Thinking Out Loud

June 12, 2018

The PTSD Aftermath of a Painful Loss

Filed under: books — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:30 am

Canada’s Andrea Calvert has just released Not Alone: How God Helped Me Battle Depression through Word Alive Press. She’s also the daughter-in-law of some close friends who shared some of her story with me. I’ve been following her on Twitter and also just became aware of her blog, Inspiring Life Chats, where she’s been writing for nearly a year.

I want to begin with the publisher’s synopsis of the book, and then share a short excerpt Andrea sent us just for readers here.

Publisher Info:

Angry and hurt, Andrea didn’t want to have anything to do with God. How could she when, one day shy of her eighteenth birthday, she had to watch her mother being wheeled into the operating room of Toronto General Hospital to receive a liver transplant? How could a God that “loved” His people allow them to suffer so badly? Why did she have to spend so much time in and out of hospitals, watching the strongest woman she knew endure test after test? Watching this happen, Andrea came to the conclusion that no god would do that.

Then, on April 27, 2011, it was time to say goodbye. After ten long months of waiting for a second organ donation, Andrea’s mother made the decision to let go-it was the hardest thing Andrea had ever dealt with up to that point. The loss of her mother led her into a downward spiral of depression, PTSD, and anxiety. Andrea lost years of her life and still battles to this day with keeping her depression under control.

Jesus reached down and opened Andrea’s eyes at the darkest point of her depression. Searching for a way to deal with her pain, she called out to Jesus, who answered her prayers and called her back into His loving arms. What He has done in her life is nothing short of amazing-Jesus gave her purpose again!

This is her story…

Book excerpt:

I saw a therapist and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. I’d never considered depression and anxiety as an “illness.” I always figured that if you were suffering from an illness, you had a problem with your physical health, not your mental health. Mental health related to things like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, and I didn’t have either of those, so I was fine.

I absolutely hated myself. My feelings of failure returned, and I withdrew into myself. It was like taking five steps forward and ten steps back. I went back into the darkness. Depression is often like this; once you’ve dealt with some past hurt, you only have a few days before the next issue rears its ugly head. It’s a constant uphill battle. Even when you think things are going really well, someone can trigger an old memory and you’re right back where you started.

There I was, back where I’d started, after five months of counselling and six months of medication. I had to start over. In essence, I was “back on the couch” for more sleep. In actual fact, I’d been couch-bound for about six months. I’d never really freed myself from the lack of self-worth, anxiety attacks, and isolation. I thought no one wanted to be around me, because I certainly didn’t want to be around myself.

Even at rock bottom there was someone there with me. He had always been there. When I saw Mom under a mountain of hospital blankets, He was there. On the phone saying goodbye to her before she went to Toronto that rainy October night, He was there. Through the ten months of sickness and the “Liver That Never Was,” He was there. And now, when I needed a lifeline from the depths of darkness, He was standing up, dusting off His white robes, and getting ready to extend His hand. Jesus. He was with me, and He was sending someone to me. He was bringing me back to Him.

The 118-page paperback is just the right size for those who find themselves in the aftermath of a traumatic loss that is causing stress and depression. Priced at only 11.99 CDN it’s also affordable to give away to someone in the middle of such a situation.

ISBN 9781486616107 | 11.99 US / 11.99 CDN | Distributed to stores by Anchor Distributors and Spring Arbor (US), Word Alive (Canada) and available for customer purchase wherever you buy books.

Advertisements

October 30, 2016

Where’s My Casserole?

For that very small percentage of my readers who live in my local area, please know that as we often do at Thinking Out Loud, the purpose of today’s piece is to provoke thought and is not intended as criticism of any church or churches.

As readers here know, my mom died on October 10th. Because I have my feet planted in two local churches and am known to people in other churches as well, I felt very blessed to be surrounded by the prayers and support of a loving Christian community. The emails, cards and a couple of phone calls were deeply appreciated.

One of the two churches follows the larger church model that is probably familiar to many in Thinking Out Loud’s mostly American readership. There isn’t what’s called the “pastoral prayer” in weekend services, so hospitalizations and bereavements are therefore not always made known to the broader congregation. There is an email that goes out however, though I believe this is a different list than those who receive the weekly announcements email.

casseroleIt was many days after the funeral that in jest, I said, “Where’s our casserole?” It wasn’t that I wanted one, truthfully I don’t even like casserole, especially one that my wife didn’t make, as she is an excellent cook. But after we laughed — and laughter is something that was rather absent in the weeks before my mother’s passing — she noted that it might have been nice to come home the day of the funeral and simply stick something in the microwave…1

We showed up at North Point’s Buckhead Church on a rather quiet day in 2008 and got what I believe was a rather unique behind-the-scenes tour. There were things I didn’t know about Andy Stanley’s church; things you don’t see or don’t think about when you’re streaming the Sunday services. I wasn’t surprised that Andy doesn’t do weddings. A lot of megachurch pastors don’t. But even the army of campus pastoral staff doesn’t do them at any of their locations. There isn’t a chapel. The couple-to-be must source a location on their own, and then a North Point pastor will officiate. I suspect the funeral protocol is somewhat similar. A few years back, I do remember seeing this discussed on an FAQ page, but this week I couldn’t locate it…

I understand that things must change. In another time and place the local radio stations would broadcast funeral announcements at noon each day. They also interrupted programming if the police were trying to contact someone on an urgent family matter. (“Mr. Roger Millberry of Jefferson Heights, believed to be vacationing in the area is asked to contact police…”) Even the more progressive rock and roll stations persisted in this and more, including afternoon announcements of which horse took the win, place and show at the local track, well into the 1970s. (“Pinocchio, by a nose.”) Well, at least on AM. FM was too cool for such things.

Our church services have become performance-oriented and we certainly wouldn’t expect announcements of this type at the movies or sporting events, would we? But church is supposed to be different. It’s supposed to be about the family of God gathered together. This is what I believe Millennials are longing for and what will draw them into the Christian communities they will form. (That in turn begs the question we posed in February, what will happen to the abandoned megachurches?)

So you have to ask: Did God ever intended for church to look like today’s megachurch that now sets the agenda in even medium sized churches as well? Would members of the early church even recognize the form our weekend worship takes?2 And, Dude! Where’s my casserole?



1 It occurred to us later that there may be younger readers here unfamiliar with the tradition of church people bringing a casserole over to the house when there has been a bereavement or serious illness. (For the record, my wife’s friend brought us a half-gallon of pumpkin spice ice cream.)
2 One book I read recently suggested something along the lines that a First Century Christian would find a service at the megachurch similar to the shows the Romans staged in the arena. Hard to argue that one.
3 ADD does that to you.

October 18, 2016

Post Bereavement Recovery

Filed under: Christianity, family — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 2:48 pm

It’s amazing to think how long we’ve been running on adrenaline. I don’t recommend it.

Between all the stress leading up to my mother’s departure from this world to eternity, and then having to move her out of the long-term care facility within 24 hours (and taking an hour to help our son move the next day), and then planning her funeral (and having to attend another funeral out of town) today is the first day I’ve been able to slow down.

Even so, getting there hasn’t been easy. We drove back from the funeral in a horrendous rain storm. I realized that I needed to let Ruth drive. It wasn’t that my eyelids were getting droopy, it was more a case of I thought I might just instantly go to sleep. The dark, dark clouds were just adding to the stress of the drive.

So we stopped on an off-ramp and switched drivers. Several times I asked her if we should stop. “Not as long as I can see the line at the side of the road;” was her answer.

Then today began with a rather ominous sounding and unexpected email concerning my mom’s legal affairs. Our tension level ratcheted up another notch until we were able to get some clarification an hour later.

A few other personal observations:

  • If anxiety, stress, tension, etc., has messed up your sleep schedule, you’re not going to get a normal sleep pattern back right away.
  • It’s one thing to attend a funeral as family; it’s another thing to agree to “be the pastor” and “do” or “take” the funeral, including setting the program, coordinating the tributes, choosing the music (and playing for two songs) and doing all the speaking.
  • If it’s your mother/father/sister/brother who has passed away, that doesn’t mean your spouse is not bearing a lot of the stress and responsibility alongside of you. (Ruth, the slide show and memory book were amazing!)
  • There are always going to be details that fall through the cracks; things that didn’t get said, people you forgot to notify, guests you meant to spend more time with.
  • Grief may come later, much later, or at strange times in strange ways.

Does anyone have any other observations from their own journey?

 

December 14, 2013

Avoiding the Idea of Death

Filed under: writing — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:47 am

He is Away - She is AwayIn the days following the death of Nelson Mandela, there was talk of the South African people being a society that doesn’t like to “speak of death.”  A month earlier, I remember hearing or reading Skye Jethani speak of the “myth of continuity;” the idea being that we tend to think things are just going to continue just the way they are. Maybe that’s why stories of typhoons in The Philippines or tsunamis in Japan upset us: They not only are devastating stories but they devastate our thinking; they disrupt the paradigm.

It was in the middle of all this that we encountered these particular sympathy cards.  Do they have these where you live?  Your loved one hasn’t died, they are merely “away.” Is this anything like when I was in Grade Four and my friend Frank was “away” for two weeks with bronchitis? Not exactly. These are cards you send when your precious friend or close relative is “no longer with us.” This takes the phrase “passed away” — which I notice has recently been abbreviated to simply “passed” — and provides the “away” part instead.

So it’s not just the South Africans. Death sucks. Better to be away than to die, I guess.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.