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Home Foreclosure's Emotional Toll

By Rusty Wright, Founder of Rusty Wright Communications
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Has someone you know lost their home to foreclosure? Have you? The psychological effects can be devastating.

The mortgage crisis and related stress have seen an increase in symptoms ranging from anxiety and depression to the extreme of suicide.

USA Today relates the heart wrenching story of Oregon residents Raymond and Deanna Donaca. The couple had lived in their home for over twenty years, but a foreclosure notice apparently sapped their hope. They closed up the house, left the door from the garage into the house open, turned on their automobile engine, and let fumes fill the home, killing them and their four golden retrievers.

Don Donaca said his brother Raymond "got so deep in debt he couldn't figure out what else to do."

Financial pain is widespread. The American Psychological Association's 2007 study of Stress in America found that nearly three quarters of Americans said work and money issues were very or somewhat significant sources of stress. Half of Americans pointed to housing costs as significant stressors.

Financial Woes' Impact

Of course money woes can affect marriage, family, neighborhood, and workplace. Snapping more at your spouse or kids these days? Wish your neighbor or boss would take a permanent vacation? Less patient than normal with those rude road hogs?

Many of us value having a quiet, peaceful, secure place to call home, a familiar and safe shelter to shut out the world's worries, relax, enjoy our families or hobbies, watch American Idol, and prepare for tomorrow's challenges.

Fear of losing your home threatens all that. One South Carolina realtor told USA Today his own mortgage struggles "shatter your pride and become very humiliating. ... The situation keeps you up at night. ... It angers you. It frustrates you. ... It affects us deeply."

Some medicate their financial pain with alcohol or addictions, which can compound interpersonal problems. Gambling, overeating, or majoring on comfort food may provide temporary solace, but with consequences. The American Psychological Association has posted a webpage on "Managing Your Stress in Tough Economic Times." The APA advises "pause but don't panic," figure how to cut expenses and develop a sound financial plan, perhaps with professional guidance. View difficult times as chances to grow and change.

An Additional Coping Resource

May I suggest an additional coping resource? Harvard-trained psychiatrist James T. Fisher in his autobiography, A Few Buttons Missing, told of his desire to compile a handbook for sound mental health, something "practical" and "easy to understand." He studied long and hard seeking "some new and exciting recipe for living a sane and satisfying life." But then, he admitted, "Quite by accident I discovered that such a work had already been completed!"

The work he encountered was the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus' discourse about interpersonal relationships, tough times, faith, and more. "Here," wrote Fisher, "... rests the blueprint for successful human life with optimum mental health and contentment."

Among the life lessons there: "Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

Of course, no one should minimize the pain people feel from hard times or ignore practical corrective behaviors. Sometimes the anguish results from one's own poor, unwise, or uninformed choices. Other times the source is others' decisions. Regardless, challenging times can help us see our need for resources beyond ourselves. Adding faith to the mix can make good sense.

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively

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This was a very good read.
6/10/2008 4:42:32 PM - mrspiggy, Member of Delve into Jesus since 1/18/2008

I enjoyed this reading very much.
I have a friend that is in this very situation and the most painful part is he doesn't know Christ.
Thank you for allowing Christ to use you to help me share these words of comfort. My friend is loosing everything and I just hope that he can understand how much Jesus loves us.
3/25/2009 10:12:13 AM - anonymous

I am 31 years old. I am the mother of two beautiful children (2 and 4 years old). My husband of 8 years walked out on us three days after recieving a foreclosure notice. Our home, which is also my childhood home ,is now being foreclosed on right now. I have tried to save my home through out the grief of the divorce, was given incorrect information by the mortage company time and time again and unbeknownst to me, my home was auctioned last week. I now have 30 days to leave.

I am strong in my faith and know that this is happening for a reason, a greater good, but it does still hurt. I would appreicate your prayers in my attempts work with in God's will (i.e. work with OCC to rectify the problems with the mortage company, find alternative housing etc.). Life is just so complicated right now. I am blessed with so many angels around me and most definitly Gods loving Grace.

All of those going through the same thing right now are also in my prayers. God Bless you!
4/27/2009 6:04:48 PM - anonymous

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