Friday, August 29, 2014

Feeling Sad and I Just Don’t Get It

 by Glynis M. Belec

        Last week I attended two funerals. One was for a respected gentleman from our church; a lovely 89 year old fellow who loved to laugh and who had been a blessing to many over the years. His funeral was a celebration of a life well lived and a great comfort to the family. He will certainly be missed and many tears were shed, but it was obvious that he lived a full life.  God had called this tired old saint home. Over the next few weeks family and friends will come to accept that it was time for their loved one to depart from this world and to be with Jesus.
       The second funeral I attended was for a young man of eighteen years. Suicide.  Heart-rendering, to say the least.  Although it was a moving God-focussed funeral, it was one of shock and turmoil; confusion and question; great sadness and despondency.  The celebration of life seemed to be replaced with a spiritual cacophony. Why didn’t Jesus. . .? Where was the Lord when. . .? How can the son of a beloved and sincere pastor. . .?  The church overflowed with sadness. Young and old gathered to remember his short life and to try to make sense of what causes a body to despair so. Over the next few weeks family and friends will battle with various emotions and troubling questions and perhaps they will never really find the answers they seek.
         I can speak first-hand to those troubling questions, too, for my brother-in-law died to suicide and I saw how the ensuing roller coaster of emotions ravaged family and friends for years.
         So, no, I really do not get mental illness.  But I do get cancer. And you know what? A lot of people knew a lot of things to do when I was diagnosed with cancer. No one knows where my cancer came from just like no one knows where mental illness comes from but everyone and his uncle did what they could to get rid of my cancer. Shouldn't it be the same for diseases of the mind, too?
     It's getting better these days, but it still seems like sometimes many do not know what to do when mental illness rears its ugly head. Mental illness is a serious diagnosis and deserves the same 'respect' as any other disease. There still prevails the preconceived notion of people with a definitive diagnosis of mental illness being psychotic or dangerous, perhaps unpredictable and untrustworthy, thus some feel justified 'steering clear.'  
     There was the odd person who 'steered clear' of me when I was going through chemotherapy and let me tell you, I felt a little outcast and sad when that happened. But for the most part a diagnosis of cancer brought empathy, sympathy, a listening ear, prayer and help in many forms. Do we do the same for those suffering with depression or other mental disease? Do we regularly ask how they are doing - and sincerely mean it? No one expected me to smarten up, smile and shake off my cancer. Why do we expect those with disorders of brain function to do so? 
     I do know God is in control. I also do know that we are not created as puppets and freewill permeates our earthly presence. That's just how it was planned. But was it planned for an eighteen year old to take his own life? There are wicked and evil forces in this world. Never stronger than almighty God, but stronger than humankind. I believe we need to take mental illness seriously and understand the sphere of influence of such forces. Cancer of the ovaries in my case, was treated effectively. Cancer of the spirit can be treated effectively, too. If my cancer was left to battle itself. I would be dead. Depression when left to battle itself, will kill every time - always the spirit, sometimes the body.

SUICIDE.  The word suicide caught your attention, didn't it? The truth is suicide catches everyone's attention. It's the actions that lead up to suicide that go unnoticed.

     When a person dies from suicide, the battle of evil is not lost. The battle is merely over. I want to believe that God wins because really, He has won the battle - I read the end of the Book. 

              And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NLT) Romans 8:38-39


Rose McCormick Brandon said...

A thought-provoking, honest look at one of life's saddest happenings Such a contrast between the two funerals. Always hard when life ends sadly.

Mary Haskett said...

Yes I agree with Rose. There are so many whys, but we will never understand the whole. God alone sees and knows all.

fudge4ever said...

This was such a good perspective, Glynis. I agree - we need to give people struggling with mental illness the care and attention they need to deal with it, rather than steering clear. And I also agree with you that God has won the battle for them. Thank you for this, I will share it with my friend.

Bobbi Junior said...

Having suffered from mental illness for 15 years, I can relate, Glynis. Those who helped me were the ones who walked alongside, no matter what state I was in. There was no judgement, only the constant love of acceptance.

Eventually the Lord brought me to healing (the topic of my current work-in-progress) but, 15 years!

My friends stuck by me through incapacity, non-functionality, hospitalization...

I remember Bible studies where they studied and discussed and I lay on the couch, almost catatonic. But I heard. I absorbed...

Mental illness is. It just is. That was their attitude. And I was worth their attention. God be praised!

I posted on depression last week. A place to start if we want to support others. Keep spreading the word, Glynis.

Ruth Smith Meyer said...

Suicide is indeed difficult for the remaining family to live with. Often, the problem is that the depth of the depression hasn't been recognized. Most of us feel depressed at times, and too often when we see it in others, we just think of it as a rough time that will soon pass over. I agree that we need to nip it in the bud and begin talking when the first signs appear. We wouldn't think of allowing a person with a broken leg to "just get over it." For many of us, "there but for the grace of God, go I". Thank you Glynis for bringing it out in the open and helping us to think seriously about it.

Rj Appel said...

Thank you Glynis for your post today because everyone needs to hear it. I have lived with bipolar disorder for over 30 years. God has brought me such a measure of healing that i no longer need medication but the chemical imbalance is still present. Grief for the death of a friend triggered a deeper depression than I have had in years. My friends didn't understand and one even made comments that led me to question my faith and whether or not God had healed me. I know that they did not mean to, but as a result I went through months of depression without the support I had relied on in the past. If my cancer had come back none would have questioned my faith, so why do people question it when my mental illness reoccurs? Thanks to God's unfailing love and provision, and support from a dear (new) friend; I am 'back on my feet' and well enough to resume some of my ministry work. Although it will take time, I have FAITH that I will once again go into 'remission'.

Glynis said...

Thank you sweet girls for sharing your stories, opinions and words of encouragement and for being vulnerable. I am amazed at the emails and messages I am getting from Christian brothers and sisters who are dealing with mental issues but 'hide it' from Christian friends for fear of being judged - or worse, like Bobbi said - having one's faith judged! How dare we? Sometimes just sharing the pain in words, can alleviate ever so slightly. Little by little; bit by bit - at least it is a start.

Ed Hird+ said...

Thank you for your sensitive reflections, Glynis. Suicide solves nothing, and leaves such a tragic undermath for those left behind.

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