One way that I cope with sorrow and tragedy, such as the recent shootings at the elementary school in Connecticut, but also with the stress that comes from my occupation, is by writing. A famous quote comes to mind: “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein” (Walter W. Smith). I find that writing helps me deal with sorrow, and questions of life and death. So, I’ve done a good bit of writing lately. It’s one of the ways I empty my bucket.

One day, when I was a student chaplain, we were discussing the importance (and necessity) of somehow being able to process all of the sorrow, the sickness and death that we saw and experienced while working at the hospital. One of the students said that it was like having a bucket into which we fit all of our emotions. Eventually the bucket fills up and if we don’t do something to empty it, the bucket – our emotions – overflow, causing all kinds of difficulties for us (and those around us). I like that image. I might add, it’s really important to be able to identify when your bucket is nearing capacity, so that you can take steps to empty it.

Reading Scripture and listening to music are also important ways in which I deal with stress or trauma; or taking a walk through my neighborhood, or, when weather permits it, working in my yard. I am able to provide effective spiritual and emotional care for patients and their families because I maintain my own spiritual and emotional health.

Additionally, I draw great strength and resource from my faith. Scripture tells us that as Christians, we “do not grieve as those who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians. 4:13). Our hope, even in death, which appears to us to be the final enemy, is found in the One who defeated death…the One who said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). These are verses to which I cling – the promise that no matter how crazy the world becomes, or how difficult the situation – there is One who is able to speak peace, even amid the storm.

May your Christmas and New Year be blessed. May your storms be few. May the Prince of Peace be your constant companion. And may your bucket be emptied often.


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Kim Chafee

I am a lover of the God who sings! I am a Christ-follower and an ordained minister married to the other Rev. Chafee (Scott), with two grown children and a multitude of pets. And, I love chocolate. Read more about me and the reason for this blog on my ABOUT page.

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