The first two weeks after our loss, we were walking around in shock. I look back and think that this was God’s way of protecting us in the beginning while we were being forced to make so many difficult decisions. Planning a service, finding an officiant, writing an obituary, and even deciding on pall flowers felt like we were walking in slow motion through a dream, or a nightmare to be more accurate.
A couple of weeks later, after everyone had returned to their routines, the reality began to set in. The loss and finality of it all became apparent in a very painful way. I have always been a proactive person. I didn’t want to have too much time to have all of my emotions banging around inside my head without a referee. That’s when I decided that grief counseling would be a tool that would be helpful in guiding me through this difficult process.
I phoned a minister to ask for his advice about the type of grief counseling that he thought would be the most helpful for my husband and me. A Grief Counseling Group? Grief counseling led by a minister? Or perhaps a private therapist? He recommended that a private therapist would be the most helpful at the beginning stage. He said that sometimes when the wound is fresh a group can be overwhelming. Everyone is eager to share their experience and they are a little farther down the road than the newly bereaved. Also, everyone has different coping styles and an individual therapist could help us navigate techniques that would be the most helpful for our style of coping. He suggested a couple of names. Luckily, I was able to make an appointment with one of those therapists.
My husband and I went to the first appointment together. We shared our story. She felt that we each had individual styles so she recommended that we each make separate appointments to best match our style of coping.
At this point, I have had about 10 sessions. I will say that this has been the best thing that I could have done for myself. I keep a journal of things that I find difficult during the week. I go over them at the beginning of the session and ask for her help with coping techniques to manage those particular issues. It has been immensely helpful.
I have plenty of friends who have offered to listen anytime that I need to talk. But I don’t want to make my friends dread seeing my name pop up on caller ID. Some of the things that I want to talk about aren’t lunch conversation either. It helps me to have a dedicated one hour slot that we talk and then it is over. It helps me to stay focused on the task.
I still have sadness and I am not Over It because I think that is a normal part of grief and loss. I think that grief and missing my son will always be there. But I do think that knowing that I have someone to talk to without filter feels hopeful and proactive at a time when I have the least control about my circumstance.
I wanted to share this in the hopes that it might help someone. Sometimes it is easy to feel that getting help from a mental health care professional is a sign of personal weakness or that our faith is weak. I want to encourage you that it is not. We are not innately born with the knowledge of how to navigate difficult life situations. In the same way that we wouldn’t dream of filling a cavity on ourselves but instead would call a dentist, we should feel that finding a professional to help us with times of emotional distress is a sign of strength not a sign of weakness.
Peace and Love.
She writes about life, death, grief, and recovery.