Treatment of Grief in the Therapeutic Community


Currently the American Psychiatric Association is in the process of classifying grief as an illness. I wonder if grief isn’t essential to being human  My own journey through the mental health system may shed some light on how it sees Christianity as a barrier to mental health and how that system seems to have lost sight of the welfare of those it is treating.  I invite your comments on this posting. Please let me know your own experiences.

After my husband took his own life I resumed therapy with a trusted therapist.  He was extremely helpful in the beginning.  He was supportive of my grief and helped me with my fears that I had neglected to see the signs of my husbands decline.  I worked with him for over a year.  In addition to the grief over my husband’s suicide I was dealing with the loss of my Christian faith which became a frequent topic of therapy. I often expressed to my therapist that I was grieving for God more than I was for my husband. My therapist failed to pick up the signal that the loss of faith was a major reason for my depression. I don’t know if his failure was due to incompetence or simply if he saw this as a chance to enlighten me with his view which was secular and saw meaning as relative.

I believe that though I was questioning my faith even before I met with this therapist, it might have been a simple step back to faith had I been encouraged to look at my doubts without relativist preconceptions.  I might have avoided a mental  breakdown.  Instead I became suicidal.  I was definitely planning to commit suicide at that time.

At this point the story becomes Kafkaesque.  My therapist called the police and reported that I was suicidal.  A Swat Team arrived at the house.  Though I made no attempt on my life the police forced me to go to the hospital for evaluation.  When I arrived there, I called my therapist as he had asked me to do and which I assumed was out of  concern for my welfare.  Instead he arranged with the head psychiatrist to force me to admit myself.  The nurse who had evaluated my mental state was ready to release me.  Instead I was admitted to the hospital  involuntarily. Later when I met with the psychiatrist he told me he was going to put me away in a state hospital for a month which was the maximum amount of time for an involuntarily admission.  He then told me I wasn’t going to like it.  He was definitely angry with me.  I believe this stemmed from what my therapist had told him.

Eventually I was able to get released on condition of out-patient treatment.  My therapist told the hospital that he would no longer treat me.  When the hospital released me I was without any support.  I had appointments with an unknown psychiatrist for medication and a social worker for therapy.  Both proved incompetent.  When I called my original therapist, he refused to talk to me until I had another therapist so that he would no longer be responsible for my care.  Then he would only say that he didn’t want to see me further.  When I asked for referrals to proficient therapists he gave me a list out of a directory most of whom didn’t take my health insurance or were not taking new patients.  He made no effort to help me find genuine help.

This experience was worse for me than my husband’s suicide.  The loss and humiliation left me feeling helpless.  The disillusion at the hands of my therapist was devastating.  At least my husbands desertion was because of illness.

4 thoughts on “Treatment of Grief in the Therapeutic Community

  1. Thanks for dropping in at ‘flyoverhere’. I am so sorry for your grief and the lack of support the professional world has provided. I recently lost my mother. She was 82 but I chronicled much of my experience and thoughts on the blog. Grief is a process we all go through in life and we all handle it differently. My faith is the rock I stand on and without it I wouldn’t survive. I will pray for you…..

  2. I think you’re right in saying ” My therapist failed to pick up the signal that the loss of faith was a major reason for my depression” — some therapists and doctors don’t want to address a spiritual aspect at all. I think that they’re not really trained in most schools with how to address this, and some seem to be hostile toward those who profess a belief in God. Your experience of what happened in your time of need is a very disturbing one. I do believe that there are spiritual forces around us, as scripture says (Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”), and bizarre behavior like your therapist displayed in your story could be the result of that spiritual warfare going on. Your belief in God is a threat to someone who wants desperately to believe that there is no God. It would be better for them to view Christians as crazy than to consider the possibility that they need a Savior.

  3. Pingback: Part II: My State of Mental Illness…right now…and what true friends do for each other. « mentalillnesstoday

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