Mental Illness Affects the Whole Family

Yesterday I began the task of going through my brother’s papers. After years in psychiatric hospitals and then group homes he passed away last June. I was his guardian.

When I saw the prompt for Five Minute Friday, I was already there emotionally. Sadness and REGRET.

When my Dad could no longer handle his  finances,  I  became  his  rep payee. I have years of bank records and medical records. I am discarding many of the papers, but keeping those that tell his life story.

My brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young adult. His illness shattered our family. Each of us was traumatized by the events that took place.

Over the years my sisters and I had our turn as advocate for our brother. We visited him in the hospital and arranged outings.

Among the papers that I accumulated, are papers that my parents saved. I found my brother’s birth certificate. And I found copies of letters that my father wrote seeking better care for him. Letters looking for answers. Letters from hospital administrators, doctors and a senator. A letter from another parent of a mentally ill son.

My brother’s life was tragic. I do wish that I had understood better the heartache that my parents carried for so many years.//

Now I have to trust God’s word.

And I heard a voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4

By Carol

Carol is a follower of Jesus and a wife, mom & grandma. She worked for many years as a childbirth nurse and prenatal educator. She recently retired from clinical work. She has written articles for nursing journals and devotionals. Her novel, Aliisa's Letter, was published in 2010 and she is currently working on another project.


  1. This sounds like such a tough journey for your whole family, Carol! Thanks for sharing your story. I love those verse from Revelation. They always give me hope that no matter how messy the middle of the story is we know how it ends, and I love God’s promise to make all things new.

  2. Oh, Carol! I am so sorry for your loss and for the journey that mental illness took your family on. We almost lost our daughter a few years ago to an undiagnosed mental illness. I have so many regrets about not having educated myself proactively about mental illnesses.

    1. Anita, thank-you for your message. I was talking with my husband about my regrets. We are limited in our perspective and often we can see things in hind sight. We have to trust God’s grace.

  3. My granddaughter is facing some mental health challenges and it is ripping at our family. I appreciate your post and thank you for your candor.

    1. Gabriele, I hope you can receive support from friends–especially people of faith. We need to be able to talk about mental illness within the church. I will pray for your family. My parents sought help from doctors and the government. They did not share their struggle with the church.

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