In the first part of this blog, I wrote about the documented positive relationship between spirituality and chronic disease. Part II of this blog suggests ways in which families living with a chronic illness can reach out to the spiritual community, and how religious organizations can better support those living with a chronic illness.
Families wishing to receive support from their religious community may find the following steps helpful in gaining support:
1. Let the religious community closest to your family know about the medical condition affecting your family. This could happen discretely by explaining the situation to an elder in the spiritual community, or more openly by writing a brief description of the situation including the specific needs of your family and asking that the information be posted in the organization's newsletter.
2. Inquire directly about the types of supports available from neighboring religious organizations. For example, some churches have programs and funds set aside specifically for community assistance. Oftentimes, you do not have to be a member of that particular organization to receive the assistance, but instead may qualify just by living in the community they serve.
Religious organizations can better support those living with a chronic illness in a variety of ways such as:
1. Understanding the frequency of occurrence of chronic illness and disability within the families in your community. Factors such as decreased mobility or isolation due to depressive feelings about the illness can make some of these families less visible. But don't be fooled...The U.S. Census Bureau released a mid-decade report showing that more than 51 million Americans had a disability in 2002. This number represents nearly 20% of the United States population. The number of individuals living with a chronic illness is much higher.
2. Educate your spiritual community about the potential challenges faced by a family living with a chronic disease like GERD. Asking someone in your community who lives with the condition to explain the daily challenges may be a good way to understand the disease and that family's particular situation.
3. Make well-known any assistance your organization has available. Families living with a chronic illness may be overwhelmed by the daily tasks of survival, and often are not able to reach out for assistance even if it is desperately needed. Some may be unjustly embarrassed by their situation. Therefore, making your programs and goals clear could be mutually beneficial.
These are just a few specific suggestions for ways in which religious connectedness may enhance the social, material and psychological resources for families living with a chronic illness like GERD.
Published On: July 11, 2007