Even with the onset of the Affordable Care Act there are still many in Jackson County who don’t have proper access to services that address mental health and substance abuse issues. The Outpatient Counseling program offered by Catholic Charities of Jackson, Lenawee and Hillsdale provides those services on a sliding scale to Jackson residents who qualify. The program emphasizes using a strengths-based perspective by using a person’s natural abilities and supports to overcome hardship and illness in addition to maintaining good mental health and positive relationships once treatment ends. The Outpatient Counseling Program focuses on providing clients with the skills, tools, coping mechanisms and enhancement of community supports in order to lead a healthy and productive life.
This real-life story involving Crystal and her family is a perfect example of the positive impact Catholic Charities of Jackson, Lenawee and Hillsdale has had on our community. This past summer, Crystal (32) came to their office to be seen for grief issues. Her younger brother, Jack, (28) had come back to Michigan in March from the warmer southern climates in order to die at home. He had been diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Crystal is a single mother of five, who had recently lost her job. Jack stayed with his mother, but Crystal was instrumental in being his primary caretaker, as their mom had to work outside the home in order to support all of them. This included feeding, dressing, washing, changing and transporting him to the doctor at University of Michigan Hospital. He was hospitalized there for a couple of weeks in the beginning as they began to understand what they were facing and what would be required of them to fully care for Jack. In addition to the daily care of Jack and of her children, Crystal and her mother were forced to watch as Jack declined further and further on a daily basis. There was simply not time for them to do anything other than the daily requirements of taking care of him, let alone dealing with the fact that he would pass away and there was nothing they could do about it.
Jack died in August. Both Crystal and her mother were present when he passed. Towards the end, he couldn’t even blink his eyes or wiggle a finger, let alone communicate with them. While his passing was a release from this torment for him, it left a gaping hole in Crystal’s and her mother’s lives. They became absolutely numb.
Crystal realized that she was going to need help processing all that had occurred, including Jack’s passing. When she came for counseling, she spoke pretty much in a monotone, showing very little expression. She began to work through the five stages of grieving – Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression and, finally, Acceptance by discussing them with her counselor. At the beginning, they were just words, but eventually Crystal started feeling again. It started with a session where she sat with tears rolling down her cheeks. She could not put into words yet what she was feeling, but the tears were a start. Since then, she progressed through Denial Bargaining and Anger. She is currently in the Depressive stage, and she ismaking progress. In addition, their mother Kathy, has begun therapy there too.
As with anyone experiencing a loss, the holidays are particularly difficult. Catholic Charities, with the assistance of some very generous donors, decided to take this family under their wing. They were able to arrange for their Thanksgiving dinner to be delivered to them already prepared. They just needed to warm things up when they were ready. They also adopted the entire family at Christmas, with Catholic Charity workers shopping for and wrapping gifts for the entire family. As time goes on and needs are still present, they were also able to assist them with their utility bill. These are not things CCofJLH have the money or ability to do on a regular basis, but this family had suffered so very much this past year, it was what they felt they needed to do for them. When Crystal was told what CCofJLH was going to do for them, she broke down and sobbed in their office. She calls Catholic Charities “her angels”.
If you, or someone you know has experienced trauma of any kind, or feel the need to reach out for help in dealing with life’s daily issues CCofJLH has a caring staff of office workers, therapists and administrators who are waiting for you. For an appointment or just for more information, please call 517-782-2551.