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The Trinity Of Depression

Beck (1963, 1964) noted the way depressed patients interpreted their current life experiences.  The depressed person tended to distort their experiences; they misinterpreted specific, irrelevant events in terms of personal failure, deprivation, or rejection; they tended to greatly exaggerate or overgeneralize any event that bore any semblance of negative information about themselves; they also tended to obsess over making indiscriminate, negative predictions of the future.  It is important to note that the depressed person’s cognitions reflect a systematic bias against oneself.  Because of this overemphasis of negative data to the relative exclusion of positive data, the label “cognitive distortion” is most appropriate when describing the thinking of depressed persons.

When an individual suffers from cognitive distortions they develop other idiosyncratic negative thematic content not observed in those of nondepressed persons.  This is referred to as the Triad of Depression.

A negative view of self.  The depressed individual shows a marked tendency to view himself/herself as deficient, inadequate, unworthy, and to attribute their unpleasant experiences to a physical, mental, or moral defect in himself/herself.  Furthermore, they regard themselves as undesirable and worthless because of their presumed defects and tends to reject himself/herself (and to believe others will reject him/her) because of it.

A negative view of the world. His/Her interactions with the environment are interpreted as representing defeat, deprivation, or disparagement.  He/She views the world as making exorbitant demands on him/her and presenting obstacles which interfere with the achievement of his/her life goals.

A negative view of the future. The future is seen from a negative perspective and revolves around a series of negative expectations.  The depressed person anticipates that his/her current problems and experiences will continue indefinitely and that he/she will increasingly burden significant others in his/her life.

I can name countless students who present in our ministries like this every day.  What are we doing, teaching, and modeling that would challenge the negative views of themselves, their world, or their future?  The triad exists when there is no hope.  Are we telling a story that communicates that there is hope for our personal redemption (through Christ), reconciliation in our relationship (with the Father), and a guiding, sustaining presence when times get dark (by the Spirit)?

Mobile Phones and Adolescent Depression

By Ian Ball

There are increased problems associated with the improper usages of mobile phones by adolescents; however, modern technological advancements also put its footsteps to use mobile phones as a wonderful device to identify adolescent depression. The Murdoch Children Research Institute claims for the crown in this aspect exclusively for its wonderful innovation.

The Murdoch Children Research Institute

The Murdoch Children Research Institute offers its valuable contribution to the field of research primarily focusing on different health aspects of children and adolescents. It is considered as the one of major child health research institutes around the world. The research team comprises of 900 passionate research scholars who are continuously contributing in the research era with their detailed understanding and creative aptitude.

The Innovation

The Murdoch Children Research Institute is offering a Java-based mobile application that enables an understanding of observation and early identification of warning-sign of adolescent depression. It is assumed to be first ever made application that can be used for such purpose.

The research had been conducted in Australia with a focus group consisting of 40 young individuals. The adolescents were supplied with Nokia 6260 where the application was pre-loaded.

As noted by Dr. Sophie Reid, adolescents’ anxiety and depression have become one of the major complications that need to take into serious consideration. The present strength of the adolescent sufferers may include a population of more than 30% and there is an increased possibility that this complication will strike the nation as one of the serious ones during 2020.

The application will primarily concern the idea how youngsters responds to the signal of distress. The application collects all the relevant data pertaining to the adolescents’ response to distress; this essentially comes out with several questionnaires popping up on the screen in a regular interval.

After one week, the researchers downloaded all the data using Bluetooth technology or infrared facilities and then analyzed the data.

The Future

However the application is a promising one in order to find out a real-time application for monitoring and detecting changes in health aspects. In recent future, the researchers are expecting to implement automated code generation technology to make the system more sophisticated refraining from the need to employ programmers. It also plans to include voice capturing facilities especially for open-ended questions. The Murdoch Children Research Institute collaborated with Harvard Medical Institute to make a safer place for implementing this technology in near future.

Adolescent Depression

The statistics on teen depression are sobering. Studies indicate that one in five children have some sort of mental, behavioral, or emotional problem, and that one in ten may have a serious emotional problem. Among adolescents, one in eight may suffer from depression. Of all these children and teens struggling with emotional and behavioral problems, a mere 30% receive any sort of intervention or treatment. The other 70% simply struggle through the pain of mental illness or emotional turmoil, doing their best to make it to adulthood.

The consequences of untreated depression can be increased incidence of depression in adulthood, involvement in the criminal justice system, or in some cases, suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24. Even more shocking, it is the sixth leading cause of death among children ages 5-14. The most troubling fact is that these struggling teens often receive no counseling, therapy, or medical intervention, even though the National Institute of Mental Health reports that studies show treatments of depression in children and adolescents can be effective.


Social Determinants and ACE Scores Determine Outcomes for At-Risk Youth

Researchers at Chapin Hall conducted a study of the SCAN (Support, Connect, and Nurture) program. This program integrates Family Developments Specialist services and assessment of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Events) with health care and behaviors related to social determinants of health. The results are interesting and could have a huge impact on all youth-serving organizations.

What are social determinants?

The Social determinants of health are the economic and social conditions that influence individual and group differences in health status. They are the health-promoting factors found in one’s living and working conditions (such as the distribution of income, wealth, influence, and power), rather than individual risk factors (such as behavioral risk factors or genetics) that influence the risk for a disease, or vulnerability to disease or injury. The distributions of social determinants are often shaped by public policies that reflect prevailing political ideologies of the area.

The World Health Organization says, “This unequal distribution of health-damaging experiences is not in any sense a ‘natural’ phenomenon but is the result of a toxic combination of poor social policies, unfair economic arrangements [where the already well-off and healthy become even richer and the poor who are already more likely to be ill become even poorer], and bad politics.”

What are Adverse Childhood Events?

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study) is a research study conducted by the U.S. health maintenance organization Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Participants were recruited to the study between 1995 and 1997 and have been in long-term follow up for health outcomes. The study has demonstrated an association of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) (aka childhood trauma) with health and social problems across the lifespan.

Participants were asked about different types of childhood trauma that had been identified in earlier research literature:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical neglect
  • Emotional neglect
  • Exposure to domestic violence
  • Household substance abuse
  • Household mental illness
  • Parental separation or divorce
  • Incarcerated household member

About two-thirds of individuals reported at least one adverse childhood experience; 87% of individuals who reported one ACE reported at least one additional ACE. The number of ACEs was strongly associated with adulthood high-risk health behaviors such as smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, promiscuity, and severe obesity, and correlated with ill-health including depression, heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, and shortened lifespan. Compared to an ACE score of zero, having four adverse childhood experiences was associated with a seven-fold (700%) increase in alcoholism, a doubling of risk of being diagnosed with cancer, and a four-fold increase in emphysema; an ACE score above six was associated with a 30-fold (3000%) increase in attempted suicide.

The ACE study’s results suggest that maltreatment and household dysfunction in childhood contribute to health problems decades later. These include chronic diseases—such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes—that are the most common causes of death and disability in the United States.

What does this mean for youth-serving organizations?

A potential intervention point is to address resiliency to mitigate the impacts of ACEs. High resiliency moderated the impact of ACEs on self-reported depression, and resiliency was related to lower rates of substance use (tobacco and alcohol), greater satisfaction with weight, healthier eating, more exercise, and greater overall health. Evidence-based programs designed to build resilience following childhood trauma should be integrated into programming, where ever possible, for any youth-serving organization.

For more information on helping your organization become trauma-informed, contact us to discuss our Trauma Stewardship Training. This is perfect training for churches, outreach programs, and other youth-serving organizations.


The Cost of Coming Out

Homelessness is a critical issue for America’s youth. According to the True Colors Fund, a nonprofit organization working to end homelessness in the LGBT community, 1.6 million youth are homeless each year and up to 40 percent of them identify as LGBT. Because LGBT youth represent only 7 percent of the total youth population, there is a staggering disproportion of homelessness among these populations.

Despite this sobering statistic, there are currently no federal programs specifically designed to meet the needs of gay and transgender homeless youth. This means that, in many cases, LGBT youth are left without the resources and assistance provided to other homeless populations.

Youth-serving professionals should have a clear understanding of the unique needs, risk factors, and challenges facing LGBT homeless youth in order to design and deliver the best possible services to their clients.

A Subpopulation at Risk

For all youth, homelessness has a negative effect on normal development. The National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) defines this demographic as “unaccompanied youth aged 12 to 24 years,” and includes four major categories: runaway, transitory or episodic, unaccompanied homeless youth, and street dependent youth. In terms of LGBT demographics, the NAEH reports that homeless youth are disproportionately African-American or American Indian and are often from lower-income communities.

Homelessness can lead to mental, physical, and behavioral issues that last a lifetime.

Aside from being at greater risk for homelessness, LGBT youth are also likely to become homeless at younger ages, according to Child Trends, a leading nonprofit research organization focused on improving the lives of children, youths, and their families.

There are regional differences in LGBT youth homelessness as well, with higher percentages on the East and West Coasts. In Seeking Shelter: The Experiences and Unmet Needs of LGBT Homeless Youth, the Center for American Progress reports that 25 to 50 percent of the youth homeless population identifies as LGBT in those regions compared to 10 to 25 percent in the Midwest. “It is possible that homeless LGBT youth migrate to the coasts to seek more accepting communities or places where there are greater legal protections or programmatic options to serve LGBT communities,” the report continues.

Pathways to LGBT Youth Homelessness

There are many reasons why LGBT youth may face homelessness, but the most critical factors are focused on family units. The True Colors Fund notes that family conflict is the most common cause of all youth homelessness, but this is even more significant for LGBT populations:

“Half of all teens get a negative reaction from their parents when they come out to them,” and more than one in four are forced to leave their homes.

According to a study by the Williams Institute, which surveyed 354 agencies that work with LGBT homeless populations, 68 percent of clients have experienced family rejection. The NAEH reports similar findings, noting that youth consistently report severe family conflict as the primary reason for their homelessness.

  • 50% of all teens get a negative reaction from their parents when they come out to them
  • 1 in 4 teens are forced to leave their homes after coming out to their parents
  • 68%of teens have experienced family rejection after coming out to their family

Nowhere Safe to Go

Family rejection at young ages can have lasting negative effects, and unfortunately, LGBT youth experiencing homelessness don’t always find a safety net in their communities. The NAEH notes that there is a national shortage of youth shelters and housing programs, which can lead to youth being denied assistance upon leaving their family homes.

Social services can be a short-term solution, but studies show that “12 to 36 percent of emancipated foster care youth will report being homeless at least once after discharge from care,” the NAEH reports. Youth may also leave their housing placements to avoid unfair treatment, abuse, or harassment, the Center for American Progress notes.

LGBT youth are also underserved when it comes to health care services. The True Colors Fund notes that there is a shortage of clinics and facilities that meet the population’s unique needs. In addition, some facilities won’t treat minors without the consent of a parent or guardian. While a growing number of facilities and organizations are dedicated to providing care specifically for LGBT homeless youth, there is still much work to be done.

Critical Issues Affecting LGBT Homeless Youth

Because they are often without a family to turn to, LGBT homeless youth are at risk of mental health issues, substance abuse, crime, and victimization. According to the On the Streets report, “The instability of homelessness causes physical and emotional stress for homeless youth. When combined with the stigma of a gay and/or transgender identity, this stress can cause youth to experience mental illness.”

The same report notes that “gay homeless youth were more likely to suffer from major depression than heterosexual homeless youth, and lesbian homeless youth were more likely to have post-traumatic-stress syndrome than heterosexual homeless young women.”

These mental health risk factors can increase the likelihood of risky behaviors like substance abuse and unprotected sex. According to the Seeking Shelter report, “42 percent of gay homeless youth abuse alcohol compared to 27 percent of heterosexual youth,” and intravenous drug use is significantly more common than among heterosexual homeless youth. Child Trends reports that 58 percent of LGBT youth reported having been sexually victimized as well.

Living a homeless or transient lifestyle can also lead to crime. The Seeking Shelter report notes that family rejection and involvement in the juvenile justice system are “undeniably intertwined,” and leaving home because of family rejection puts youth at a higher risk of involvement with the juvenile justice system in the future. “This is in part because running away from home is often a status offense that triggers judicial intervention,” the report explains.

Perhaps most significantly, the report notes that homelessness, system placement, and involvement in the justice system may be cyclical:

“Incarceration and involvement in juvenile justice systems for these youth is caused by the criminalization of homelessness itself … LGBT homeless youth may thus be both driven into homelessness because of their relationship to juvenile justice and child welfare institutions, and are driven back into these systems due to their lack of housing.”

Taking Action

What are the resources available to you and the LGBTQ youth you serve in your local community?

2019 International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers


Yesterday was International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Rates of violence against those involved in sex work are extremely high. Even locally we see high rates against sex workers from pimps, Johns, and law enforcement. The problem is, often these workers are not believed or taken seriously and are even victim-shamed for engaging in sex work, to begin with. This implies they deserve whatever happens because they “chose” to be a sex worker.

Hundreds of people are working as sex workers in Central Illinois. Street-based sex work, clubs/bars, hotels/motels, internet-based, escort services, massage parlors, truck stops, etc. This data was collected by Jolt Harm Reduction over the last 6 months from their outreach team members while providing outreach services across Central Illinois. This is real data from right here in our hometown. This isn’t information from a faraway land. This is happening in our own backyard.

86.4% Female
9.1% Male
4.5% Trans (MTF)

77.3% White
13.6% AfAm
9.1% Puerto Rican

Highest Level of Education
54.5% High School
36.4% College/University
9.1% Middle School

Relationship Status
71.4% Single
23.8% In a Relationship
4.8% Divorced

Do You Have Children?
72.7% Yes
27.3% No

Are They Still In Your Care?
82.4% No
17.6% Yes

When Did You Start Sex Work?
50% 18-25
40.9% Under 18
9.1% 25-30

Where Do You Sleep at Night?
45% Rental/Home
20% Relative’s Home
15% Hotel/Motel
15% Street or Public Spaces
5% Friend

Why Do You Work in the Sex Industry?
81.8% It pays the bills
63.6% It supports my drug use
Average Number of Years Worked
8 years

Who Do You Have Sex With?
59.1% Men
31.8% Women
72.7% Both

How Do You Hook Up?
63.6% Online Sites/Apps
45.5% Strip Clubs
45.5% Hotels/Motels
38.7% Street

Paying Partners (24 hours)
78.9% 1-3
21.1% 4-6

Paying Partners (30 days)
28.6% 1-10
14.3% 11-20
14.3% 21-30
14.3% 81-90

Paying Partners (12 months)
42.9% 300+
19% 1-25
9.5% 26-50
9.5% 51-75
9.5% 100-150

If You Have a Pimp/Manager, What Percentage of Profit Do They Take?
40% 50%
30% 25%
27% 75%
2.3% 95%

While Engaged in Sex Work Has Physical Force or a Weapon Ever Used Against You?
77.3% Yes
22.7% No

Average Age of Assault
21.9 years

Number of Perpetrators
41.2% 3+
35.3% 2
17.6% 1

Describe Physical Force Used Against You
“Punched, kicked, pistol wiped”
“Non-consensual, restrained, kicked punched, burnt, raped with objects, spit on, pistol-whipped, gun shoved in the mouth”
“Kicked in the head’
“Punched, shoved, slapped, stabbed”
“Slapped, kicked, thrown down stairs, bitten, gun pulled, knife held to my throat”
“Guns, knives, tied up and held against my will, hit and kicked”
“Raped, being hit, smacked, shoved down, choked or tied down. Gun pulled on me once (non-consensual or fetish related)”
“Raped at knifepoint and drugged and raped”
“Smacking and choked”
“Pistol whipped, locked in a room”
“Held down and threatened with a knife once and the other I was drugged and raped”

Sustained Injury?
80.3% Yes
19.7% No

Sexual Assault/Abuse (Under 12)
95.5% Yes
4.5% No

Sexual Assault/Abuse (Over 12)
90.9% Yes
9.1% No

Physical Assault/Abuse (Under 12)
90.9% Yes
9.1% No

Physical Assault/Abuse (Over 12)
90.5% Yes
9.5% No

Were You Present When Someone Else Was Harmed, Killed, Seriously Injured, Sexually or Physically?
77.3% Yes
22.7% No

If You Reported an Assault/Rape to Law Enforcement How Did They Respond?
54.5% They Victim-Shamed Me and Told Me It Was My Fault
27.3% They Believed Me and Assisted Me
18.2% The Did Not Believe Me and Offered No Assistance
18.2% They Charged Me With a Crime

Do You Have a Mental Health Diagnosis?
80% PTSD
60% Depression
60% Anxiety

Do You Use Drugs or Alcohol?
90.5% Yes
9.5% No

Increase or Decrease in SU After Starting Sex Work?
86.4% Increase
13.6% Stayed the Same

What is/are the Greatest Risks to Sex Work?
“Forgetting about the pain”
“Rape, abuse or death”
“Getting an std”
“Fear of being physically hurt or killed”
“Feeling like I have nothing more to offer the world besides sex”
“Bodily harm, STD, Death”
“My life. I was almost killed 3 different times”
“Murdered, STIs, getting pregnant by a john, physically harmed”
“Being arrested, robbed, raped”
“Being abused and disrespected. Fearing death at times”
“I guess getting an STI or being assaulted again”
“Diseases, risk of violence”
“Put me in risky situations/ STI”
“I’m always worried someone will turn out crazy or violent or stalk me”
“Killed and beaten up”
“My life and wellbeing. I expect to die because of a john”
“Getting sick or beat up”

We’d also like to remind everyone that not all sex work is driven pathologically. Many do it because of the earning potential and they enjoy it. Let’s not demonize nor pathologize sex work. Sex work is actual work and provides a needed service for many people. We just think people that do it should be able to do it without risk of harm.

Homeless Youth and Foster Care

Youth experiencing homelessness seem to be drawn to our center. They often congregate there to cool off in the air conditioning, get some cold water and snacks, hygiene supplies, take a sink bath in our bathroom, use the free wifi to look up resources, apply for jobs, communicate with others, and make plans for the day. It’s almost like they use it as a home base.

I also think they come here because we remember their names. That’s important. We learn their stories, their fears, hopes, and hurts. They are seen, and for many, for the first time in a long time.

Tens of thousands of young people experience homelessness each year. On the streets, they face serious dangers. Young people often resort to sex work to make money for food, and many turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to deal with the trauma or abuse they have experienced at home. We also hear these stories first hand.

More than half of homeless youth became homeless for the first time because they were asked to leave home by a parent or caregiver.

On average, the youth became homeless for the first time at age 15.

While on 7% of the total youth population identifies at LGBTQIA+ they account for over 40% of all homeless youth.

The average youth spent nearly two years living on the streets.

Fifty-three percent of youth were unable to access a shelter because it was full.

The types of service needs youth identified focused on meeting basic needs — access and challenges related to safe shelter (55.3%), education (54.6%), and employment (71.3%) — and basic supports like transportation (66.6%), clothing (60.4%), and laundry facilities (54.0%).

While homeless, 78.6% of participants had slept in an emergency shelter or transitional living program.

More than 60% of youth in the study were raped, beaten up, robbed, or otherwise assaulted while homeless; 14.5% of participants had been sexually assaulted or raped; 32.3% had been beaten up; 18.3% had been assaulted with a weapon; 40.5% had been threatened with a weapon; and 40.8% had been robbed.

Almost two-thirds of participants (61.8%) reported symptoms associated with depression and were at risk of experiencing clinical depression. Nearly 72% reported having experienced major trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse or witnessing or being a victim of violence, at some point in their lives.

In the sample group, 41.1% identified as Black or African American, 33.3% as white only, 25.7% as Hispanic or Latino/Latina, 21.7% identified as being two or more races, 3% identified as American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.5% identified as Asian, and 0.2% identified as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

Fifty-four percent identified as male and 45.6% identified as female.

Nearly 30 % of participants identified as part of a vulnerable population.

At the time of the interview, 14.2% of the participants reported caring for children and 9.0% reported being pregnant.

Only 29.5% of respondents reported that they had the option of returning home.

We must do better. The systemic abandonment they experience it traumatic. More often than not the most effective first step is creating an environment free of judgment. Next, it’s likely housing, which is complicated if they are minors. One of the easiest ways to address the housing issue is to become a licensed foster caregiver and to let your agency/DCFS know that you want older kids.

A majority of foster caregivers want young children or babies. While we understand that, it’s these teens that rarely find or remain in adequate placement. So, they end up on the streets and age/or age out of the system. This cannot be acceptable to those of us who are called to love.

If you are interested in fostering older youth/teens, reach out to your local foster care agency and just begin exploring the idea. You don’t even have to commit to doing anything, just start looking into what it might look like to house and love an at-risk teen.

Thirteen Reasons Why (Season 2) Is Back

The controversial Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why is back for its sophomore season. The producers promised to further delve into the challenging subject matter initiated in season one, placing the spotlight on sexual assault and gun violence.

We’re busy at work developing discussion guides for season two but, in the meantime, here are our discussion guides for each episode of season one:

Thirteen Reasons Why Discussion Guides: Season One

If you are not familiar with the subject content of this series, BE WARNED. Each episode has content that can be triggering to people who have experienced trauma and/or suffer from depression and self-injury.

It is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED that the series be watched with parents or other adults to help process the strong visual content and to help manage the risk of triggering stimulus. If you are particularly vulnerable to strong visual triggers, it is recommended you not watch. 

If you, at any time, feel helpless and hopeless and are considering harming yourself or contemplating taking your life, please call one of the hotlines below to talk with a trained staff member immediately, call 9-1-1, or go to your closest emergency room.


The Fringe: A Gathering Place fro LGBTQIA+ Youth, their Families, and Allies

A safe and supportive space for LGBTQIA+ youth, families, friends, and their allies from around Central Illinois. This is a non-religious endeavor. Even though Conversations on the Fringe has faith-ties (but is affirming and inclusive), The Fringe Gathering Place is not religious. This is to ensure everyone feels welcome in this space. All are welcome!

This initiative is being launched after a two-year-long study of LGBTQIA+ youth. Each student engaged in face-to-face interviews, submitted written responses to an extensive questionnaire, or completed an online survey. We had over one hundred participants. The questions focused on family acceptance/rejection, coming out, stressors, intersections, trauma/bullying, social alienation/acceptance, substance abuse/mental health issues, suicidality, and faith experiences.

The results of our study closely reflected the national statistics, LGBTQIA+ youth are susceptible to suicidal ideation.

  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24.
  • LGB youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth.
  • LGB youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth.
  • Of all the suicide attempts made by youth, LGB youth suicide attempts were almost five times as likely to require medical treatment than those of heterosexual youth.
  • Suicide attempts by LGB youth and questioning youth are 4 to 6 times more likely to result in injury, poisoning, or overdose that requires treatment from a doctor or nurse, compared to their straight peers.
  • In a national study, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25.
  • LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.
  • 1 out of 6 students nationwide (grades 9–12) seriously considered suicide in the past year.
  • Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average.


There is an immense need for more safe and affriming spaces in the Peoria area for queer youth.

Over time, we hope to provide the following service/supports for youth in our area:

  • Mentoring/Peer Mentoring
  • Health/Wellness Education (testing/prevention)
  • Support Groups (trans, family, depression, substance abuse, etc.)
  • Referrals (healthcare, mental health, substance abuse, etc.)
  • Advocacy/Activism
  • Family Support
  • Harm Reduction (inclusive sex and sexuality education)
  • Social Events (trips, art classes, dances, etc.)

We have two important dates coming up. If you are interested in either you are invited to attend.

Important Dates:

Youth Leadership Board Meeting – May 2nd, 5:30pm – 7:30pm

Adult Advisory Board Meeting – May 9th, 6:00pm – 8:00pm

If you are interested in joining the adult advisory board or the youth leadership board contact us at

Join us on Facebook:

If you are interested in volunteering, please email us at or stop by and visit us at 1411 NE Adams St. Peoria, Illinois 61603.

Myths About Grief

I am all too familiar with grief.  It has been a constant companion in the work I do, working with people who struggle with substance misuse, have a mental health diagnosis, the homeless, and marginalized youth, like LTGBQIA+ teens. I have a background in emergency medical care first working as a paramedic and then later in an ER as part of a trauma team. I have also worked on a surgical team that would procure tissue and organs for donation post-mortem. As a counselor working with the population I do, I frequently get the “call” we all dread. Whether it is death, accident, injury, or loss of a relationship, grief is an unwelcome visitor.

I have also experienced grief in ministry. I remember the details of all the student deaths that occurred. I remember specifically talking with students, friends, family members, staff and volunteers and not being able to satisfactorily answer the “why” questions.

Weekly I see status updates from youth ministry friends asking for resources to provide students and families on the subject of death and grief. Many are unsure how to lead a group of young people through the challenging journey of grief as well as how to navigate that journey of their own. That is why we felt compelled to debunk myths surrounding grief.

Myths About Grief:

Grief and mourning are the same things.

Grief and mourning are inseparable, grief is the emotional, internal processing of loss/bereavement and mourning is the expression of that grief.  For example, grief is filled with feelings of sadness, anger, and thoughts that contribute to the intensity of those emotions.  Examples of mourning are crying, talking about the person who has died, or celebrating special dates related to the deceased.  Not expressing the grief through mourning can be a barrier to healing.

Grief and mourning follow a linear and orderly pattern.

The “Stages of Grief” popularized by Elizabeth Kubler Ross was never meant to be a definitive prescription for dealing with grief where you checked off each stage as you progress beyond it.  There is no one way that an individual grieves and mourns.  For every individual that experiences grief, there is a unique expression of that grief, based on numerous variables. Don’t get caught up in, “Am I grieving the right way?”.

You should move away from grief, not toward it.

It is toxic to the soul to repress what longs to be expressed.  Job stripped off his clothes, scraped himself with shards of pottery, and sat in a heap of ashes that came from everything he had, and he sat there for a long time.  He could have immediately started to “put the pieces back together” but literally just sat in his grief.  He moved into it.  Minimizing grief and avoiding the mourning process tends to lead to isolation and confusion and even deep depression.

The goal should be to “get over it” as soon as possible.

I hear many people say, “I should be over this by now”.  I hear others say the same thing about those in mourning, implying that it is bad to feel bad for too long.  As we reconcile the loss in our lives with being able to move forward there can be a renewed sense of hope and power surge into our spirit but that does not mean we are done grieving or mourning.  We can sense movement but still be in process and that is what many experience when they reach that point.  The ever-present, sharp pain in the heart will eventually change into an accepted and acknowledged sense of loss.  The sense of loss will likely never completely go away but will dull over time.

I have to be strong = No tears/emotions.

We live in a toxic culture that is repulsed by “signs of weakness”.  Tears, strong emotions and general sadness are looked down upon.  How many times have you heard a parent say, “Knock that off or I’ll give you a reason to cry”?  This implies that there is no reason to cry, so STOP!

Usually, when people try to console a crying individual it is because they are uncomfortable with that expression of grief and often feel powerless to help stop the pain you are experiencing.  God stores up our tears in a bottle the Psalmist tells us and knows what is in each one.  He values the tears you shed and is likely shedding tears of the same thing because death was never in His plan.

The individual is the only loss.

Individuals who are mourning are not just mourning the loss of the individual who has died but also all the dreams associated with that relationship.  Other issues that may contribute to the intensity of the grief could be the financial cost/loss, future plans, memories to be made, etc.  The intensity of grief is typically driven by these future-oriented losses as well.  Allow time to process and speak about these additional losses as part of the grief journey.

Have you experienced grief/loss in ministry?  Have you heard these myths from those you walked with?  Have you felt or believed these myths yourself?  How will you address these myths looking forward?

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