I use affiliate links on some of my blog posts. This means that I could make a commission if you click on a link and purchase something. Read my full disclosure here.
Therapy. Counseling. Analysis.
Talk about loaded words, right? How many people want to admit they’re going to therapy? There is still such a stigma in popular culture about people in therapy, no matter the cause. I, for one, have felt similarly for most of my life. I believe that there is a strength to self-reflection and self-improvement. You don’t necessarily need a therapist to help you reflect on making yourself a better person.
But what about trauma and immense loss? In my case, what about holding your son as he slowly goes to sleep, never to wake up? How do you even begin to wrap your brain around the despair of seeing his tiny body in a coffin? Does therapy really work for that?
A First Time for Everything
I have never wanted to even entertain the idea of going to therapy. I am cynical about how necessary it is. However, in working with The Finley Project, I was told I was expected to try everything they had to offer. (If you’d like to know more about The Finley Project, click here.) The founder, Noelle, challenged me to go to at least four therapy sessions. And as a woman of my word, that is my intention.
Wednesday I went to my first appointment. An unassuming woman opened the door of her home office. At the door a small dog greeted me and I quickly realized it was a mini red Aussie, like my Ahsoka . We took to each other immediately and she made me so much more comfortable. Coincidence? I think not. It was like having a little piece of home with me. Instead of my big rowdy pack there, I had this quiet little angel to comfort me and remind me of their calming presence.
So How Did It Go?
It was hard, opening up to a perfect stranger about one of the most important and personal things that I’ve ever gone through. But as I have put my heart into my words with my blog, so I forced myself to talk because I was going to put my whole heart into this endeavor as well. I cried much more than I intended to, a product of her thought provoking questions and asking me to re-picture the memories that brought so much pain. Did I expect to really “get” anything out of this first time? No. I expected to build a foundation for our future sessions. Instead, I left with something I so desperately needed.
When I’m hitting a particularly low point in my grief and I am upset that my precious baby isn’t with me anymore, I’ve been told by several people close to me that I carry Christian in my heart. But that honestly makes me so mad. I don’t want to carry him in my heart! I want him in my arms and pressed up against my skin. He should be with me at all moments of the day and night. He’s not in my heart. I can’t “feel” him. All I feel is emptiness.
I carried that child for 38 weeks, feeling him grow and move inside me. Then after he was born I felt a joy swell in my chest as I held his precious body in my arms each day. I never knew you could feel that way about a tiny helpless baby.
But when he died, I felt as though I lost any connection to him. I no longer felt close to him. I didn’t carry him in my heart, especially because that’s not where he was supposed to be! So for weeks I’ve struggled with that. The only time I’ve felt close to him was the visit to Winnie Palmer hospital at the end of December that you can read about here.
The Gift of Remembering
When I addressed that in therapy, she did something magical for me. She helped me focus, close my eyes, and picture holding him and carrying that feeling with me. Those are my most treasured memories, holding him close to me and feeling his warm soft skin. She gave me that back. While I wouldn’t say I carry him in my heart, I now carry that memory of him with me every day.
Holding him was a truly magical part of being a mommy. The physical memory of him laying nestled and snug in my arms is the best gift I could have received from therapy. Is it all better? No, not by a long shot. Did I feel I made progress? No, not really. But that memory has made my days brighter. And it enabled me to do something I haven’t been able to do since we buried our baby.
Yesterday I went to the cemetery. I went alone because I knew it was something I had to do for myself and by myself. It took me a moment to find the spot but when I did the tears flowed. It was such a tiny space for my tiny boy. There I sat and talked to him for about thirty minutes. I told him how much I loved him, how much I missed him and that I was sorry I hadn’t come by to tell him Merry Christmas. There were tears but I continues, telling him what I was doing and how things were going. I showed him my nails which are painted topaz blue for his birth month of November.
It may seem odd or silly, but sitting alongside his grave with the memory of holding him in my arms and talking to him was so freeing and satisfying. No, it doesn’t take the place of what I really want, to hold him and talk to his sweet little face. But even being able to brave a trip to the cemetery is progress and I do owe it to that memory that has made my son more alive to me. I call that a win.