blogging a to z april challenge – m

Theme: how my graduate school experience impacted my grief and my relationship with Kade.

m – meaning making

Meaning making. This is a big part of grief.

A partner and I presented a research project in our Crisis, Trauma, and Loss class entitled Perinatal and Child Loss. We described Dr. Robert Neimeyer’s emphasis on the concept of meaning making in grief. In his Theory of Constructivist Psychotherapy, he explained how people construct meaning after loss. The role of the therapist is to “listen between the lines” and discern threads that lead to a meaningful future.

In Dr. Joanne Cacciatore’s Selah Model of Grief, the state of meaning is one of the elements in the final of the three steps.

It is a tricky thing, trying to convey meaning making after Kade’s death. I have started and deleted this paragraph several times. Kade did not die so I could find some sort of greater meaning. And, after his death I can find meaning in life. I can find meaning everywhere. Sometimes I feel as if I simply must find meaning.

The fit of grad school and becoming a counselor is a part of my meaning making. I look to my right and see another: Asher. The social justice postcard-writing gatherings I organize are another. And every time I speak my truth. Or do something in Kade’s adventurous spirit, like go whitewater rafting in big water seasons, or climb a fourteener. Meaning is everywhere.

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On top of Grays Peak

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Kade’s friends, Dylan and Jason, took me on my first fourteener.

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blogging a to z april challenge – l

l – lens

Because nearly everything in my life is experienced through the lens of grief, my schooling was no different.

I wonder what the program would have been like had I not been bereaved? I chose grief-related topics for many projects. What else might I have gravitated to?

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blogging a to z april challenge – j

Theme: how my graduate school experience impacted my grief and my relationship with Kade.

j – jubilant

I decided on the word, jubilant, because it conjured the time of graduation, December 2018.

Graduation.

I felt so drained by my year-long internship an hour away from home and the end-of-program capstone paper that I don’t know if I even appeared outwardly jubilant. It barely felt real. But I was wearily, inwardly, jubilant at the prospect of getting my life back.

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People told me that Kade would be proud of me. And I believe it. And that thought is so tender and so sad.

blogging a to z april challenge – i

i – i

I…brought Kade with me to class and didn’t know that would be the case.
I…shouldn’t be surprised because I bring him everywhere.
I…was surprised sometimes at what was activating (who knew anything covered in a dry Clinical Assessments class would bring up wistful memories?).

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blogging a to z april challenge – h

h – healing

When I was discussing the possibility of grad school with my counselor, she informed me it would be like a very expensive counseling session.

She wasn’t lying.

I had also heard that this kind of program is transformative; that I would not end the same person I was when I started.

Also not wrong.

The experience and all its layers have been healing. With every class, theory, self-reflection, project, and exposure to others I at least learned something about myself, if not also my grief.

Carl Jung quote

blogging a to z april challenge – g

g – grief therapy class

My Grief Therapy class at Regis was an impacting experience. I had heard that the only instructor who taught it, Dr. Annamarie Fidel-Rice, was soulful, depth-oriented, and remarkable. I jumped on taking it as soon as I could because I knew it wasn’t offered every semester.

Wow.

Dr. Fidel-Rice and the class did not disappoint. It was by far the most expressive, feeling, experiential, and immersive class I took in the program—I guess like grief is. You can read more about the class in this previous post: heworeflannel.com/2017/05/03/one-year-down/.

In learning about providing grief therapy, we were allowed to process our own losses. We created loss timelines, engaged in writing prompts and coloring prompts, chose and reflected on images that spoke to us and our grief, allowing the unconscious to become conscious, and learned and participated in healing ritual.

burning bowl

Though not a picture from ours, we partook in a burning bowl ceremony choosing something no longer serving us. There was power in taking part in rituals in community.