An acquaintance, an active person in his community, was faced with a devastating crisis due to the criminal behavior of his son who suffered from a mental illness. The story was published by the media and when he needed friends the most, they avoided him. Friends could have said; “I’m so sorry. This must be hard for you.” Not a single friend dared say; “I heard the news today. The newspaper report was terrible and I don’t know how I would feel if this were to happen to my son.”
This man, a wounded, distressed, long suffering father, needed the comfort of his friends. If somebody had acknowledged his hurt, it may have eased his pain somewhat. If a friend had invited him for coffee or dinner and given him a chance to talk about his problem, it could have been helpful.
There seems to be a lack of knowledge in response to crises where serious illnesses are concerned. Could this be due to fear? Yet, this man’s problems with his child did not occur as a consequence of bad parenting. Who knows whether genetics or home environment were to blame? Probably not. When parents realize that their child is not simply going through a rocky stage, they need support. Any problem with a child results in the parents feeling like emotional wrecks. They feel depressed, angry and maybe even guilty. They are surely on an emotional roller coaster with little chance of getting off. Understanding and empathy are the operative words here.