Friday, March 04, 2005

MY FATHER'S WORDS

My father who was an educator, missionary and minister wrote the following words before his death in 1989.


“We experienced great disappointment and frustration that our child with outstanding ability was unable to cope in work or school. It was difficult during the earlier years of his illness to differentiate between his mental illness and adolescent behavior. We felt some of our friends and colleagues did not accept us in the usual manner because of our son’s behavior, that they considered us less respectable because of a non-conforming member of the family. The mentally ill and their families have a special need for people to befriend them, not in sympathy but in understanding and support. .......... There were times we did not know where Edward was, even for weeks. We wondered whether he had food or shelter, and even whether he was alive. It was very difficult for me to swallow food, not knowing whether he had anything to eat. .......... When Ed was at home we would lie awake at night and listen, for fear he would get up and try to leave. Once when i found him on the street and brought him home, he did not even recognize the house, and he said he did not have a key when he suggested that he go into the room where he usually slept. We offered him coffee and he said he didn’t have any money to pay for it. ............ One of the most painful experiences was visiting him on a locked ward in a hospital and hearing the door being locked behind us as we left without being able to take him home with us. ....... A few months ago Edward told us about the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. We found out about groups meeting in our area and started attending monthly meetings of two of these support groups. Until then we felt isolated, knowing no one else personally who shared our problems and feelings. ........ Our son has made us more aware than ever of the spiritual needs of the mentally ill and their families. There is stigma and a lack of knowledge concerning mental illness to be overcome. Stigma must be erased and replaced with compassion.. It is not easy to stand before my peers and state that I have a son who is mentally ill and that we should have a ministry in our church to help alleviate the stigma and to reach out in love and compassion to the mentally ill and their families as we do when someone has a physical illness. I must continue to do so, and so must others if this problem of neglect is to be addressed with the emphasis and implementation that it deserves.”


I think this piece has a lot to say. It is not his complete version, but important parts I have shared. I am rather sure he never grew proud of me, but he came to better terms about having a son with mental illness before he died. The church he was a leader in never did start a ministry and he made few presentations on the subject.
The point of sharing this is to say how very hard it is on everyone. Mental Illness is no walk in the park. A broken brain and a shattered soul needs a home. A place to be embraced.


Ed


If you do not want to leave a comment here you can email me directly at eecoop_2000@yahoo.com

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