The Broken Pack™: Stories of Adult Sibling Loss

Sibling Loss, Death Rituals, and Grieving Publicly: Kent / JH

March 15, 2023 Dr. Angela Dean / Kent Chevalier Season 1 Episode 10
The Broken Pack™: Stories of Adult Sibling Loss
Sibling Loss, Death Rituals, and Grieving Publicly: Kent / JH
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Sibling Loss, Death Rituals, and Grieving Publicly

On this episode of the podcast, The Broken Pack: Stories of Adult Sibling Loss, Dr. Dean talks with surviving sibling,  pastor and chaplain Kent Chevalier about his grief experience of sibling loss: losing his brother, JH, to COVID-19. Kent is on staff with Athletes in Action serving as the Chaplain of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

  • Kent describes the difficulty of grieving  his brother in the midst of a pandemic.
  • He describes how setting boundaries in his mourning period and learning to ask for help were difficult and necessary given his public roles.
  • In processing his sibling loss related grief, Kent shares how many grief rituals kept him and others from truly processing grief and how he believes they can reinforce unhealthy beliefs about death.

Additional key points:

  • Kent describes how processing grief through written expression and through an intensive grief therapy helped him learn to efficiently experience grief bursts.
  • Together, Dr. Dean and Kent explore the pressure for  helpers and leaders to be the ones helping others, making it difficult for them to accept assistance. 

To learn more about Kent and his work including his podcast, please go to his website: https://www.teamchevalier.com/home

Support the show

If you would like more information or to share your own adult sibling loss story, please contact me, Dr. Angela Dean, at contact@thebrokenpack.com or go to our website, thebrokenpack.com.

Please like, subscribe, and share!

Please follow us on social media:
Facebook: @BrokenPack
Instagram: @thebrokenpack
TikTok: @the_broken_pack
YouTube: @thebrokenpack

Sign-up for Wild Grief™, our newsletter: https://thebrokenpack.com/newsletter

Thank you!

Angela M. Dean, PsyD, FT

Credits:

The Broken Pack™ Podcast is produced by 27 Elephants Media

"If Tomorrow Starts Without Me" © ℗ 2023, 2024
Written by Joe Mylward and Brian Dean
Performed by Fuji Sounds (feat. MYLWD.)
Licensed for use by The Broken Pack™

Dr. Dean:

Hello and welcome to the Broken Pack, a podcast focused on giving adult survivors of sibling loss, a platform to share their stories and to be heard. Something that many sibling loss survivors state that they never have had. Sibling loss is misunderstood. The broken Pack exists to change that and to support survivors. I'm your host, Dr. Angela Dean. Today is our next to last episode, the next episode's coming out on March 27th. Thank you for listening so far. I am floored and humbled by the worldwide audience that we have built. Thank you so much. In today's episode, I talk with Kent He has many different roles and I really enjoyed talking to him about death rituals, what it was like for him to mourn rather publicly given some of his roles. What it was like for him to struggle with the difference between intellect and heart and faith, and putting that all together in his grief process, but also changes in the family dynamic. So without further ado, here's today's discussion All right, so thanks for joining us today, Kent. I was just wondering if you could tell me and the listeners a little bit about you,

Kent:

Absolutely. Well, thank you for having me on. I love the fact that I am gonna call you Dr. Dean. I love this.

Dr. Dean:

You can call me Angela. That's fine.

Kent:

Yeah. I love it. there's something, I mean, to be able to accomplish what you've accomplished Anyway, Kent Chevalier Pastor for over 25 years now. married to Erica. we've been married almost 24 years. and we together have three daughters and they are 21, almost 21, 19 and almost 15, which is crazy. and now I

Dr. Dean:

crazy. I remember them. A little

Kent:

Yeah. It, it's unbelievable. And now I have the, I have the privilege to, serve on a group called Athletes in Action. As a chaplain, in the N F L and, here in Pittsburgh, absolutely love being able to do that for my hometown team. So it's a real privilege.

Dr. Dean:

Nice. wow. I can't believe the girls are that one. I guess it makes sense.

Kent:

Well, Maddie's, she's at Waynesburg. Kale is with, YWAM right now, youth with a Mission. she's on their outreach. she is in Let's. They're in like eight different cities in Mexico over the next three months, and I think she's in Monterey, Mexico right now. And then Ainsley is a freshman in high school, so we were at her basketball game last night having a lot of fun.

Dr. Dean:

thanks for joining us and sharing about your . Family. Before we dive into your story of loss, I'm just wondering what you wanted to share with me and the listeners about JH.

Kent:

Absolutely. loved j h he, you know, obviously my big brother. we come from a broken family. so j was with me basically like half of the time from what I re, remember. and J was always the guy that taught me, essentially how to throw a ball. Baseball, football. We were always playing something. and everybody loved my brother. I had jokingly always referred to him as the mayor because we couldn't go anywhere without somebody knowing him and absolutely loving him. So j h very much was the glue to our broken family. he kept all the different sides, together and appeasing and, all of that. huge Steelers fan. Huge Pirates fan, huge Pens fan. I absolutely miss, those, those moments where I, I can't text them anymore, with the, talks of the pirates and who they're getting and all of that stuff. So I miss, I miss that for sure, but huge sports guy and, he would, so I'll just say this, incredible husband to mandy Incredible dad to his two boys and, an absolutely incredible brother, uncle, to, brother to me and my, my wife and Erica, or excuse me, my wife Erica, and then an incredible uncle to my three daughters. just, he was that guy.

Dr. Dean:

Mm-hmm., how much older was he?

Kent:

six and some then.

Dr. Dean:

Hmm? Yeah. Do you have other siblings too?

Kent:

Yeah. Shannon. Shannon and I, same mom and dad, j h different.

Dr. Dean:

So it sounds like you were pretty close.

Kent:

Yeah. it was, it was interesting growing up, because, the, the whole custody thing, and I didn't understand that back then, but the custody agreement was, he, I think he chose to go live with his dad, and would visit us on the weekend.. But then during the summer, it was like he spent every other week kind of thing. yeah, very close with him. When, when he lived at our house, I shared a bedroom with him. yeah, got, super close to him. And, and he was, I mean, we, we talked almost every day, via text in the, adult years. yeah, miss 'em, miss 'em terribly. Hm.

Dr. Dean:

Yeah, it sounds like.. I love what you're doing now.

Kent:

Oh yeah, as soon as, as soon as I, he was like, besides, actually I think he may have been the first call besides Erica, right? Erica and I were together obviously when, when I became, came on staff with athletes in action to serve the Steelers, he was my first call, said, dude, you'll never believe. he was amid and he wrote me a, a note and just said, man, how, how proud, he was that the fact that I get to serve the Steelers. But then he always wanted that inside information, like, what's going, what's really going on? but yeah, he, he was so proud.

Dr. Dean:

That's fantastic.

Kent:

Yeah.

Dr. Dean:

What are you comfortable sharing about losing him?

Kent:

Yeah, I mean I, you know, in that whole process of losing j h I was in my family. I'm the youngest, but I'm the default leader. I think simply because of being a pastor and, people look in crisis situations, you know, towards that, um, help lead us through, I was, I was leading several, trying to keep people together, text threads and information going out, because, so much had to be shared, because this was during Covid. my brother was born with a really bad heart. three days old. He had, surgery. 16 years old had another major surgery. So he had, he had a scar that was, from the top of his chest to his belly button. It was before to, today's technology that man, you can have a tiny little incision and have a heart transplant basically. So my brother, He . Health was good. It wasn't that, but he just couldn't do certain things. that the rest of us, could, when everybody was playing contact sports, he was not allowed. when he would play sports, he would get winded, very quickly because of, his heart working overtime and that kind of thing. so coming up to, hearing about covid, my, my brother was super careful., like he didn't leave the house. He, he knew that this would be this because cuz of all the stuff that was scaring everybody, like if you have a preexisting, you know, some health challenge, man, this will take you out. And so my brother, was, was just scared. But everybody had to live and Mandy had to go to work, the boys had to go to work, that kind of thing. and. Poor, poor guy, just like, a ton of the population. got covid and 10 days later, he was gone. And I was, during that time of 10 days when he got covid. I was just trying to process it, in my mind, gone, this is really bad, trying to stay positive, trying to rally people to pray. I, I, I kid you not simply because I put it out on social media and said, everybody, can you pray for my brother, j h there were, there were thousands of people who were praying, because of my role a as a pastor, but then also, this new role at the time as chaplain and. So many people praying. And I just would keep updating cuz people were blowing up my phone and I said, this is the way that I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna give people information, via social media, which, is good and bad, but I didn't want to keep answering my phone like crazy. So when j went into the hospital, like it was, it was for pneumonia. So he had, he had gotten sick. like, it wasn't covid yet, but he was really struggling breathing all this. And then I think it was pneumonia and covid collided and, and just like so many people we heard of during that time. And that's when he went into the I C U. so this is probably like four days into being hospitalized. and tested and, and Covid, and I might be getting some of the information wrong. because remember this is, this is during the time nobody can go visit, so no, nobody's allowed in the hospitals. Nobody, so it's all, if, if we can get information from JH in the hospital as the doctors are giving it to him, because there were times that, even his wife. Well, at the beginning his wife was not even allowed to be in there, so he's alone in the I C U or in the hospital. He then, gets the, and, and I remember scrolling through some of my text threads with him that I've saved, and, and I said, have they said anything about C O V? Because it was all pneumonia up until that point. Have they said anything about Covid? And he said, all he simply wrote back was Covid. that's kind of, and I, as soon as I read that, like, oh my goodness, that's when it, a fear struck. But, me and just the way that I kind of handle that kind of stuff is I, I go into leadership mode, at that point and started saying, okay, well we're gonna, we're gonna rally the troops and we're gonna pray. and so I think it, at that point it was. from the time that he went into the hospital to the time that he died, was 10 days. So it was, it was brutal, on our family and, still is, to be quite honest, the, ripple effects of all of this. So, and, and I also say this, the staff, because at the very end. and I, I, who knows what staffs were allowed to do and not, but the, the hospital staff was absolutely amazing. They took care of my brother, the best that they could. They made sure that the pain, and, cuz they had to intubate him, they had to flip him over, all this, ugh. But I met the young man, who was assigned to my brother in the I C U and he allowed us, I don't think he was probably allowed , but he allowed us to come in, so that we could say our goodbyes, to him. And I have, I have video of that to try cuz I FaceTimed my mom and my dad in who, they're 70, they're 75, at that point. and that was just to watch my mom saying goodbye to her son via video.

Dr. Dean:

Oh.

Kent:

and, and obviously they're older, so they're scared that they're gonna get covid if they come in to the hospital. And at that point, like, In my role, The N F L made a decision for, like tiers and I, my role didn't make the tier, the necessary tier to stay in the facility. so I was no longer allowed to be near any of the players and coaches and all of that. So I was. I'm going to see my brother. I don't care, . It's like I'm gonna figure out a way to get into the hospital somehow, some way. and so they let me and my sister go into the room. and it was, you know, we, we tried our best to, who knows if he could hear us, uh, at that point, but we told him what amazing brother he is and was. And you try to say all those things that you. You know, I, I have, I've told him that stuff before, but you, oh, I have a final moment here. This is awful. FaceTimed, Erica and my wife and, had her say goodbye. Didn't want the girls to see him, that way. because he had tubes, I mean, he was swollen like crazy. so it was just rough to see him in that, with a big old., whatever that contraption is that goes down into his lungs. so yeah, some of those crazy memories, that, that in the I C U there, I was just so grateful that they let us in there. Maybe that young man got in trouble for it. I don't know, but I was so grateful. Mm-hmm.

Dr. Dean:

Well, it sounds terribly heartbreaking. Mm-hmm.

Kent:

Yeah. And in those moments, It was like in those moments where I, like, I, it's almost like we knew, I knew this is not good. This is, I don't think he's gonna be able to, with his weak heart, come back, from this. And so I, I process a lot through writing, you you know, journaling. Uh, Uh, and so I started to write, cuz I couldn't sleep. I was, I was up, but all nights, Yeah. All hours of the evening., I just began to write and process through poetry and prayers for j h and then after j h died, it took a turn. and we all, I think we all processed grief very differently. and, and those five stages of grief, that I've studied, you think, you know, until you go through it, so, and I was all over the map. With my emotions and I just, I was, I was writing a ton and I had a couple mentors and even Erica said okay, you should probably take a break, get offline, and just walk through this, without the social media

Dr. Dean:

Mm-hmm.

Kent:

so anyway.

Dr. Dean:

Yeah. So that's, that's interesting, right? Like we, the five stages of grief has since been proven to not be the most accurate cause it's not linear and it wasn't based on

Kent:

Yeah.

Dr. Dean:

or post death. It was, I think, based on. Illness, but similar. Right. You've dealt with a lot of grieving people in your role as well, and we think we understand that and then it happens to us and sibling losses its own unique thing, so

Kent:

Yeah.

Dr. Dean:

yeah. Did you continue to write the poetry even though you weren't online and connected?

Kent:

Oh yeah. I, I definitely, cuz that's, that's kind of how I process, I think in a healthy way. Uh, it was starting to turn pretty dark though, like admittedly, because. I wasn't sleeping, because of just all that was going on. I, things like that, that just make you, I remember writing this, piece. So when, when we got to the point of being able to pull off J'S funeral, because covid protocols and all that stuff, you weren't allowed really to gather, groups of people.. And so here we are, we're trying to plan a funeral amidst Covid and it, I, we just all had a lot of time because we're all isolated in our home own homes. and so I began to think about things like why in America, or maybe it's beyond America, but like, why do we parade ourselves? I wrote this poem called Death Parade. And why do we parade ourselves in front of a body in this? It just, it started to really, I was upset by it, but I started to think about it. I have a friend who is from England and he's, he moved to America and he said, the weirdest thing about America is our funerals. He's like, why in the world do you force people right after? A death to talk with hundreds, thousands of people, like days after a death

Dr. Dean:

Mm-hmm.

Kent:

and you parade their body in front of all of those hundreds and thousands of people. And I just started to think about my buddy from England and being like, yeah, why do we do these death parades? This makes no sense and I understand for closure and, All of that. Seeing, seeing the casket close and then go down into the ground, holy goodness. Like the, it's almost, there's a sick, I, I don't know what, what it is, but if that's closure, I don't necessarily need that personally,

Dr. Dean:

Mm.

Kent:

to, to have closure.

Dr. Dean:

So, yeah, I think that that's an interesting point. I'm curious what that's like in England now that you, you said that cuz rituals around the world are so different. Yeah.

Kent:

Yeah, he, I mean, he basically described it as, and this is my buddy's experience, so who knows if it's all England, but, he, he said they would leave the family alone for weeks. So the., the burial would be very private. and it was just personal, only immediate family kind of thing. They would leave the family alone for weeks to grieve and then once they were ready, then they held like, Hey, we're gonna, we're ready to receive people now and just, be in conversation. And there wasn't exactly like a public service for everybody. This is his experience as he was describing it to me. And I was

Dr. Dean:

Mm-hmm.

Kent:

that's, that's actually what I probably needed, was just to be private, process it with my immediate, and not, because people say really stupid things,

Dr. Dean:

Absolutely.

Kent:

in, in the middle of a funeral, whatever you call that receiving line or, or whatever. And I. You know, some of the, you wanna punch people in the throat, but obviously, you can't. And, in my role, I, I shouldn't, but but like people just say stupid stuff. that does not help that in our minds. Like we can have our theologies, we can believe what we believe. And intellectually it's not computing Emotionally they are, they are battling. And so if you say to me something like, he's in a better place, I'm gonna, yes, I agree, but I want him here. You know, and, and then you get into a battle of, people say stuff about God that is just theologically incorrect. So in my role and in my position, I get mad because you're trying to comfort with bad theology. so things like that that I'm just like, why do we do this? so yes, to answer your question, I did still process a ton, but I just didn't make all of that public and I still write today, that's part of who I am. I love processing my emotions and my. Thoughts through, writing and I, who, who knows if someday, cuz I probably, during that time I wrote, I, I bet you 50 pieces on grief on why do we do certain things. I wrote a piece called The Grief Anvil, that essentially it felt, it feels like it's an anvil on your chest. At all times, and you're carrying this anvil around with you that, that you are trying to process everything through and pound through,. So things like that. I just, I wrote and I wrote and I wrote sometimes three in the morning. Um, I would just be up and, and writing.

Dr. Dean:

I think that. Process is so healing because it taps into that other side of the brain. The, the, the part of our brain that's not logical and it lets us feel the, emotions. I just didn't interview with someone he every day for 365 days. in a similar way to, to process. And I, you're right, people say, they say stupid things. I don't think it's mal intention, joy. They, they mean to help us and. help us grieve. In fact, I created some merchandise around this and some kind of snarky cards. One of them actually addresses that. He's in a better place comment. but you know, people don't mean poorly. It's just very hard, like you said, to wrap the, the mind and the heart together around.

Kent:

there's, there should be some sort of, like education on , what to say or not say anything at all. Just gimme a hug and move down the line

Dr. Dean:

yeah, exactly. Which is part of what I'm doing here.. So.

Kent:

yeah. you know, just the other night, so my, my uncle passed away and we go to the funeral home and it is not in that, in that box that we go to the viewing in that box. It does, I swear to you, I was like, that does not even look like Uncle Clark. I know what he looks like. So whatever the person who's doing the makeup and the hair and all that stuff, I was like, why? Why do we, why do we dress up death? You know? And so that was a big another question. you're putting on death makeup, was another writing piece. And, I just, I really, the way that we do what we do and what that actually does to the people who are still here, Because that dead person doesn't care what they look like. it, but we, we put, we put lipstick, and I'm like, that's not my brother. My brother would never, but I also get that we can't, if we're gonna do the death parade and let people look at his body, and, and there's a whole nother theological, my brother's no longer there. Because he is a soul, having a physical experience. That physical experience is, is now done in their separation of soul and body in that moment. So what made my brother that body bag or that's a, that flesh tent, what made him, him is now gone. His soul has left his body. And you could just tell Uncle Clark, my brother, they do. Look like them because of that moment of separation. and so I just get really bothered if, if at, I really, I probably wouldn't have, and my dad was at the uh, funeral with Uncle Clark, but I wouldn't have gone up to his body cuz I don't do that any longer. I just don't go up to people's bodies like, why do we do that? Makes no sense. Anyway, I'm sorry, I'm off on a tangent.

Dr. Dean:

Oh, no, no, no. I think that was a good tangent., is it hard for you to remember your brother without remembering the ending?

Kent:

No. I think, I mean, it's a, that's a part of the memories. I'll never be able to unsee the I C U. Those moments. you can't unsee that stuff, but, I, I remember all of the great stuff, as well. I, I wanna remember all of that more. And because we grew up in a very, blended family, there's a lot of junk in there. That I also remember. So it's, it's all like a conglomeration of good, bad, death. but then also, grieving with hope. I get to, I get, I know, be beyond a shadow of a doubt that I get to see my brother again. so it's like I remember some really great things surrounding the Steelers Super Bowls. That my brother and I, participated in together and, the one one Super Bowl where the Steelers played up in Detroit. And Erica and I were living in Detroit at the moment, and I, somehow I got onto the E S P N where they were, Doing some commentary and I was jumping in the back so that, if I got on TV kind of thing. And my brother, he, he calls me right away and he goes, dude, are you jumping up and down on E S P N right now? I was like, yeah, that's me. So he kept that video, it was, this was back when, you could, you know, DVR very quickly rewind it and all that stuff.. And, so he kept that, the whole time and he just, he just loved watching everything. Steelers, pirates, penguins. and so the fact that he saw me, like we always just shared that. and he, he would joke when I got into the role that I am now, he's like, are you gonna jump up and down on the sidelines so I can see you? stuff like that. But I mean, he

Dr. Dean:

you

Kent:

no, oh, I stay away. I don't wanna be on that camera. if I'm on that camera, that means I gotta get off quick. but yeah, he would always text me, Hey, saw you today on the sideline, real quickly. But there's so many great memories of of, of, j h that outweigh the, i c u moment. But that's, I mean, that's cemented in there as a really rough moment of, transition to heaven. Really painful way to go. I mean, I feel so bad, that he was all, well, I I say this cuz a portion of what I wrote, during that time was that my, my brother was all alone. But now the more that I think about that, he had an amazing, team of doctors, physicians, nurses who were caring for. Even though he, the whole covid thing kept us all out. he was not alone. And I, I, I believe that obviously God was very near to him in that moment. So he was not alone, even though that was what I was processing, I just pictured him in that room all alone. So I have both of those kind of memories o of my brother. And, it's hard sometimes when, How do I wanna say this? when that grief wave comes when you are in the middle of, because it hits you outta nowhere, right? You could be watching a

Dr. Dean:

Absolutely

Kent:

you could be reading a book. You could be, and, and all of a sudden, boom, that grief wave comes. And it's hard not to go back to that ICU moment. So I've tried to train my brain. To as soon as that grief wave comes to welcome it, and to appreciate the fact that I'm remembering my brother, and that's a good thing. so it's, you know, grief, if, if we begin to, at least this is just for me, possibly, I've learned to be curious about. The grief and what is it about this moment right now? What am I processing? all five senses aware right now and be curious about the grief that is hitting me right now and to not, you know, me, like, I'm, I'm known as the crying pastor, so I do not care when emotions come. I don't try to be. What our culture might have taught generations of man, men don't cry. that's a lie. And I, I process pretty quickly through that grief because I'm able to embrace the emotion that comes. So just the other day I'm watching, if you haven't seen this man, you have to watch it. it, it's, it's the chosen, have you watched this series?

Dr. Dean:

I have not.

Kent:

at all. So, it is a story. it, it, it's, how do I wanna put this? It's a Hollywood, but I believe incredibly accurate, portrayal of Jesus and the disciples and, it's called the chosen. And there was this moment. I immediately was thinking about my brother tears welling up inside. Good thing I, you know, it was like, I'm glad nobody's home right now because I'm watching this and I'm just thinking about the closeness of the disciples of Jesus was the closeness that I desired to have with my brother, but because of the brokenness of marriage and divorce and all of this, I didn't get to have. What I was watching on the screen. And so I went through this really quickly. Like I was mad, I was sad, I was torn up inside and I was just like, okay. I paused it and I was just like, let's do this. Let's walk through. Why am I mad? Why am I sad? Why? You know, and it was, five minutes and I was done and I allowed that wave of grief to come over me and I was okay with it. But that I, it took me a year and a half of intense therapy to be able to do that. I, I wasn't equipped with, with those kind of tools, to be curious about and to welcome the grief because most people, well, I did before, shove it down and we, and we don't welcome it. We reject it and we've been told that we. Just move on. Well, it, that's, you can't, grief doesn't allow you to move on. you, you just, you I have learned to be able to journey with grief instead of just try to get through it, that it doesn't happen cuz it's gonna, it's gonna come out somewhere someway sideways, you know, in that,

Dr. Dean:

Yeah. I love that so much that you're able to just sit there and be with it, but also process each emotion individually as fast as. it happens. Or as slow as it happens. But that's, that's beautiful. and I like the name The Grief Wave. Like I hadn't really thought about that, the, cuz those things do happen. It's just so.

Kent:

Yeah. The, I was, I was in, Because after my brother died in the whole funeral process, I noticed it. Like I remember going to Erica and saying something, something snapped inside of me and it's really dark and I'm actually scared of it, of what this is all unraveling.

Dr. Dean:

Mm.

Kent:

So I said to her, I need help. And I knew. and it wasn't just about not sleeping and, and all of that. There was some serious stuff. I think with, the broken, blended family, the pain and that all of that just balled up inside of me. That by the way, I thought I had dealt with, but only really scratched the surface. And so I submitted myself, to searching for a trauma therapist. and, some of the things that I've walked through in my life that have happened to me and just the, I mean, I could spend hours telling you, just the pain of our w I mean, every family has this, but

Dr. Dean:

Mm-hmm.

Kent:

our wonderful family. and what that has done in me, I said to Eric, I, I need help.

Dr. Dean:

Mm.

Kent:

I need help to process this. I did a, a therapy intensive five days, eight hours a day. It was rough, but it was so good. And that counselor, is the one who gave that image of, essentially when we're little kids, we love when those waves come, right? We play in that kind of water. We, and she taught me, that whole concept of. a lot of people, when they don't see that wave coming, that's when it tosses you and, you can't tell, which is up and down. And she just, she taught me to be aware of the waves when they're coming and be curious, playful,

Dr. Dean:

Mm.

Kent:

about that wave. So she's the one who, who taught me about the waves of grief and welcoming them and playing in them, so to speak, being curious a about them. So she, she, she really, I'm so grateful for her, and the journey that she allowed me for about a year and a half to be on, with her. so very,

Dr. Dean:

That's fantastic. as a mental health professional myself, but also in talking to people like the training on grief varies, but also especially around sibling grief and trauma. So I'm, I'm so grateful for you that you were able to find adequate, well, more than adequate. Very good hope. It

Kent:

Yeah. And I,

Dr. Dean:

also sounds like Erica knew when to point you to,

Kent:

oh.

Dr. Dean:

you need to take a break.

Kent:

Yes, and, and a, and a and a mentor. What's wild is that they hadn't talked to each other. but within the same day, they both confronted me lovingly and said, Hey, might be wise to get off of social media and not be talking to anybody right now. And so I was like, okay, God,, you're, you're getting my attention. so yeah, I often, I often say that, the Holy Spirit sounds a lot like Erica so yeah.

Dr. Dean:

So in that time period, when did, when did JH die? I know it was during Covid, but

Kent:

Yeah. November 29th. 2020, so right at the height of, of Covid.

Dr. Dean:

Mm-hmm..So before, Vaccines and treatments and all of that. Were you, I mean, you mentioned the funeral. Were you able to then have some sort of celebration of life that was not so focused on the death parade?

Kent:

I mean, yeah, it all had to be, together. so like. The whole concept of the body, being there, open casket, all of this thing. And then we walked into the sanctuary, had to be seated six feet apart. And there we actually, we created, this is, I mean, I could probably get in trouble for this, right? But there was a section that was . It was like the leper colony. Those who, those who wanted to be there., but they had covid but no symptoms. I mean, so like, so that part was sectioned off in the back of the church , and it was like, we can't go near there, And now what we know of Covid and all this stuff, I mean, it's just like the things that we didn't know. so yes, we, we celebrated and we told stories. You know about j h and, and all of this, but like, then you couldn't even, you couldn't gather,

Dr. Dean:

Mm-hmm.

Kent:

know what I mean? You couldn't gather as a whole family and have, that traditional wake where people were telling stories and, and, and all of these things. So it was just a, it didn't, it didn't feel like a celebration, anything around it. because people. COVID was such a big thing that was blocking everything. And so because of that, even families were fighting about we shouldn't do it this way, or we should do it this way because of covid, we masks and non masks and ugh, all of that stuff just really clouded any celebration. and so when, even when we went to the, the, the graveside, it wasn. It was, it was so cold and everything. We did everything inside so people couldn't be together. It was just weird. and I think that, that, that led to more anger and frustration, bitterness all rising up, within me personally. and so all of that celebration stuff, really, in my opinion, we, we didn't, we didn't get to fully celebrate.

Dr. Dean:

Yeah. And what I know about you from having known you for a while is. Community and discipleship and being together is so important to you and not being able to do that in the time of that need was probably adding to the grief and loss.

Kent:

absolutely. And, and then when you're just, when you are from a blended family and you know when moments of crisis happen. Like this tragedy, this is when everything that you're in that pressure cooker and so everything is heightened because now my brother unfortunately, would he four different families trying to weigh in on what should happen. And so it was just, and I love them all. I, I absolutely do. I love them all. It's just, The complication of it all is what crushed my heart. The complexity of broken, blended, and, and I'm not even speaking against any blended or broken, like, it's not that it's my particular family. It was heartbreaking to even see how people were grouped because of the covid protocols. And so it was just a reminder, to me of just how broken we are as a people, individuals, humanity,

Dr. Dean:

Mm-hmm.

Kent:

and, and just how much we are in need of God to come and rescue us. And he did. And, and it's almost a jealousy at this point of my brother that he does not any longer have to deal, have to navigate, have to be the glue. So I'm happy for him, but also that complexity here

Dr. Dean:

Mm-hmm.

Kent:

it is, it is so broken. and I, there's a, there's a bit of belief for me. Covid wasn't the only thing that took my brother. I think he was exhausted from being the glue. And so that breaks my heart that all of that tension, all of that, he's gotta be four places on Christmas and on Easter, and I'm like, dude, I am so sorry that this was, this was the hand that you were dealt, but he was a master. At being able to navigate it. but I think it wore on him big time.

Dr. Dean:

Have you found yourself trying to be the glue since then?

Kent:

No. because I can't, you know that.

Dr. Dean:

families.

Kent:

Correct. So, J would bring us all together. At his home or, celebrations or whatever. And now that he's not here, I can't bring all four families, together. and nor nor would I want to, because of the, the family dynamic intention, uh, uh, that is there, but that's even so like even within my nuclear family. there's just been a gap, that's, missing because now, like, if you think about it, with my brother not being the glue, I'm not gonna see their family as much,

Dr. Dean:

Mm.

Kent:

and, and not know fully what's going on with them because there's, there was tension there that j h minimized. and, and. I can't, I can't be the minimizer for his nuclear family. so yeah, there's a dynamic there that is just, it's a part of being a blended family that because JH is no longer there, that they're like, well, we really, ugh, we really don't need to be at this function. so that's really sad. but I can't be that, and so that makes me. I, she says, so I miss my nephews, I miss getting together with J and Mandy and Erica and me. and you can invite, but you think about the dynamic. You invite her to come and sh poor thing. Like, we love her, but she feels odd. and they feel odd because the person that they used to gather with us, So it's, it's just that man, it's a, a whole conglomeration of, of, weirdness and, I don't know how to navigate it, to be honest.

Dr. Dean:

Yeah. It sounds like you had a lot of support even though you were grieving in isolation.

Kent:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the beautiful thing about technology is, I could get on the phone with my mentor, You know, I had a, I mean so many, so many people from, the church were calling and asking and, but a part of that support was like, I can't handle this. I can't handle the questions, I can't handle, so I, I really tightened my circle. and, and I just said like, if it's not these three people, so this, it was my best friend, it was Erica and then it was my mentor. if the calls weren't coming from those three people, text wasn't coming from those three people. I was like, I can't, I just, I, I don't have the emotional capacity right now to be able to handle the number of conversations, because, in my role and I love it, so, Don't get me wrong, but in my role as pastor and chaplain, like a lot of people were reaching out and I'm so grateful for that, but I couldn't answer them all. so I had a ton of support, but those three in particular were my rocks. I really tightened down my circle of trust in that moment. and, and that was something that my. again, to go, I, I guess I could include in my circle of trust there, my, my therapist, in that, so four people that were really, holding my arms up, so to speak, to help me through it. Mm-hmm.

Dr. Dean:

Thank you for sharing all of that. I think setting those boundaries is a, it's hard to do, especially given your role, but it, it sounds like it was definitely right move for you. Mm-hmm.

Kent:

Yeah. And I like, I'm, I'm a people pleaser by just personality. And, and I think that, my role, I, I don't know how to describe it, but it's sort of, Feeds into that, because I just wanna serve everybody and, and help anybody. And, but when I started to put that circle of trust and tighten it, it, it ticked off a lot of people. and they didn't understand, and I didn't have the emotional capacity to help them understand. I don't have to help you understand when I'm, when I just got knocked 10 ta tenway sideways. and I don't have to explain anything to anybody, right now, and that was hard for me to accept because I, I love people. I love my church.. I want, I wanna live a life that where I love everybody, come, let me give you a hug. I was incapable, of that in that moment. And, so while I had that support, a lot of people got mad at me, which then makes, once I kind of got healthy again. and still on that journey by the way,

Dr. Dean:

Mm.

Kent:

once I got clarity of sleep and. some distance and some listening to wise counsel. I began to question the, maybe the motive of some people's support and, like, man, I, I don't know. I don't know how to navigate what you want from me and, and should you want something from me right now? but in a leadership role, I think that comes with the territory. And when you're seen as a leader in a family or a community, and I think I put this pressure on myself by the way, that I feel like I have to help because that's what I'm called to do. But in a moment where I needed the help, I didn't know how to receive the help. there was a, there was a obvious gap there that, I think I made some people upset by my lack of response or, and I ca I can't do anything to control that. but I also, part of who I am is I feel bad that, like, I feel, I feel like I owe you an explanation. but up here I know that I don't. it's just my heartstrings, I guess.

Dr. Dean:

what goes back to that whole metaphor of the airplane mask, right? That

Kent:

Yeah.

Dr. Dean:

you have to take care of yourself before you can help

Kent:

Right.

Dr. Dean:

every everyone else. So as hard as that

Kent:

But I think,

Dr. Dean:

sounds like it was

Kent:

I think there's a lot of, I think there's a lot of pastors, that maybe aren't trained in that. that maybe don't even, and, and I'm not saying this in a bad way, but just like we don't practice what we preach in that area of taking care of ourselves so that we can take care o of others. and I, I think it comes from a, a good place. It's not like we're trying to be, you're not trying to be anybody's, for lack of a better term, savior or helper., but it's a heart to want to do that, for people. so when you can't even do that for yourself, it's almost like there's this wave of shame of like, man, I, this is what I tell my people to do and I don't even know how to do it. I want to do it, but I can't. so then there's this like, what's wrong with me? cuz I should be able to do this. So anyway, there's a whole bag of fun mixed emotions right there,

Dr. Dean:

I mean, it's the same in my role, right? Like we're, we're, always wanting to help other people and do that. And I, I told this story other times, but I, my brother died on a Saturday. I took Monday off. I decided since the funeral wasn't until the end of the week that I would go back to work on, on Tuesday.

Kent:

Hmm.

Dr. Dean:

I promptly left cuz how can I take care of everyone else? I'm like grieving. Right. well thank you for all of that and the, the vulnerability and the honesty. I want to wrap up with the same question that I wrap up with everyone. and you hinted at some of this, but what is your one or two favorite memories of U N J?

Kent:

Yeah, I love this cuz I've, I've got so many. so j h used to live with us when I was little. so I, I think it, I think it was when I was maybe seven or eight that j went to live with his dad. so this memory comes when I am, I'm probably six or seven. I am so excited for Christmas morning. My brother and I, so my, my parents lived in like a, they bought a two bedroom home, but my dad converted, I don't even know how he did this, but he made it into a three bedroom house, put up a wall, very thin wall between my brother, between me and my brother's room, and, Shannon's my, my sister's. And we would have to go through her bedroom to get out to the living room because it wasn't a real room, if that makes sense. so I just remember being so excited cuz my brother and I, when I was little, had to share a bed. So just imagine, how awkward is this for a teenage dude, j h sharing a bedroom with his little, brother? but for me in that moment on Christmas morning where j and i, cuz he's still super excited for Christmas and maybe he was just acting because I am super excited for Christmas morning and what did Santa bring? And I just remember the, the back and forth conversation that j and I had about. What do you, what do you think Santa, brought, what, what are we gonna do? Can we, are we allowed to go out yet? all this kind of thing. And it's just me and him under the covers, giggling, laughing. I loved it. so that's an incredible, incredible memory. and then this, this one for me will always be the highlight. I had the privilege of, of baptizing my brother. In his mother-in-law, father-in-law's pool. moment where my sister and my brother had never gone public with their faith in Jesus Christ and because I was a pastor, j h and Shannon asked me, so I, this is I to have that privilege to be able to baptize my brother in a confession of faith in front of. His family and his friends, and it was just that moment where he and I, after I dunked him down in the water, he comes up. I just gave him the biggest bear hug because even though he's my older brother, I am probably, so he might be 5 8, 5 9, and I'm six two. So I just wrapped him up and it was like this beautiful moment of. This is what we're gonna get to celebrate for ever. so to have that privilege to baptize him was absolutely a highlight of my life. So love it. And, yeah, that'll stick with me for a long time. Got great pictures of it. It's , not, I had hair back in the, in that time, So, yeah. But, but love him. Gonna miss him terribly until I get to see him face to face.

Dr. Dean:

Yeah. Well thanks for sharing all of that.

Kent:

Sure.

Dr. Dean:

Thank you so much for listening. Our theme song was written by Joe Mylward and Brian Dean, and was performed by Joe Mylward. If you would like more information on The Broken Pack™, go to our website, the broken pack.com. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter, Wild Grief™, to learn about opportunities and receive exclusive information and grieving tips for subscribers. Information on that, our social media and on our guests can be found in the show notes wherever you get your podcasts. Please like, follow, subscribe, and share. Thanks again.

Intro
About Kent
About JH
Growing Up
Losing JH
Boundaries in Kent's Grief
Saying Goodbye to JH
Coping Through Poetry
Death Parade
People Say Stupid Things
Grief is an Anvil
Remembering JH
Grief Waves and Bursts
Learning to Be Curious in His Grief
Asking for Help
Celebrating JH's Life in COVID Times
Complex Family Dynamics
Having Support
Learning to Receive Help as a Helper
Favorite Memories with JH
Outro