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  2. Afterlife Forums is an online, interactive community designed to give seekers direct access to prominent researchers, to afterlife literature, and to one another in order to foster both spiritual growth and public interest in life after death.

what do we expect?

Discussion in 'General Afterlife Discussions' started by mac, Dec 14, 2017.

  1. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    A problem with discussion forums such as these is that individuals may be expecting very different things from other members.

    Forums are not necessarily about providing support unless they're dedicated to that purpose, as for example with personal issues such as medical and health problems. Yet support from some members about some issues, can reasonably be expected. But that's only one aspect of a forum-based website .

    For comparison I'm a member of a community of health issue sufferers. Our discussions are predominantly about acoustic neuromas which we all have or have had. We support new and established members alike, we offer suggestions about treatment options, hospital visits, post-surgery care, rehabilitation etc We rarely discuss or debate general points that affect everyone in this life because these tumors don't affect everyone or even a large number. Very, very few get them and we're a small and easily overlooked community. Hence our organisation and its website and Facebook page provide often desperately-needed support, often to newly diagnosed sufferers. It's the association's main raison d'etre.

    What we do on my other website is unlike what we do here on ALF. Here we can discuss and debate the spiritual aspects of life, death and what follows simply because they apply to us all - without exception.

    But what I see here at times are members looking for the kind of support my other website provides for me, support that I in turn try to provide for our other members. Maybe there should be a section here with a similar purpose? We did once have limited counselling for members arriving who were potentially suicidal but that's no task for the untrained. Bereavement and grief counselling are other areas where it's obvious some members need help but ALF can not provide trained counsellors and untrained members are not a satisfactory alternative.

    The main forum boards here on ALF provide specific areas of spiritual interest and allow members to express their concerns, their thoughts, their ideas, their hopes. But those same boards may be unable to provide the specialised emotional support some members need.

    It's when such a need gets caught up in a general discussion/debate that there is the greatest mismatch of expectations and disappointment as a consequence.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
  2. Ed A.

    Ed A. Member

    I can see how a forum dedicated to the afterlife would attract at least some people in distress, seeking help and support (e.g., for bereavement). So you're right, there is going to be a mismatch between some people's wishes/hopes and what the forum actually offers. I don't have any suggestions about how to handle that, except maybe sticky-ing a thread with a statement about this issue and some links to support forums.
    Kate0508 likes this.
  3. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    Your suggestion is similar to what we used to have to try to help potentially suicidal individuals. Better than nothing, probably, but far from good.

    It's a dilemma. Folk are attracted to the website, encouraged to look into the notion of suvival, but the most vulnerable of them, the ones bereaved and grieving, may not find what they thought they would.

    Another occasional issue not mentioned so far is that emotionally/psychologically disturbed individuals may also find their ways here, sometimes distressed and confused and thinking their issues have a significant spiritual component.

    We website members can only do the little we can, of course, but we can't provide the professional help and support that some will need.
  4. Ed A.

    Ed A. Member

    True. These are probably issues faced by other spiritual/religious forums, too. I imagine successfully navigating it depends a lot on the maturity and cohesiveness of the community.

    Somewhat different subject: do you have other staff members here, or is it just you and Roberta?
  5. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    Over quite a few years I've been a member of a fair few websites of a spiritual/afterlife nature. On those websites we didn't have anything like the situation we have here. But even a cohesive, experienced community may not be the right way to address often-complex personal issues. And a public forum is a questionable area to discuss deeply personal 'stuff'.

    Yes just we two - Roberta is website owner and administrator and I help with admin.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
  6. Ed A.

    Ed A. Member

    Any idea why it is different here?

    You don't seem to like my ideas. What are yours?
  7. Widdershins3

    Widdershins3 Active Member

    Could there be a "sticky" post at the top of the page of each subforum that lists the national suicide prevention contact number, perhaps? And there may be another one for general problems with anxiety or, especially, grief that could be made easily available to visitors here. I can see why Roberta wouldn't want to be placed in the position of handling a person in crisis, but she's very compassionate and empathic when troubled people post here. Perhaps you or another staff member could kindly direct future posters of that sort to seek actual intervention as well as posting here and make it clear that it's not something you've trained for and you want them to get the best, fastest help possible. It might even save a life...
  8. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    The difference may be because folk arrive here after hearing Roberta on the radio or after reading her books or blog. They may come with expectations different from those of members who have searched the web before arriving.

    You don't seem to like my ideas. What are yours?[/QUOTE]

    I don't have any good ideas. I wish I did but I may have judged the situation correctly anyway. I could easily be wrong and it might be that newcomers are finding what they want/need. I do hope so.
  9. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    Yes - that's similar to what we used to have.


    Roberta is little short of brilliant when responding to folk in crisis. :) I take off my hat to her ability and empathy. But Roberta works full-time as an attorney, is an author, has involvement with organisations such as AREI and is administrator for her website. Even if she wanted to take on a support role she simply wouldn't have time without the risk of compromising her other roles.

    I totally understand where you're coming from but I'm not qualified to assess members' needs or to address them if it's already obvious what they are. Others might be but in my view it would be up to Roberta to decide if a member would be allowed to act in such a role officially on behalf of ALF.
  10. Widdershins3

    Widdershins3 Active Member

    That's what I meant--to be clear that you're not trained to counsel them.
  11. Ed A.

    Ed A. Member

    I don't think there's necessarily a solution for this, or that anything "should" be done. It would be nice to put up a sticky with some links -- "This isn't a support forum, but here's where you can find help," but that's about as far as I'd go. Beyond that, I'd just leave it up to the individual members to respond however they see fit.
    lovehim and Widdershins3 like this.
  12. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    We're not professionally competent even to direct someone somewhere we think they should go. We are simply laypersons and could very well get things wrong and cause offence.
    lovehim likes this.
  13. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    That's kinda how it used to be.
    Widdershins3 and lovehim like this.
  14. Ed A.

    Ed A. Member

    You mean you used to have a sticky, but you took it down?

    I doubt the sticky would help all that much. Most new members won't read it; they'll just jump in. It's more just so you can say, well, I did what I could do to make it clear.

    Otoh, you seem to be saying above that you don't feel qualified to provide links to places where people might find support. So, we could just forget the sticky and leave things as they are.

    Which is fine. Sometimes the best thing we can do is leave things alone and let them work themselves out.
  15. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    no - ALF was trashed a couple of seasons back and Roberta managed to salvage much, but not all, of it. Stuff was lost irretrievably and the overall layout changed as the web developers undertook the reconstruction. The present-day ALF isn't an exact copy of the old ALF.

    I think that's a fair summation of the potential situation.

    We weren't actually discussing a 'sticky' as a proposal anyway. As for my ability to provide links that's not an issue - I've done it before. But I meant that I'm not qualified to assess if a member is suffering with - for example - anxiety, depression, psychological disorders or the grief of bereavement. Members would need to search the links for themselves unless - again for example - they were to say they're feeling suicidal. In that situation anyone could tell them to get directly in touch with one of the agencies.

    That's right, even when we want to help.
  16. Ed A.

    Ed A. Member

    Both widdershins and I suggested it. It isn't a great idea, but it was the only concrete suggestion I heard.

    Oh, yeah, you wouldn't want to put yourself in that situation, at least not formally. Informally, I would feel pretty comfortable saying, "You sound like you might be depressed. You might want to see if you can find a therapist to talk with" or something along those lines. Issues of bereavement/grief would be pretty easy to spot, too. Beyond that, it gets tricky.

    I think what you said about this forum being different because most people come through Roberta's books is probably true. I love most of what Roberta has to say, but her books are kind of fringey, and along with a lot of free-thinkers and spiritually minded people, you're probably likely to get more than your share of oddballs (no judgement; I like oddballs).
  17. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    Yes I agree it was a suggestion but there was no formal proposal under discussion.

    I agree with your first point and it's something I've done fairly often. Grief and bereavement are obvious when they're talked about and the latter can lead to the former. What's most tricky is when emotional aspects that present in a spiritual context suggest emotional/psychological issues that probably need priority in resolving - and I know members here on ALF who I consider to be in that situation.

    As an oddball myself I can't disagree with the way you see 'em! I haven't read any of Roberta's books but I'm sure some members arrive after reading them. How free-thinking or spiritually-minded others are I can't assess and don't try.
  18. Ed A.

    Ed A. Member

    I see. Yeah, that's a complicated issue. Things will vary a lot, case by case. It would be difficult to tell the person directly that you think they have psychological issues that need to be addressed -- that will usually come across as insulting.

    That surprises me, since you're the only staff on her forum. As I'm sure you've heard, "The Fun of Dying" is worth a read.
  19. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    exactly - You've hit the nail squarely on the head.

    I'm sure Roberta's books are very helpful and, as you say, worth a read. My not having read them is simply down to my reading very few books nowadays, especially those of a spiritual nature. The last such book I read was Flying High in Spirit communicated by discarnate-member Mikey Morgan through his medium mother Carol, also a member here.

    There was nothing new in it for me because I'd followed their progress almost from the time they appeared on ALF which was shortly before I became a member. I'd 'spoken' to Mikey through his mom, we'd exchanged ideas, disagreed on odd issues, agreed on a whole lot more but I wanted firstly to see the result of his channeling and secondly to read their whole story complete. Previously it had been a bit here, some more there and odd and ends everywhere so although I had heard more-or-less the whole thing I'd heard it in bits spread around across many, many threads.

    I don't recommend books very often but for something a little different from the norm, a story you won't often hear told and all from two of our once-regular contributors, it would take some beating. Worth a look for seekers and finders alike.
  20. genewardsmith

    genewardsmith Active Member

    Do you recall what odd issues you didn't agree on? Are these old Mikey posts still available?

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