Written by Carol Henry, LPCC
Many of us have suffered the loss of a loved one this year, so it makes sense that we’ve been talking about grief and loss lately. As professionals committed to help others cope, I do believe that our experiences with loss and grief have made us more compassionate and empathetic when clients come to us with their own losses.
This year hit me hard again when I lost my sister, Linda. She is the first of my generation of family to die – and it came too soon. Linda suffered with bipolar disorder for over 30 years – and her physical health issues only added to her burden. In the end it was not her heart, or any of those other things – it was aspiration pneumonia – and staph and mrsa that attacked her fragile system – quickly – leaving little time to say goodbye. At least all of us got to be with her for a while.
I still cannot say “we are six” in my heart; we will always be “seven.” My children – and lots of people who came to know Linda later don’t know what a vibrant, beautiful, intelligent, and funny person she was. That is part of my sadness.
As often happens, after she died, I happened to get three new clients who had recently lost loved ones. I didn’t “happen to get” actually – they came to me guided by whatever in the universe brings suffering and healing together.
Loss is one of the common denominators in our life cycle. We help each other through it with love, kindness, and patience – and we provide the same for our clients. We need to remind ourselves to be kind and patient with ourselves as well – to allow time to grieve, to cry, to talk about our loved ones with others who can share.
Will we miss them this holiday season? Yes, indeed we will. Sometimes it helps to cry – or to share a good story about them – and sometimes it helps to do something to honor them. Make a donation to a charity. Plant something living. Include a favorite dish in the meal or dessert. Light a candle. In honoring them, we honor ourselves – our pain – and we can stop and hope that when we leave this planet, someone will take a moment to miss us – honor us. That would be good.