIONSHIP. hospital visits, funeral homes, life celebrations, your secular job, and
A friendship that was deeply regular church gatherings that enables you to enjoy the rhythm of
meaningful. Perhaps the loss significant ministry. What are you doing to provide relief from the
is from a transition or the tension of this stressful season of ministry?
result of trust issues, per-
haps a divorce that broke In an article by Doug Clay entitled Pastoral Self-Care in a Pandemic, he
fellowship with an in-law. offered the following recommendations for pastors, and I add, their
wives. These suggestions were the outcomes of a Zoom meeting with
• LOSS OF A JOB a Mental Health Care Committee.
due to our actions or at the
hands of social injustice, 1. Be mindful of your boundaries
perhaps even, a byproduct 2. Find a trusted friend to process with
of Covid-19. 3. Intentionally manage your input
4. Take are of yourself
• LOSS OF A HOME 5. Humor really helps
from bankruptcy, a fire, or 6. Hold realistic expectations
transition. 7. Worship privately
8. Control what you can
• LOSS OF HEALTH 9. Instill hopefulness
• LOSS OF INCOME Mark Dance, Executive Director of Care4Pastors, suggests the
following for pastoral leaders in his article, 4 Post-COVID Steps Every
Such losses can result in a Pastor Needs to Take:
downward spiral that impacts
our emotions, zeal, and energy • Grieve
ultimately impacting our effec- Grieve your pain of losing family, friends, even church members
tiveness. who have made their exit from your local church. Process your
emotions with someone you trust. The good news, “... LifeWay
Please know, your self-care is Research recently found that 91% of US churchgoers surveyed
important for the physical, men- said they plan to return to the level of in-person, pre-Covid church
tal, emotional and spiritual well- attendance once the threat of the pandemic has waned.”
being as a ministry wife. Find
someone whom you trust and • Refocus
process your losses. Obviously, I This season has forced pastors to consider what is important and
make myself available to you. what is not important. So, refocus, dream, innovate, take risks,
Seek professional help, if need cease ineffective ministries, begin new ones.
One source available to you is Celebrate whatever wins you’ve realized, be it giving, member
Focus on the Family’s Counseling engagement, the discovery of online worship, etc.
HELP (4357) weekdays from • Rest
6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Mountain Vacate. Find a way to refresh. Refocus. Pace yourself. In doing,
Time). Consultations are availa- so your local church will benefit.
ble at NO COST to you due to
generous donor support and will
be with one of their licensed or
pastoral specialist. Please take
care of yourself!. You are loved!
• David expressed at one of the lowest When Sarah Beckman was interviewing people to aid
points of his life that God saw what her in writing the book, Alongside, many cited strong
he was going through, “You keep sentiments regarding what wasn’t helpful as they
track of all my sorrows. You have collected were grieving. Because we are in positions that man-
all my tears in your bottle. You have rec- date a response to those grieving, it would be good
orded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8, to be reminded of their reflections:
NLT). David knew that God never
missed a moment, a tear, or a sigh • When providing meals (which is certainly appro-
from any of His children. We have a priate) don’t deliver dishes that have to be re-
Father who keeps track of every single tear we cry. I have turned. Use disposable containers.
gifted this item to families that have realized significant
losses. It’s a lovely, decorative glass vase with a tag citing • Don’t publicly discuss information the family has
this passage of Scripture. Source: www.maryandmartha.com not made public. If in question, ask what is ap-
(Tears in a Bottle—$30.00) ‘Tears are not a sign of weakness. In propriate to share and when.
fact, crying is an indication of the griever’s willingness to do the ‘work
of mourning’. (Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph. D.) • Rather than say, “Let me know if you need anything,”
inform the family of what you would like to do
• Devotional Books: on their behalf. Generic statements are unhelpful
and put the burden on the individual you desire
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. A book that provides words to assist. Specific offers show that you mean
of reassurance, comfort, and hope written as if Jesus was business. They cite how you desire to make life
speaking to you personally. easier for the person to say ’Yes’ to your offer or
Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado. Reflections to draw
you closer to God as well as understand His direction and • ‘Please don’t forget my struggle.’ Thus the importance
timing. of remembering to connect days, weeks, and
months after a loss. Our goal is to come along-
• Give the gift of GRACE. Yes. Give the gift of grace, lots side of one other and make their challenges more
of grace, especially to the person facing the loss. Emotions bearable. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way
are running high. Offer forgiveness and understanding be- you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, NIV).
cause it’s not about you—it’s about the person who has True service is that which does not look for
lost someone so dear. acknowledgements nor “Thank You’s”.
The following Florida ministry wives recently lost their beloved life partners.
Your card of concern would be a welcomed gift.
BETTY ADKISON (Alcus), P. O. Box 6061, Marianna, FL 32447
MARY HOSKINS (Ruben), 408 Wilmont Ave., Panama City FL 32401
“...encourage one another and build each other up…“ (1 Thess. 5:11).