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Fundy mother of 15 dies, depression related


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Jenny Groothuis, mother of 15 (8 bio, 7 adopted from Africa) died June 29. Her oldest had just turned 18 & graduated from homeschool. The youngest is 3 I think. The youngest adopted child has severe handicaps/delays. At least one other has had medical problems/several surgeries but I think is OK now (ingested lye in Africa)

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She was apparently one of those "supermoms" who can be all things to all people, take on any amount of work with a smile on her face, etc, can handle anything...only she couldn't. Apparently it wasn't just an ordinary car accident that claimed her life - her husband Brad wrote on FB "I have become aware of some confusion regarding Jenny's passing. I have seen it reported that Jenny passed away in a car accident. This is not true. Jenny was suffering from depression, and this is what led to the circumstances of her passing. My family and I would appreciate your continued support in not focusing on how Jenny passed away, but focusing on the amazing life she lived."

I know this family is hurting right now and I don’t mean to snark on them but to bring to light the issue of depression in these fundy women who try to take on everything, raise umpteen children, and keep a smile plastered on their faces at all times. I wonder how many others are just barely hanging on.

thegazette.com/article/20140703/Obituaries/307039992

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I'm impressed that her husband is acknowledging her depression. This sounds like a suicide. I hope other fundy families will start paying attention to what they're doing.

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This is so sad. The huge danger to a religion that teaches that happiness is not something to expect in life and that mental illness isn't real/is a result of sin is that it discourages people from getting help for very real medical issues like depression. Having SO much on her plate with that many children and wanting to stay strong for them probably didn't help.

I feel terrible for her family. :(

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I'm impressed that her husband is acknowledging her depression. This sounds like a suicide. I hope other fundy families will start paying attention to what they're doing.

:cry: Definitely sounds like suicide. I'm impressed by her husband, too, I can't imagine many other husbands in the fundy world acknowledging this.

The name Groothuis sounds very familiar to me, but I can't place it. Does anyone know about the rest of this family?

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The story is sad. What is sadder still, is that there are so many fundie women who continue to take on more children and responsibilities than they can mentally and emotionally handle.

I was raised fundie. I was told that depression was just not trusting enough in Jesus. That depression was just a bad attitude. That thinking you couldn't fulfill your duties in raising as many babies as God gives you, is just laziness and worldliness.

I had 3 babies in 3.5 years. I knew I was exhausted, and I was having more episodes of post-partum depression, and/or depression and anxiety in general. Thankfully, my ex-fundie husband was open to assessing my/our situation and together we made the decision to wait on having more children, and to make some changes in our lifestyle and responsibilities, so that I could manage being a mom without feeling crazy and depressed. And it's worked.

But if my husband and I decided to go down the fundie route and keep popping out babies, I honestly wonder how I would have survived -- or if I would have. I can't fathom having another 3 kids running around in the same amount of time that it took me to recover from my depression and anxiety.

The fact is, very few of the quiverfull moms are super-moms! It's not that they are cut-out to have 10 kids or more, it's that some of them can hang on longer than others. But break-downs will happen. Severe mental issues will happen. Suicides will happen. If only they could acknowledge their limits before they got to this place.

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I'm glad you were able to get out of it TrueRebel1

Unfortunately many people aren't able to, or if they try they don't have support from loved ones. Maybe some want to escape but feel living in it with some help is better than trying to do it all alone.

:shakehead2:

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:cry: Definitely sounds like suicide. I'm impressed by her husband, too, I can't imagine many other husbands in the fundy world acknowledging this.

Not just people in the fundie world either--I'd be impressed to see anyone speak about it that way. She died from an illness that is far more dangerous than people even know. It's horrible and heartbreaking, but the family should not have to feel ashamed of it or hide the real cause. I think the Warrens have done a lot towards destigmatizing mental illness as well over the last year and could really make an impact on the conservative community, so I hope things are changing to where even fundies feel they can seek treatment and peer support without shame.

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How heartbreaking.

This is a perfect example of why I want to scream and rip out my hair when someone says, "God never gives you more than you can handle." Dammit, it's OKAY to admit when it's too much. It's OKAY to ask for help or seek out a professional. Depression isn't sent from the devil and can't just be prayed away. I don't know if this woman had any help or anything, I'm just venting from what I've seen too much of lately, though if they're fundie I'm sure this was the case.

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"Depression? That's all in your head..hahahahha..." NOT or else you are told it's a lack of faith. I'm proud of this man for speaking up! Praying for those kids.

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She had a blog:

jennysupdates.com

It looks like more than a couple of the adopted kids have medical problems. At least two have seisures and she mentioned that four children had hospital appointments in one week.

I can't imagine how hard it was to be Jenny, it sounds like she tried so hard. She must have been in terrible pain to leave all of her children.

Oh, and one of the children is named "Blessing"', I remember someone talking about a child so named recently...could that be why this family sounds familiar?

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Those poor children. Their mother is not suffering anymore, but they are left behind to pick up the pieces.

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I've seen several friends in the large family adoption circles reference this family in the last few weeks. I don't know much at all about this family. However, I did want to point out that Blessing is a common Liberian girls name. I see the youngest girl with siezures and other special needs is from Uganda. I don't know if all of the adoptees are or not.

I have a couple of friends who knew this woman personally. By all accounts she was an incredible mother.

It appears this newest adoptee from Uganda has a terminal medical condition. It appears they believed she had Autism in Uganda when they adopted her, but she has a form of infantile seizures and a malformation of blood vessels in her brain that will continue to deteriorate her and ultimately be terminal. The family did a Make a Wish trip this year, and it appears she stopped blogging right after the diagnosis came.

We knew our son's terminal diagnosis when we adopted him. It was still excruciating to face sometimes. I would hate to speculate, but I do wonder if this devestating news first of this year proved to be more than this mom could handle and she didn't know how to reach out for help.

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My mistake, it was first of last year she stopped blogging when they got the terminal prognosis for Esther it appears from the blog.

15 kids, lots of medical needs children, a husband working on his MBA, homeschooling all of those kids, living to standards....yeah, it creates isolation and a risk for depression.

For many years, I failed to take care of myself, failed to seek out medical care I needed, all because I felt guilty taking away from my family. She sounds so much like what I was before we left that world and we all deliberately entered normal society because I WAS drowning in that life.

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There are so many people here who let her down. First off, who allowed this woman to keep adopting when clearly she was OVERWHELMED?! The adoption agency shoulders some of the blame for burdening down this woman with more than she could do. Why did they keep letting her adopt?

That said, even her church heaped extra responsibilities on her. Aaron Telecky is the Pastor at Maranatha Bible Church and had poor Jenny as a home group leader. He takes some responsibility for adding to her burden. Not only that, part of the church's mission statement reads: To SERVE JOYFULLY in a ministry that strengthens the church family. Yes, Aaron Telecky made sure that SERVE JOYFULLY was capitalized.

And her husband. Did he ensure that she was seeing a psychiatrist and that she was on medication? What did he do to help out, to ease her burdens? Love her like Christ loved the church.

From the article, you can tell money was tight. "We don’t plan elaborate meals and we don’t have a lot of side dishes. We eat a lot of beans, brown rice, fruit and veggies. Meat is like a condiment for us. We keep it simple and healthy and that works perfectly for our family.†I am sure the stress of 15 children, little money, having to JOYFULLY SERVE at church (how the hell Aaron Telecky can even sleep at night is beyond me, but then again, most things fundamental Christians do I don't see how they can sleep at night), and homeschooling the brood could easily cause despair. I seriously wonder how much her husband did to help out.

This reminds me a lot of Andrea Yates and the burdens placed on her. When will people realize this type of nonsense is harming to women?

My heart just aches for Jenny! May she have the peace she never had here on earth. Those poor children. My heart breaks for them. I am sure they have been told this was God's will, blah, blah, blah. Hopefully they are getting some counseling that is secular and will help them deal with their grief.

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Her obituary said that she was preceded in death by her daughter... just wondering if that was part of the reason for her depression. It could have been insomnia related too. I know when i'm overwhelmed i just can't sleep. Depression plus insomnia plus driving = not safe. She looks like she had it all together in the family photos... Such a sad tragedy.

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This is one of the saddest things I've read lately. My heart aches for those kids. It seems that Jenny had had treatment for and was on meds for depression (she admits to the latter and alludes to the former in her blog). I don't know what role her husband and church played in her being treated or not but obviously something went very wrong here. I guess there is some solace in that she didn't hurt her kids. Still; a real tragedy.

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Her obituary said that she was preceded in death by her daughter... just wondering if that was part of the reason for her depression. It could have been insomnia related too. I know when i'm overwhelmed i just can't sleep. Depression plus insomnia plus driving = not safe. She looks like she had it all together in the family photos... Such a sad tragedy.

The daughter died over 10 years ago, right after she was adopted.

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The daughter died over 10 years ago, right after she was adopted.

Ok, thanks. I couldn't find the information. So sad. This reminds me of Mary Kennedy. Not fundie, but just so good at keeping up the perfect cover while major struggles are going on. I wish the church could be more of a safe place for wounded people.

thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/05/16/new-questions-arise-about-mary-richardson-kennedy-s-suicide.html

amazon.com/dp/0830816666/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

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