This week has been a difficult one. Death paid a visit.
As a grief therapist - death is not a stranger to me. It has paid a visit to several of my loved ones, children that were patients of mine when I was a lung transplant social worker and through the stories of the clients I treat every day. However, death took a client this week. This is by far a loss I never foresaw, nor experienced.
This is a unique kind of loss.
This week I had a teenager ask me why should she trust me - because essentially I am a stranger doing a job - so in other words - I don't really care. I told this teenager - that yes this is my chosen job and I do love my job. However, I am human and have feelings too. I care for all of my clients in different ways. I hope this client will let me care for them too.
Death is not a stranger to me, but this type is.
This week I lost someone I knew so much about - talked to repeatedly through some of their darkest moments, and yet had never met in person. The beauty of online therapy is that I have had the privilege of treating and caring for clients all of over Texas. Some I will never meet, but know so much of. I am honored to be a part of their journey.
The bond and connection we create with clients - in any capacity - online or in person - is unique.
As therapists we are taught to keep boundaries, leave all the feelings at the office. Do not under any circumstance cross the line of friendship. Ethics.
Inhale the good stuff. Exhale the bad stuff.
Boundaries are needed in order to continue to be able to return to the couch the next day. To keep helping. To keep healing. To keep shining light in the darkest hour.
However, therapists are humans first. Humans with their own complicated lives and emotions. Humans who care for others as their chosen career. Humans were not designed to detach from relationships. We are designed to attach, deepen and strengthen our ability to connect.
This week I sought the comfort of my husband, the advice of my friends and colleagues. I did exactly what I teach every day on the couch. It has helped. It has worked.
I have grieved this client in the way that felt right for me. I have felt the feelings that were very uncomfortable to feel and at times confusing.
I have remembered.
Grief comes in waves - I have rode all of them this week. Some with grace. Others...not so much.
So the next time you meet a therapist. Whether on the couch or in the grocery store. Remember that we do care. We care deeply. We have all the emotions that you have.
Every relationship is different. Some will not flourish for a variety of reasons, whilst others will last until their story ends. Thank you for trusting me with your story.
Thank you to my husband who said exactly what I needed to hear when I called. Thank you to all the significant others who care for their in house therapist. Without you - the couch would be empty.
Thank you to my Like a Boss (LAB) group lead Mari Lee, LMFT, CSAT-S. The LAB class of 2018 is a special one.
If you are a therapist seeking information and support to grow your practice, create another stream of income and / or so much more please see: http://www.thecounselorscoach.com/like-a-boss-facebook-coaching-group/
Thank you to my LAB mates who shared their own experiences and wisdom. Thank you.
If I can help you in your own grief please reach out for support at 281.940.5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org