PTSD Spirituality: Dena Yllescas: Blogging to Live and Widows and Orphans

I benefit from writing the PTSD Spirituality blog. Writing helps me heal my soul. At the risk of hubris, it appears that sometimes this PTSD blog helps others. Today’s news reminded me that others receive similar grace from writing a blog. Dena Yllescas is featured in today’s on-line Washington Post.  Her husband, Army CPT Rob Yllescas, died  from wounds received in Afghanistan. From the time of his wounding and onward she has kept a blog.  They have two daughters.   I believe ithat writing her blog has helped her stay sane and cope with the grief and the PTSD that comes from losing someone you love.  Dena Yllescas’s blog is located at the Yllescas Family Blog.

The Blog as Rallying Point for Life

Part of what is amazing here is how people have rallied around the Yllescas family and wanted the best for them.  If you read the WashPo article, you will also see how some people were less than gracious at how Dena Yllescas managed to go on living in spite of her husband’s death.  I want this PTSD Spirituality blog post to be more upbeat than some of my other essays.  Yet., I am always flabergasted at how easily others judge what’s best for a war widow.  You and I shall have to pray for their conversion to life and forgiveness.  Still, her blog has allowed many people who would have otherwise been ignorant of suffering and sacrifice to become aware, pray, and hopefully become motivated to help those in need.

True Religion is Caring for Widows and Orphans

Blog posts can help us understand the suffering of others as we fight our wars.  Widows are often the most forgotten people out there.  America does a lousy job of taking care of its widows and orphans.  You already know America does a lousy job of caring for its veterans and people traumatized by rape or clergy abuse.  Scripture informs us that how we care for widows and orphans, how we care for the vulnerable, indicates if our own religion is a true religion.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their afflcition, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (James 1:27, RSV).

The phrase “orphans and widows” has a literal and a figurative meaning:

Literally, it is someone with no man (or parents) to protect them in an environment where they would be targeted and exploited.

Figuratively, it means anyone who is vulnerable.

The biblical Jewish prophets criticized rulers who did not look after their widows and orphans.  James, in the New Testament, uses their treatment as one of the two standards to evaluate if a religion is true or not.  The term, widows and orphans, becomes a metaphor for those who are vulnerable and need help or protection.  Taking care of our vulnerable people, that is the exercise of true religion.  People who focus on profit and  tax rates would be found by James to be un-Christian, they serve different gods, and they don’t serve the vulnerable.

Blogging to Tell the Truth and to Heal

Dena Yllescas’s blog is a powerfuil testament to the healing power of writing.  If you suffer from primary or secondary PTSD, then know that writing can help you heal.  It may be in the form of a book, blog entries, or something you write only for yourself.  But, it is important to write.  Writing can help heal a soul that is wounded by trauma.

Semper Pax, Dr. Z


  1. Hey John, repair that link to the Yllescas blog. It has a superfluous dot and slash at the end. Clicking it will cause one to wind up in the wrong place.

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