My first visit to see a grief counselor was about 3 months after Ian died.
I had preconceived ideas about what someone, trained or not, could possibly say. For real I had already decided that nothing said could help, hurry or heal me. I know now that I waited so long to seek help because I just needed to sit in the mud, in all of it’s depth, pain and beauty. With the space and time of the last three months it became clear the hole Ian’s absence made in my heart became too big. The pain had become too physical and I was no longer capable of…well anything.
So off I went and dragged my incapable, sobbing ass to my newly googled grief counselor. The mission was to unload the immense abyss of my sadness, anger, despair and pure rage that Ian’s suicide assigned to me. The goal was to be given a tool, a rope or an anchor. Fucking anything to be able to breathe myself into the next minute.
I spent that first hour with her, reliving the 48 hours leading up to Ian’s death, but also the 14 incredible years that makes his suicide a complete and utter oxymoron to the amazing beautiful life he lived with Kat, Bella and I. I describe to her sympathetic gaze that my head just spins and spins, out of control, while my body stays frozen. My memories of Ian, of his life and death swing back and forth on a time pendulum. As our first hour came to a close I tried frantically to express the civil war going on between my head and heart. I needed a tool, a task or a trick to help me make it through another day without falling apart. Time is up.
The googled grief counselor was the one that saved me that day but i didn’t go back to her. I am grateful for the emotional release my time with her provided me. She gave me the space to tell Ian’s story to someone new that didn’t know him or I. I was given a gift with her regardless of the outcome. The gift of time, to fall into a million little pieces. She never tried to fix me or put me back together. How could she? How can anyone?
I learned two things that day. That I need to fall apart and sit in the mud as often as possible and however awkward and uncomfortable it is for those around me. And that I need to to share Ian with the world. I was blessed to have Ian as my son for 14 years. Through his death I am learning more about him and his beautiful spirit and kind heart. I want to spend more time with how he lived instead of how he died.
I did eventually find another grief counselor and coach armed with tools and tricks and tasks for me. The story of our meeting and my connection with Rapson will be shared another day. It’s new and we are still unpacking who I will become, what I have yet to do, and I can keep saving me from …. me.
While writing this blog post I got a text message from Bella, our newly minted 18 year old. She texted Kat and I that she was feeling motivated to do something really cool with her life, and what should she do? These are the kinds of conversations that you have with your kids that make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. She’s recognizing that she’s at a pivotal point in her young life where she wants to move mountains and save herself all at the same time. My only advice was “We have to want something bigger for our new lives. We have to sit in the mud and feel all that is beautiful and painful, and when we are done crying, we have to put our pants on and change the world”
I believe she will. We will save ourselves and we will rise together.