Friday, October 15, 2010

Families Coping with Mentally Ill Loved Ones

O My Soul:

This video is from the gives voice to the anguish of family caring for loved ones with various kinds of mental illness. Due to my own struggles and also as a pastor of a congregation, I am more aware of the difficulties faced by family members.

What struck a nerve with me from this video is when one gentleman said he was asked by several churches to leave because of the distruptions caused by the mentally ill family member. Ouch!

What can a Christian congregation do to help these families? If there was any intentional support for them what might it look like?

Besides personal awareness of a few individuals within the congregation, I have not pursued much targeted work toward the care of their souls. But I have done the following:

1. I pray for them in my private prayers, asking Jesus Christ to have mercy upon them.

2. I visit occasionally and listen. My hope is that with that individual family I can reduce the stigma. The biggest difficulty for me as a pastor is that if I listen and feel the pain to much my own depression can worsen. They don't know I have depression they just know that I am sensitive and acknowledge that depression and other mental illness exist and that it not simply a lack of faith on their part.

3. I have made available Rev. Todd Pepperkorn's book I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression (get a free download copy here). I've mentioned it in one or two sermons and it flew off the shelf like hotcakes.

What do you Pastors, congregations, individuals suggest may be helpful if a more intentional support would be given to these families?

Just askin'

God bless you.


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