Friday, June 08, 2018
Support for the Suffering
The other evening one of the Jeopardy categories was famous fashion designers, which isn't exactly my wheelhouse. I did surprisingly well, all considered, but I was totally clueless about Kate Spade, who was a fashion writer first, then a successful designer of women's handbags, eventually with her eponymous label on a whole bunch of stuff later. The next day we heard that Kate Spade had taken her own life at the age of 55, a tragic development.
In a subsequent interview with her sister it was revealed that Spade suffered from crippling anxiety and depression for years. Some of that stemmed from the tone of the brand she created, which has been described as upbeat and hopeful. The pressure of maintaining that outward persona as the front person for her products when it was not her inner reality may have contributed to her despair. While Spade was no longer living with her husband he was still a loving support, doing everything he could to help her receive treatment, both for her sake and that of their 13-year-old daughter.
This morning there was news of the suicide death of another celebrity, award-winning chef Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain was in the Canadian public eye recently because he spent time in Newfoundland for an episode of his Parts Unknown television series. He was only 61 and his death in a hotel room in France came as a shock to colleagues.
Through my years in ministry I discovered that depression and mental illness are no respecters of status or wealth, or the love of family and friends. I presided at the funerals of those who could no longer stand the pain of daily living even though they were encouraged and supported by those around them, including members of their faith communities. Thank God that the terrible stigma around suicide has largely lifted in the church, although judgment hasn't disappeared altogether.
We need to be vigilant and learn about how to support those in despair and to be prayerful on their behalf. Resurrection life in meant to be a present reality, not just a future promise, and our involvement is essential. If we are the sufferers, we can reach out to those around us and seek God's loving embrace.
This is World Oceans Day. Read my thoughts about it at my Groundling blog