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.
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.
People told me that Kade would be proud of me. And I believe it. And that thought is so tender and so sad.
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?).
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.
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.
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.
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.
f – family
Over my two-and-a half years of graduate school, my family took a backseat. This included Kade. We were usually assigned more than we could possibly read, so I had a feeling of being behind even if projects and papers were completed.
To illustrate this, after I graduated on a Saturday night Brian said, “Let’s go out to dinner.” I started to head upstairs…to study. For two-and-a-half years, often I didn’t go out to eat when my family did, or to the park or the museum, because I needed to catch up on school. I had to retrain my brain that there was nothing with a deadline I needed to stay back and do.
We went as a family to Kade’s stone this past weekend. It had been a long time since I’d been there. He even has two new…neighbors…that I had not yet seen. One, a new stone right next to his, and two, a sweet little cherub angel that someone nestled up to him—I don’t know who.
By the way, remembering the statuettes placed at other people’s stones, on the way up Asher said, “I want to see the cherubs up there.” A random declaration, and then you can imagine our surprise.
e – evidence-based
ev·i·dence-based / adjective: denoting an approach to medicine, education, and other disciplines that emphasizes the practical application of the findings of the best available current research.
I appreciated the evidenced-based grief researchers, authors, and professionals whose work I referenced in school. While completing assignments, I was learning about my grief, myself, my boy, and our relationship.
d – dreams
Several of the professors at Regis happened to come from a depth psychology/Jungian background. This is a focus on the “unconscious” and includes dreamwork.
At the conclusion of my Grief Counseling class, the benchmark paper was to “include sleep dreams you may have had that companioned you during a grieving time in your life.” I was glad I had recorded my Kade dreams in a dream journal I keep by my bed.
For this project I got to revisit a dream, research the writings of Jung and other depth psychologists, and get my professor’s feedback. That exercise was the essence of the joining of my grief and my counseling education.