• 1 in 3 Protestant Churchgoers Personally Affected by Suicide

1 in 3 Protestant Churchgoers Personally Affected by Suicide

1 in 3 Protestant Churchgoers Personally Affected by Suicide

Survey also finds one-third of victims were attending church before their death, but few pastors knew of their struggle.

by BOB SMIETANA

Suicide remains a taboo subject in many Protestant churches, despite the best efforts of pastors, according to a new study from LifeWay Research.

Eight in 10 Protestant senior pastors believe their church is equipped to intervene with someone who is threatening suicide.

Yet few people turn to the church for help before taking their own lives, according to their churchgoing friends and family. Only 4 percent of churchgoers who have lost a close friend or family member to suicide say church leaders were aware of their loved one’s struggles.

“Despite their best intentions, churches don’t always know how to help those facing mental health struggles,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

Continue reading

Advertisements

• Man Copes With the Death of His Wife By Hiking

 Man Copes With the Death of His Wife By Hiking

What may become my standard opener for posts about death and grief:

My mother died a little bit before the year 2010 (yes, I am being intentionally sketchy about specifics because I would like to remain anonymous).
I discovered the hard way after my mother’s passing, and I was shocked and deeply saddened and disappointed to find, that most Christians are terrible at helping someone who is in grief.
Many Christians do not even want to try to be there for someone who has experienced loss, whether out of laziness, selfishness, or feeling uncomfortable with open expressions of emotional pain.
Whatever the reason, most Christians do not want to weep with the one who weeps and therefore leaves them to cope with the loss completely alone, which I feel is terrible and insensitive.


I watched a Christian program that involved a man whose wife died of breast cancer. He started hiking to cope with the loss.

Before I get to the link and his story, I wanted to use his story as a reminder: conservative Christians keep offering this fairy tale story that marriage will solve all a person’s problems.

The conservative church portrays singleness after the age of 25 as being second class or merely a waiting period until one eventually marries (what if one never marries? they never address this possibility).

Getting married is not a solution to loneliness, financial problems, or about anything else problematic, as so many Christians like to portray it.

Should you marry, your spouse may turn out to be abusive (whether physically, emotionally, verbally, or financially), your spouse may announce one day that he’s not in love with you any longer and wants to divorce you to marry another; or, your spouse may come down with a mental health problem or get into a car wreck and become paralyzed.

And, of course, as this post shows, should you marry, your spouse may die from a physical cause.

Hiking Through – One Man’s Great Adventure on the Appalachian Trail

Snippets:

Each year thousands of people attempt to hike the entire Appalachian Trail from start to finish. Only one in four completes it. When then 58-year-old Paul Stutzman took his first steps on the 2,176 mile journey, he wanted more than a great adventure. He was looking for an encounter with God.

Years before, Paul was busy living life. He was happily married, had three children and a great job managing a large restaurant in Ohio’s Amish country.  Then in 2002, doctors diagnosed his beloved wife Mary with breast cancer. Although they did everything they could and believed God would heal her, Mary passed away four years later.

Continue reading

• The Death of a Child: Understanding the Grief Facing Charlie Gard’s Parents by Jessica Firger

The Death of a Child: Understanding the Grief Facing Charlie Gard’s Parents by Jessica Firger

I don’t think most people, Christians above all, have a handle on how to minister to someone who is in grief. It’s a topic I wish were covered more often on spiritual abuse type blogs.

The following editorial focuses on the loss of an infant, but I think a lot of the advice the expert gives is applicable to about anyone who has suffered loss, regardless of the age.

The Death of a Child: Understanding the Grief Facing Charlie Gard’s Parents

Snippets:

This week, Connie Yates and Chris Gard said goodbye to their son, Charlie Gard. On Thursday, a judge of the British High Court ruled the 11-month-old, who had been suffering from an extremely rare and untreatable genetic disorder known as mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, should be taken off life-support and moved into a hospice facility. He died the next day.

The story of the young boy has stirred up an international and contentious debate about the limits of hospice and end-of-life care.

Newsweek spoke with Dr. Joanne Cacciatore, a grief counselor whose area of expertise is traumatic death, particularly that of children. Cacciatore is professor of psychology at Arizona State University and founder of the MISS Foundation, a nonprofit that provides social support services to families grieving loss.

Although Cacciatore has published more than 60 papers on the subject of bereavement and traumatic death, her expertise is also firsthand. More than two decades ago, she lost her daughter, Cheyanne, at birth.

What makes grieving the loss of an infant different from grieving an older child?

The death of a child at any age and from any cause is life-changing for parents. It’s always extremely painful. What makes the death of a young baby different is that often the family grieves alone.

Very few people knew the child intimately other than the parents.

And because babies are, of course, highly dependent on the parent for care, such a death is different in some important and really painful ways. Many parents who experience the death of a baby feel a tremendous sense of responsibility for their baby’s death.

….Does the bereavement process become easier over time for parents that find themselves in these circumstances?

I’m not a fan of the idea of “recovery,” because I don’t think we ever recover from a catastrophic loss. But the grief can become lighter. I try to teach people how to carry it, how to turn toward it, and how to stay connected to the child who died. We need space and people to remember with us in nonjudgmental ways.

Continue reading

• Regarding Grief, Sickness, and Depression: Hold Your Tongue and Offer Your Heart Instead by Heather Plett

Regarding Grief, Sickness and Depression: Hold Your Tongue and Offer Your Heart Instead by Heather Plett

This is a topic I’d like to see addressed more often on some of the other spiritual abuse blogs out there. The link to the Plett-authored essay is much farther below. I wanted to say a few words first.

Many Christians are either too lazy, too selfish, or too inept at assisting someone who is walking through grief.

After my own mother died a few years ago, no Christians were there for me, and it still shocks and saddens me to this day.

When I did muster the courage to phone or to open up to Christians (some church people, some were relatives, all of whom were ages 45 and on up), I was not met with compassion and empathy.

Rather, I was met with cliches,  sunny-sounding platitudes, criticism, judgmentalism, people who downplayed my grief (by comparing it to someone else’s pain in life and saying my grief was nothing).

Continue reading

• For Most, Jesus and the Gospels Are Not the Answer for Depression, Suicide, and Other Mental Health Maladies (Part 2)

For Most, Jesus and the Gospels Are Not the Answer for Depression, Suicide, and Other Mental Health Maladies (Part 2)

(Continued from Part 1)

A lot of Christians out there, especially hyper conservative ones who distrust secular (or even Christian) psychology or psychiatry, incorrectly want to attribute most mental health problems to personal sin only, and they will often prescribe ineffective means of solving mental health problems, such as, accepting Jesus as savior, Bible reading, church attendance, faith, prayer, volunteering at charities, etc.

I would add Christian apologist Ray Comfort to that list, at least somewhat. Comfort does not strike me as being as severe in those views as other Christians I’ve come across, though.

As I explained in Part 1, Comfort has recently released a film called “Exit: The Appeal of Suicide” that he was interviewed about on TBN the other night. He seems to feel that only Non-Christians, or Christians who lack a faith in God’s promises, will suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts. I disagree.

BIOLOGICAL CAUSES

I suspect that depression and anxiety may be partially based in biological causes in my own family, because it runs on both sides of my family.

My mother’s side had a lot of anxiety and depression, and there were a lot of suicides on my father’s side of the family tree.

CANNOT BE TREATED OR CURED BY WILL POWER ALONE

This brings me to another point: a lot of Christians shame people, especially other Christians, for having mental conditions, such as anxiety or depression.

Christians treat having a mental health problem as a spiritual failing (such as having a lack of faith), or as a matter of will power: if you just tough it out and pick yourself up by your bootstraps, you can halt the mental disorder. That is not how mental health works.

Continue reading

• Non-Church, Non-Spiritual, or Secular Remedies and Treatments Don’t Always Work

Non-Church, Non-Spiritual, or Secular Remedies and Treatments Don’t Always Work

This is not the post I had planned on writing.

I was briefly discussing in an older post that most American Christians and most churches are utterly terrible at assisting most people who have mental health problems (and I’d also add addiction problems, domestic violence problems, and many other types of problems).

In order to appreciate my position on things, I feel a reader might want to read about my experience with depression and anxiety.

From the age of 11 to the time I was approximately 32 or 33 years old, I saw around four or five different psychiatrists, one psychologist, and one therapist, all for clinical depression and anxiety. (I also saw the therapist to receive grief counseling.)

I know at least one of those several doctors was a Christian, though we never talked about Jesus or faith matters in our sessions.

I have no idea what the religious beliefs were of the other MHPs (Mental Health Professionals) I visited.

From around the age of 15 or 16, up until I was about 33 years old, I was prescribed various anti-depressant medications and about two different anti-anxiety medications.

The medication dosages were modified by the doctors when they didn’t seem to be working for me at their initial dosages.

At some point during my 20s (I do not recall the exact age or for how long, but at least one year), I stopped seeing doctors and stopped taking the pills, because the doctors and the pills were not working.

I also halted medical treatment of my depression and anxiety because I assumed God was refusing to heal me and help me because I was using non-faith means (i.e. medical science) for a solution.

A small part of this view of mine was due to Christian teaching I saw or heard that cast the use of doctors and medications for psychological problems as being sinful or as showing a lack of faith.

Continue reading

• Why Keeping a Diary Helps You Move On And Even Improves Your Heart Health – Daily Mail

This article focuses on divorce, but I think its advice is applicable to other life problems.

I discussed healing and moving past painful ordeals in a previous post or two. I had depression for many years, and after my mother died a few years ago, I had to find healthy ways to cope with the grief.

One method I used was writing. I used to write by pen in an old notebook. These days, I might blog about something, or write posts on someone else’s blog. I’ve found writing does help.

Why Keeping a Diary Helps You Move On And Even Improves Your Heart Health – Daily Mail by Alexandra Thompson

Here are some snippets from that page:

Struggling to cope with a divorce? Keeping a diary helps you move on and even improves your heart health

  • Expressing feelings by telling a story of your relationship has notable benefits
  • Writing lowers the heart’s rate and increases its beat variability, boosting health
  • Telling a story has advantages over expressing feelings or recording activities

Continue reading