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Losing My Dad As A Teenager

Grief affects everyone and mourning the loss of a loved one is hard. But do Millennials deal with it differently? And what does it take to get through the stages?



Martin Zerrudo: You are listening to Heart and Soul. A podcast from the Iglesia Ni Cristo, Church of Christ. I’m your host Martin Zerrudo, and I’ll be interviewing young adults from across the world. Who are living Christian lives, but are also dealing with real world problems. This is Heart and Soul

[Show Open]

Martin: Welcome to Heart and Soul. My name is Martin Zerrudo, I’m your host and our guest today is Constance-Joi. Constance-Joi is 31 years old, she’s a registered nurse working in South Atlanta. Enjoys writing, talking with family, baby therapy, which I think is hanging out with your niece Constance-Joi? 

Constance-Joi Calonge: Yup. Yes

Martin: And Capoeira, which I believe is a Brazilian form of martial art right?

Constance-Joi: Yup, you got it!

Martin: There you go, Constance-Joi how are you today?

Constance-Joi: Hey whats up, whats up? I’m good how are you? 

Martin: I’m good, I’m very good, thank you so much. And we also have joining us today Minister of the Gospel, Brother Bob! Hi Brother Bob!

Brother Bob: Greetings to you both! And welcome everyone to this, I believe is it not there Martin the first episode of this season for Heart and Soul?

Martin: It is!

Brother Bob:  Well I’m glad to be with you today.

Martin: Yes, we’re happy to have you on our very first season premiere, our episode for Heart and Soul after we’ve came back. Now for those who have not met the amazing Brother Bob he is an ordained Minister of the Gospel. Host of That’s in the Bible, which can be found on Husband and grandad to five. Former Air Force. And Forever Buffalo Bills Fan. Is that true, forever?

Brother: [Laughter] Oh yes!

Constance-Joi: [Laughter]

Martin: No matter what.

Brother Bob: That’s right.

Martin:  Now the topic of our episode today is, millennials in mourning. Why dealing with grief has gotten easier and also harder. Now millennials as you know continue to get a lot of flack from other generations. You’re too loud, not loud enough, you’re entitled, you’re not working hard not enough, not enough experience, not willing to work for free, you’re lazy. On and on and on and on. Now before we go on Brother Bob, why do you think, as somebody who is not part of the millennial generation, why do you think millennials or young people today get so much flack?

Brother Bob: Well I think I cannot disagree with you there Brother Martin. That they really do get stereotypical perceptions levied upon them. You know? I hear that often from those my age. I’m in my 60’s now. That particular generation, of all generations, is lazier than any other. I cannot deny what you just said there. That they do get that stigmatism levied upon them. But I’m not so sure that it’s always truly warranted you know? That I got five grandchildren. Three of them anyway are in that age bracket. And you know they work hard. I see others working hard.

Martin: Right.

Brother Bob: But then you know, as the saying goes, I don’t know if it’s a modern saying. Might be an old time saying. That one bad apple spoils the whole bunch.

Martin: That’s right

Brother Bob: Sometimes people have a tendency to look at just a handful of those they may know, and give that stereotypical perception levied upon all millennials. Millennials are of the future. They’re going to be running the country and running the world in just a short amount of time here. I guess we better stop talking about them that way. What do you think?

Martin: [Laughter] absolutely. Constance-Joi have you ever experienced that? You know, 31 years old having gone through your teens and your college years, have you gotten that perception from other generations? That maybe, you guys are not doing enough? You’re not working hard enough? You’re entitled.

Constance-Joi:  Totally, yes totally. Especially jumping into the working force. I’ve experienced those perceptions. And I think it’s because our generation of millennials are kind of between worlds or between generations. Like our childhood was carefree free.

Martin: Pre-internet.

Constance-Joi: Pre-internet, exactly! Like we didn’t have the influence of social media. And then when it was introduced to us around pre-teen years or high school years, that’s when things with social media were brand new. We started connecting with other people through different means. And you know, access to knowledge was at our fingertips.

Martin: That’s right.

Brother Bob: That’s one thing that I would not disagree with, okay? That millennials have a challenge interacting with other people, because they spend so much time online and interacting online. Not having to deal with face-to-face communication. That they are no longer adapted to or they are no longer comfortable in social settings. That I would agree with. And I think that has to do with exactly what you just said. That the new world is online.

Constance-Joi: Yeah, I agree completely. Like there’s a lot of people who have a lot of social anxiety. And don’t really know how to take on social cues. And communicate with people face-to-face or talking over the phone. A lot of it is through text. 

Martin:  You know what’s actually interesting? Actually, for a lot of ivy league and for those who are in very scientific or tech intensive majors, they have really great grades. They want to continue their career after they graduate out of these really top schools, but they have to take social classes. To what you are referring to Brother Bob. Is that, they have all the qualifications to get that interview. They get there, they have to look at a human person and interact. And they have absolutely no idea how to convey their skills or their personality to be hired. Because their whole life has been spent looking at a screen, not talking to people.

Brother Bob: Right, right exactly!

Martin: Now for our listeners wherever side you may lean on, in terms of the state of the world. And the generation coming up that’s going to be leading it. What we have to accept of course is that millennials, like all generations, have to deal with grief. And it’s a topic that many our age Constance-Joi, both of us being in our early thirties, sometimes have a hard time talking about. Constance-Joi has come here today to talk about the two kinds of loss that she’s gone through, and the depression and the sadness that came after it. How about we start off with your dad Constance-Joi, tell us a little bit about your relationship with your dad and what came about near the end.

Constance-Joi:  So my life in a nutshell is my family and my faith. Growing up my family was really tight, we were really close. So I grew up very blessed with my dad, my mom, and my two older brothers. And growing up I saw my parents as my superhero’s, I still do. So my dad he was the life of the party. He told all the corny dad jokes. He was the king of those cheesy dad jokes. We would watch movies all the time. And I remember this one movie we watched was Meet Joe Black. Do you know that movie?

Martin: Yes, with Brad Pitt. 

Constance-Joi:  Yea, I loved those kind of movies. We got up to the box office and my dad’s like ‘Hello there! I’d like to meet Joe Black at seven o’clock’ [laughter] 

Martin: [laughter]

Constance-Joi:  And like clap his knee. And I’m just like, oh my gosh corny dad joke. But it was like my favorite you know? And we would sing karaoke together. We would sing all the duets together, like the Natalie Cole or Nat King Cole songs.

Martin: Unforgettable?

Constance-Joi:  Yea. And he taught me how to Cha Cha to Stevie Wonder’s  My Cherie Amour. 

Martin:  Wow.

Constance-Joi:  And my childhood was filled with moments like that. Was filled with so much love for my dad.

Martin: What would you say is the first memory that you have of your father?

Constance-Joi: The first memory that I have of my dad was, him sitting my brothers and me down after Church. And speaking to us about a Bible story. And it was, I think it was about, he told us a lot of Bible stories. So he got us really excited to learn about our faith that way through stories. And he was a great storyteller. And so I just remember him really putting an emphasis on what our faith is and what it means to be a Christian. What it means to be a member of the Church Of Christ. And applying those things in our life.

Martin: What would he say?

Constance-Joi: He mentioned to us how God performs miracles in our lives. Maybe not in the same way that he did in Moses’s time, parting of the Red Sea and all that. But if we open our eyes and if we realize the blessings in our lives, it’s God’s miracles in our lives. So that was one of the many lessons that he taught me growing up. Other memories that I had of him, especially in Church or faith related was, he was a deacon in our Church and he was an overseer. So he would always bring me along with him to visit the brethren. 

Martin:  Oh wow.

Constance-Joi: And I was still in Children Worship service. A little shy, a little kid. And he would assign me to pray for the first prayer of our meetings. And I would be so scared.

Martin: How old where you at the time?

Constance-Joi: I was only maybe 6 or 7 years old. 

Martin: Wow.

Constance-Joi: He would tell me, “Don’t be scared to pray. Don’t be scared to talk to God. It’s a blessing. It’s a good thing to talk to God. Don’t be scared.” So, it really brought me out of my shell. It helped me with public speaking. It helped me connect with people, being able to pray for them. My dad instilled that in me. And he instilled in me the love of the brotherhood because I would see see him interacting with the brethren, and really asking them ‘How are you?’ And really listening and really caring about what they say.

Martin: Right, right. What about your first couple of years going into high school? Grades 9, it’s a lot of pressure. Did he give you any kind of dad talks before you entered into that new stage of your life?

Constance-Joi: So going into high school I remember him giving me that boy talk. 


Martin: [Laughter]. What did he say? 

Constance-Joi: He asked me, he said, “What do you think is the greatest test of love?” And I said, “I don’t know, distance? Distance makes the heart grow fonder?” 

Martin: That’s what you told him at 14? [laughter]

Constance-Joi: [laughter] Yea, yea. And then my dad said, “Nope.” And I was like, “I don’t know, fighting?” 

Martin: [laughter]

Constance-Joi:  “Going through arguments and getting through those fights together?” And he was like, “Nope.” And I said, “I don’t know daddy, I don’t know what.” And then he said, “Time. Time is the greatest test for love. Because if you start out really falling for someone, having those feelings for them. And then as time passes, things will happen. Only time will tell.”

Martin: And how did you take that advice at 14?

Constance-Joi: Well I didn’t I didn’t realize what he was saying, until I actually experienced it. So he told me that time will tell. And then if it doesn’t work out in the end then, at least it wasn’t a waste of time. Because you learn what you don’t want in a relationship or you learn from that experience. And then if it does work out in the end then it was all worth the wait. And not only our time, but in God’s time.

Martin: Right.

Constance-Joi: So yeah. So that was one of the, again, one of the many things that I’ve taken from, advice from my dad. So, time and patiently enduring. Especially God’s time will test our love.

Martin: When did you guys find out?

Constance-Joi: So when I was 15 years old, my dad was rushed to the emergency room. He was having symptoms. And he was really young, he was 39 years old at the time. So the symptoms that he was experiencing the doctors didn’t think that it was cancer related, or we didn’t have to worry about cancer at all because he was young. 

Martin: What were the symptoms?

Constance-Joi: He was bleeding and it abdominal pain and everything. So they ran some tests and then they found a huge mass in his colon. I remember when my mom and dad found out and they brought me and my brothers inside his hospital room. They were very lighthearted about it and they wanted to show to us that we had nothing to worry about. They didn’t want us to be scared, they, especially my mom, thought it would just be another bump in the road that our family would have to go through.

Martin: What was that conversation like? What did they say?

Constance-Joi: Well my dad being the joker that he is he showed us a picture of that mass. And he said look at this, I have an alien in my body. Haha. It was an awkward laugh, like haha, but that’s really scary. But I understand, they just wanted us to not worry. They didn’t want us to be scared. So we followed their lead. We didn’t worry because we knew that God was on our side. We knew that we had our family prayers. We had our support system with our extended family. And in the Church Of Christ we ask for anointing of oil from the elders. 

Martin: Right.

Constance-Joi: And they pray for us. We did all of that throughout his treatment. After that diagnosis, they planned for surgery. 

Martin: Right.

Constance-Joi:  After that surgery was the treatment, the radiation, the chemotherapy.

Martin: What was the prayer like? That day after you found the mass in the stomach. 

Constance-Joi: The prayer was just full of faith. That we were just, we did not doubt at all that God will heal him.

Martin: Right.

Constance-Joi: That we would survive this, and we would just keep on keeping on. After the surgery after, throughout the treatment. We move back to California to be with our extended family. And our extended family there in San Pablo. And we would have family devotional prayers, family anointing of oil at the chapel. 

Martin: How often?

Constance-Joi: We would do it once a week. And then especially if my dad some sort of test or procedure we do it through every day, throughout the week.

Martin: How was that for you as a high school student? Moving to a new school. Knowing your dad was undergoing the treatment. What was going to school like? What were the thoughts in your mind while all of this was happening? 

Constance-Joi: So going to school, it really wasn’t a new school because I lived in California before we had moved to Las Vegas and then back to California. So I still had my friends that I had in middle school. And I didn’t really talk to them about what my dad was experiencing. I spoke with my cousins about it. Because they were like my brothers and sisters.

Martin: Right, right.

Constance-Joi:  And they saw my dad as a second parent. So we were experiencing this altogether as a family. But in regards to school I didn’t really focus on school at the time, it wasn’t really a priority in my life. And I just cared about my family. Just going through the motions because I had to go to school. That’s like my job as a kid. But I wasn’t really into academics until college.

Martin: Right. So the treatments where happening. Where there signs that it was getting better, or were there signs that he wasn’t getting better?

Constance-Joi: After a year it seemed like he was gaining more weight. He was looking very healthy. And looking like he was healthy and happy and back to normal.

Martin: Was he bed ridden? He was able to move around or?

Constance-Joi: He was able to move around. He looked great, he looked like he was healing. It felt like he was healing. And then maybe like a year after his first surgery, they did another imaging test and they saw that the cancer had spread to other organs. And then at that time I think it wasn’t so lighthearted anymore, it was more serious. We didn’t expect for this news. We expected for those results to show that he was completely healed and in remission. And we just had to keep up with the treatment.

Martin: Can you walk us through that day? How you guys found out? Where were you? And what did they say?

Constance-Joi: So, after that time when my parents told us that the cancer had spread, we continued our devotional prayers. And we continued to have this faith. God will show miracles in our lives, just like what my dad taught me when I was younger. And from then my dad had another surgery because his condition was getting worse, it wasn’t getting better from there. So he had another surgery. Then he wasn’t responding to the regular regiment of treatment, so he signed up for clinical trials. And then he continued to get worse from there. So I would go with my mom and dad to his appointments. And then this one day I was with them, he met with his oncologist. So one day…[Soft crying]

Martin: It’s ok.

Constance-Joi:  So one day my mom and I went with my dad to his appointment to meet with his oncologist again. And in that appointment the doctor just broke the news and told my dad he only had a few months to live.

Brother Bob: That must have been quite hard I suppose.

Constance-Joi: It was something I’ve never experienced or never seen my parents go through. Because like I said earlier my parents are my superheroes. When you’re young you see your parents as these powerful superhuman people, nothing can touch them. And then that day I saw my dad cry for the first time. And I saw him for being human and I realized this was something really serious. And my mom like strong as she is, she is a rock, and she was still by my dads’ side. Still comforting him saying that it’ll be ok. And I still, in my heart, I still hoped against all hope, and I still prayed to God that He’ll perform a miracle. That’s what we continued to do. And when we got home that day, my dad called his mom, his brothers and sisters, all my cousins. And all my family was gathered in my house. And my dad shared the news with them, that the doctor told him he only was given and limited amount of time. And the whole room was just so full of sadness and tears. And I remember everybody was in our family room and I was just sitting on our stairs. Just watching everyone break down and cry. And I was crying too but I still, in my heart, I was like no. No. He is not. He is not going to die. And then my dad said to all of us, he said today we cry, but tomorrow is a new day. And I want all of you to smile and be happy because we still have this time together. And he said I don’t want you to remember me in this sickly state. I don’t want you to remember me this way. I want you to remember me as the man who loves all of you.

Martin: Right.

Constance-Joi: And we listen to my dad. And in the darkest saddest times, for some reason, some way somehow my family is able to turn things around. And find a way to still laugh about things and enjoy life. We had our family get togethers, our family parties, with our soul food. And again we continued to pray as a family. During that time the doctor told us he had maybe six months to live. When in reality he only has like two months.

Martin: Oh man. 

Constance-Joi: And then as his condition continued to get worse [sighs]. I just remember sitting in the choir loft and seeing my dad in the back row with his oxygen. He still continued to attend worship service. And I know before then he was still performing as a deacon as much as he could. Still perform his duties until he just physically couldn’t anymore. That’s what I remember the most. Is even though he was physically dwindling and becoming more weak, his spirit was the strongest ever. So that’s what I remember. In those moments when he was about to pass away he was placed on home hospice, so he was able to be with us at home. My family and I were all together. We were able to speak with him and tell him how much we loved him. And even then, even then I was still.

Martin: Hopeful?

Constance-Joi:  I was still hopeful. I would still pray for God, “I know this is just a test of our faith. I know we just need to trust in You. I know we just need to keep praying and then You’ll come through for us. You’ll heal him, You’ll perform a miracle.” And then I remember before my dad passed away when he was very, very, sick he said, don’t ever blame God for the things that we go through in this life. Because this life isn’t ours. It belongs to God. If God wants to take it back, then so be it. And then he told us this life isn’t all that we have. Our true home is in the Holy City, it’s in heaven. So we just need to hold onto our faith so we can see each other again. He also taught me about prayer. Ever since I was young, he was always teaching me about prayer. Even in his last days he said, even if God doesn’t answer our prayers right away, or he doesn’t respond with an answer that we want, does that mean we’re going to stop praying to Him? Does that mean we’re going to stop loving Him? And of course, no. All the more we need to trust God and show God that we love Him, by always praying to Him and worship Him no matter what. He taught me that, he said, “love God no matter what.”

Martin: It was one of the last things that he said to you?

Constance-Joi: Yes. It was July 13, 2004. I woke up instantly to crying, wailing. Loud mournful tears falling from everybody’s eyes. I ran downstairs and saw just everyone crying. Because my dad had passed away in his sleep. I said to myself, this is it. This is what my dad was talking about. I didn’t understand, I didn’t understand why God would take a life that was so faithful, so good. Only God knows and I had to listen to my dad. I can’t be angry at God for taking his life. I can’t stop loving God just because he didn’t answer my prayer, that was in my heart this whole time. So, I said this is what my dad was talking about.

Brother Bob: Your dad was really correct, Constance-Joi. When he told you that you have to accept Gods answer, it’s not that He did not answer. It’s just that He did not give the answer that you were hoping for. When that particular request that you and your family had, God’s answer was, “No, that’s not the plan. That’s not My will.” Obviously, God had a different plan. And as hard as that was for you, it fulfilled the plan and will of God for all of you in whatever way God intended. By the way Sister Constance-Joi thank you so much for sharing that story, because it’s not only you that experience such kind of grief. There are many who may be joining us in this podcast that have experienced a similar kind of sadness. 

Martin: Definitely.

Brother Bob: You sharing your story so openly and with that raw essence of emotion that you included, it’s helpful to them. To know that they are not alone in sharing that kind of grief that they experienced. But I want to share a story with Constance-Joi and others who may have experienced that. There was a time before I was an ordained minister, which was obviously decades ago. You can imagine how many years ago it was. But nevertheless, the moment remains fresh in my mind, like it was yesterday. 

There was a couple close to us and they had been for so many years trying to have children and they were not able. And then finally God gave them a child. But the child was born with a heart defect. And was born and needed surgery right away, and then needed surgery again when the child was 2 years old. So they had two years of various medical appointments and all of that. And they were going through all of that, but they were just so happy to have their brand-new baby boy in their life. And they went to have a third surgery. This was all predicted right at the beginning, it would be a 3-surgery process. First 2 surgeries went very well, the third did not. The little boy was very sick and scared. The medical personnel all told the parents that, I’m sorry, nothing more they can do here. Your little boy got only, a very short moment, even, to live.  You could imagine how traumatic that was. I was there with them in the ICU. The hospital was so nice, they brought in this little rocking chair. And the family had no choice, but they disconnected all of the various life support connections and this and that. And they told the couple, your baby boy with live for maybe two, at the most three minutes. He will just gradually just go to sleep and pass away. 

So they unhook the baby boy and gave the boy in the arms of the Mother. And she sat in that rocking chair and rocked that little baby. And the 2 minutes passed by and it was approaching the third minute. And everybody was expecting the little boy would stop breathing. And then 3 minutes passed. Everybody starts looking at each other a little bit. You can see in the eyes of the parents, oh boy maybe God is answering a miraculous request for a miracle here. 4 minutes came. 5 minutes passed, that little boy is still breathing. 6 minutes, 7 minutes passed. 8 minutes, well by 8 minutes you can just imagine the excitement. This boy totally disconnected from all the life support. No breathing tubes, whatever else they do when the connect all those things. And 8 minutes pass that boy is breathing pass. 9 minutes pass. The excitement of those parents was just filling the air. Oh my goodness. 10 minutes pass. That boy is still breathing on his own. 11 minutes. 12 minutes passed and the boy stops breathing and passes away. 

Well the parents, the mother specifically, you know there are several moments of grief and tears. And they’re turning to me they want me to have every possible answer to every imaginable question, relative to the emotions that they’re feeling. And they’re asking me questions like “Why? Was God joking? Was God just harassing us? Why did he put us through this?”. You know the family remained very loyal and faithful to God, just the way Constance-Joi you were saying that in spite of God saying no to their request, they too remained faithful to God, believing and trusting that what God was doing in their life was in accordance to His will. What I witnessed in the experience of the passing of that little baby boy, everybody was changed. Sometimes people ask, “Why would a child die so early in life? That child didn’t do anything wrong. What’s the purpose then of that baby’s life?” That baby’s life and that baby’s death changed every single one of us that were involved in that moment. It changed the mother, it changed the father, it changed me. The experience enhanced us in so many different ways and gave us capacities to have empathy in ways we never even could have imagined prior to that. The baby’s purpose and intent for living was fulfilled. It accomplished its intended purpose in the overall picture of God. 

You Constance-Joi and others joining the program have been changed. Molded in accordance to the will of God, in ways that you may not even see. And that couple that experienced that, as I witnessed so many decades ago, was also changed. And in many good ways. By the way, even though they were not able to have children for such a long time in their life. God did give them another child soon thereafter, who was healthy and strong and continues to grow faithfully until now. Allow me to read this Brother Martin from the holy scriptures. John 16, 20 and 22 reads this way:

I can guarantee this truth: You will cry because you are sad, but the world will be happy. You will feel pain, but your pain will turn to happiness. Now you’re in a painful situation. But I will see you again. Then you will be happy, and no one will take that happiness away from you. 

[John 16:20,22 God’s Word Translation]

Brother Bob: That’s the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. He knows we’re going to experience these things in this life. But He promises, also to you Constance-Joi, and to everyone experiencing great and deep sadness, to that couple I just mentioned, happiness is promised by the One who can truly give it in the time and in accordance to His will. We should never lose sight of that.

Martin:  And hearing those words thank you so much Brother Bob and for sharing that story.

Constance-Joi: Thank you so much.

Martin: I guess in a way, they did get a miracle in that they got an extra 10 minutes that the doctors didn’t expect to happen. Just a little bit more time with the little boy than they thought they were going to have.

Brother Bob:  Absolutely.

Martin: And so, knowing that, Constance-Joi what was it like, your father had passed away, how were you able to persevere? What were those nights like knowing that your dad had passed away?

Constance-Joi: So I was blessed with 17 years of receiving that love from my dad and having those special memories. Not a lot of people get to have that much time with their parents. So I understood that with that limited amount of time that I had, I had that infinite amount of love and memories that I can cherish with my dad. Grieving is definitely not linear, and it’s not that step by step process. Have you heard of the stages of grief? 

Martin: Yes.

Constance-Joi: Like denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. So losing my dad, it was very, very difficult. Because that one person that you want to go to for advice, that one person that you want to go to for comfort is not there anymore. 

Martin: Absolutely.

Constance-Joi: My family had to navigate through those feelings of grief together and also individually.

Martin: According to studies, San Diego State University they show that having limited family proximity that are close to you can actually lead to anxiety and depression. They point this study more towards millennials because whether losing a parent, non traditional households where you only have one parent or you don’t have any parents at all or high divorce rates which are impacting millennials more so than other generations. The lack of having somebody there to go to has actually led to a lot of millennials or young people to anxiety and depression. Would that relate more to your situation?

Constance-Joi: Absolutely, yes. Because one of the last life advice that my dad gave, I remember that day when my dad found out that he didn’t have much time to live and he told our entire family, today we cry but tomorrow we’re going to smile. We’re going to keep on living. Remember me not in this way but in my strong healthy presence and know that I know you all. I wanted to listen to my dad so much. I wanted to just remember him in that way. I didn’t allow myself to remember him going through that process of being physically weak.

Martin: Right.

Constance-Joi: I didn’t allow myself to remember him that way because I didn’t want to let my dad down. I wanted to, I said I cried, I’m going to smile, I’m just going to push through it just like my dad taught me. But that really caught up to me because there were years before I would even have the capability to talk about my dad without crying. Whenever I would talk about my dad, I would just start balling. I didn’t allow myself the time to process everything that happened, what it all meant to me.

Martin: What would you say was your lowest of lows, where you were like “This is it, I’m depressed, I can’t even process, I can’t handle this”?

Constance-Joi: Honestly, after my dad passed away, I went through waves of depression every year. And I just thought that that was my new normal. There would be months at a time when I would be depressed, and I wouldn’t realize it. And I didn’t have that insight into what I was experiencing just thought I’m just going through it again, it will pass. So, I think once the feelings of depression infiltrated other aspects of my life, I was in college, my school work was messed up. I was feeling really anxious every time I performed my duties at church. My relationships, I was being more withdrawn. It just really affected everything that I did.

Martin: Did somebody ever come up to you and like “Hey are you ok? Do you need somebody to talk to?” Or was it all internal reflection like, “Hey something is wrong with me.”

Constance-Joi: It was all an internal reflection. And actually, my mom knows my heart and she knows what’s up. My lowest of lows my highest of highs, my mom was there.

Martin: And what did she say to you?

Constance-Joi: She understood, because she was going through the exact same things and probably like a million, trillion times more. So she took me by the hand, she drove me to the beach and she’s like yell, yell at the water. We did that together. She taught me about not being stuck. She helped me really drag myself out of this hole.

Martin: Right, right.

Constance-Joi: I mean it did help for sure. But there were even times when I would be in it even deeper. Because grieving, it was just an emotional rollercoaster. I went to the doctor and I’m like I think I’m going crazy. 

Martin: Because of your grief?

Constance-Joi: Yes. I spoke with a mental health professional and I was able to put a face and a name to what I was going through. 

Martin: What was the face? What was the name?

Constance-Joi: It was recurrent major depressive disorder. I was able to say, “Ok!” Because I was diagnosing myself with all this other stuff.

Martin: Webmd. Dangerous.

Constance-Joi: [Laughter] I was able to just say, “Ok, that’s it. The more you know about it the more you’re not scared of it and the more you can just face it full on and not run from it. Ok yes, I am depressed.”

Martin: For our listeners who may be able to relate to Constance-Joi’s situation, how can we help them out?

Brother Bob: Well you and I Martin cannot help them out. Because it’s really only God who can do that and He tells us when He will do that. For Constance-Joi and for anyone going through such kind of things that she has, which are so deeply penetrating in the realm of grief, we could say to them you and I Martin, just press on. Just go on. But the only one who could really give the strength and the guidance is of course the Lord. So I’ll read a couple verses from the Lord’s words. Which say, for example, Proverbs 14 verse 13 in the Expanded rendition of the Scriptures reads this way:

Someone who is laughing may be sad inside [L Even in laughter the heart may feel pain], and joy may end in sadness.

[Proverbs 14:13 Expanded]

Brother Bob: Sister Constance-Joi maybe you have yourself, along with other listeners, may have experienced and this may even be describing some of your nights. Psalms chapter 6 verse 6, reads this way:

I am worn out with grief; every night my bed is damp from my weeping; my pillow is soaked with tears.

[Psalms 6:6 Good News Translation]

Brother Bob: I think probably everyone who has experienced such deep grieving that you have, may be easily able to identify with Psalms chapter 6 verse 6 where it describes the deep weeping and tears. But here’s the thing. Yes, Martin and I we have no solution for you. However, consider this prophecy of Isaiah or the words of God recorded in Isaiah 65, 17 to 19 which says this:

“Pay close attention now: I’m creating new heavens and a new earth. All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain are things of the past, to be forgotten. Look ahead with joy. Anticipate what I’m creating: I’ll create Jerusalem as sheer joy, create my people as pure delight. I’ll take joy in Jerusalem, take delight in my people: No more sounds of weeping in the city, no cries of anguish;

[Isaiah 65:17-19 The Message]

Brother Bob: Constance-Joi, that is a description of what we will feel in the Holy City. It will be sheer joy. But the Lord acknowledges in this life there will be moments of deep pain and sorrow. But those things will be forgotten and that’s what everyone should realize. The solution is making it safe to the Holy City where those things don’t exist anymore. They are replaced with the sheer joy of the Lord’s promises. So, don’t let anything derail your continued journey to the kingdom of God as loyal faithful members of the Church Of Christ serving the Lord. And we welcome all the guests maybe that are joining the podcast. Continue to listen, continue to join in and join other programs here inside the Church Of Christ. Where we feel the embrace and comfort of God who continues to watch over all of us, inside the Church. God bless you Constance for your perseverance and for that of your family and all that you’ve been through.

Constance-Joi: Thank you Brother Bob.

Martin: Thank you so much Brother Bob for those really applicable, spiritual, and also practical words from God and teachings from our Lord Jesus Christ. And so now we turn to a study here from UC Davis saying that young adults from 17-24, “When someone turns 18, they don’t magically become an adult. The brain is still developing, and a lot of irrational things happen. Add grief to that and things kind of blow up.” And they say the challenge is on social media with that constant digital connection is “One minute they’re getting a text saying I’m so sorry for your loss. And the next is hey, want to go for a movie?  It’s bad enough that we think grief should end in 3 to 4 days but with social media it’s reduced to 15 minutes.” So Constance-Joi, of this generation who pre-internet, now with the abundance of social media. Has it made dealing with grief easier or dealing with grief a little harder?

Constance-Joi: From my experience, I did share memories of my dad on my social media and it gave me a way to connect with people who also shared memories with my dad. So, there was definitely that benefit of connection with people who also share the same grief and the same love for those who are lost. I definitely see the benefits of social media. Even more so in the way that I was able to really connect with people outside of social media. I was able to really talk with my close friends and my family.

Martin: So it helped a little bit.

Constance-Joi: It did help a little bit but even more so was the connection in person. Most importantly the spiritual connections with God. I was able to pray, pray harder, pray more.

Martin: Did you feel like there was a pressure? Alluding to the verse that Brother Bob said that on social media you have to be bubbly, you have to show that you’re ok and that if you had lingered too long or perceived lingering through your posts that people would think you’re not getting over it that you’re not moving forward?

Constance-Joi: Definitely I feel that there is that pressure. But again, I was able to grow up in a time when there wasn’t social media. So I’m able to detach from social media whenever I want to. So, I’m able to just deactivate for a few months, and have a social media detox. We exude this energy of being bubbly or being happy all the time. And especially as a nurse I give a lot of energy to my work. I also give a lot of energy towards my duties. The types of things that I do in my life and like the relationships that I have with my family and my friends, they also reciprocate rejuvenating energy back.

Martin: Give energy back.

Constance-Joi: Right. There are times when I give and give and give all my energy away and I fail to acknowledge, I fail to remember, that I need to re-energize myself. And I need to gain it back through self care. 

Martin: Real quickly what would be 3 things self care that you would use?

Constance-Joi: Exercise.

Martin: Got it, I’m failing on that one. Ok number 2.

Constance-Joi: [Laughter] Dude me too. I got to get back into my capoeira. Ok number 2. Relationships. Make time for the ones that you love. Cherish that time, love one another.

Martin: And number 3?

Constance-Joi: Prayer. Connection with God. That has been my saving grace because no matter what happened in my life, God has always came through for me and really did show His miracles in my life.

Martin: And there you have it. If you feel like as a young adult you’re listening to this thinking that the deck has been stacked against you. You may be living in a home where you don’t have somebody immediately to turn to. You grew up in a household or in an environment where you felt isolated. Going on social media you felt pressured to be a certain way. Self care. Taking the time to really take care of yourself. Reflect on where you want to go in your spiritual journey in life and the huge role that prayer and God’s words can really help. Brother Bob any other closing words?

Brother Bob: Well I’m really glad Constance-Joi did mention prayer because there was a statement that I had in my mind when you were asking that question and it’s from the book of Psalms 18:, verse 6 it says:

I called on the LORD in my distress. I cried to my God for help. He heard my voice from his temple, and my cry for help reached his ears.

[Psalms 18:6 God’s Word Translation]

Brother Bob: I think Martin that prayer is the valuable asset that we have. And one thing that was mentioned in this verse was prayer from the temple. And we know we go to the temple the house of worship at times of our worship services. So, go there, bring to God our distress, our sorrows, our grief. It’s there where He is promising to help. You know with regard to the social media element you guys were discussing, I think Martin people go to social media because they think it opens up doors to other elements of life and the world that may not be around them in their neighborhood in their homes.

Martin: Vicariously.

Brother Bob: Yes. The doors to the world are open on the internet. It may not really be so. Because as we all know, and I don’t anybody would deny the reality that not everything on the internet is real.

Martin: [Laughter] Fake news.

Brother Bob: Yes, as the whole fake news and it’s not only news that’s not real, people are not always real. It’s a pretty slippery slope to put your trust on opening the doors to the world by means of the internet. However, to all social media enthusiasts who may attempt to open the doors of the world by means of the internet, consider instead Psalms 34, 9, Message rendition of the scripture is worded this way. I quote:

Worship God if you want the best;

worship opens doors to all his goodness.

[Psalms 34:9 The Message]

Brother Bob: Well how about that. Worshipping is what will truly open the doors to healing, comfort, companionship. To strength, hope, courage for whatever tomorrow may bring. And we all know tomorrow may bring new hurdles or obstacles or even sorrows. But worshiping the one true God will open the doors to all of his goodness. And I think nobody will deny that we all need that. Life is challenging. For example, consider Psalms 42, 3 before we finish up there Martin, verses 5, 4, and even verse 8 as well it reads together this way:

Day and night my tears, are my only food, as everyone keeps asking, “Where is your God?” 

Why am I discouraged? Why am I restless? I trust you! And I will praise you again because you help me,

Sorrow floods my heart, when I remember leading the worshipers to your house. I can still hear them shout their joyful praises.

Every day, you are kind, and at night you give me a songs my prayer to you, the living Lord God.

[Psalms 42:3,5,4,8]

Brother Bob: Point being there, God is our strength and hope. Everyone who is experiencing it’s seems, forgive if I’m putting additional words in your mouth Constance-Joi, but it seems to me that you yourself have acquired much strength and courage by means of your faith and trust in God. In spite of the deep sorrows that have happened in your life. And all others who may be joining the podcast who are experiencing similar things or other kinds of sorrows can also follow the footsteps of Constance-Joi in trusting God, praying always. Being with us in the Church, worshiping God in the temple or the house or worship and receiving the spiritual hugs of grace He provides to his loyal and faithful people. Do that, and you won’t be disappointed. That would be the advice I would give to everyone Brother Martin. 

Martin: And definitely a kind of advice, no matter how old you are or where you are in life or what you may be going through, definitely applicable in your time of need. We want to thank you so much Constance-Joi for coming on our show, having the courage to share with us your experiences. Constance, thank you so much.

Constance-Joi: If I could just reach one person who can also benefit from my story then I would love to have that opportunity, so thank you so much for this opportunity. 

Martin: Thank you we really appreciate it so much.

Constance-Joi: I love Heart & Soul.

Martin: [Laughter] A big thank you to Brother Bob as well. He’s really the one who’s championing the show for coming back, so thank you so much Brother Bob for sharing spiritual guidance.

Brother Bob: Sure Brother Martin.

Martin: And for all of you, our listeners. If you’re going through some lows, some really hard times, know that it’s ok, and that you deserve to be better. If right now you need immediate help, immediate attention, to have someone to listen to what you’re going through and you’re living in the United States, the National Suicide Prevention line 1-(800) 273-8255. It’s open 24/7. Please give them a call. Any kind of emotional crisis please give them a call they’re there to help. And if you’re listening from Canada, Crisis Services Canada 1-(833) 456-4566. Now above all, if you’re looking to continue your spiritual journey and you’re listening to us for the first time, and you have questions about how true faith can help you in your day to day life please email us at day or night, we’ll be there for you and your questions. Please follow our hashtag on instagram, #heartandsoulconversations and that’s it from us today. Hope you’ll join us next time, ready to listen with all your heart and soul. Take care.