blogging a – z april challenge – p

p – pain

Did you know counseling is not to fix pain? Or solve problems? Or give advice? It is to help people build their capacity to carry their pain, live with their circumstances, and learn skills to work toward solving their problems. We are to be great collaborators and not so great advice-givers.

Sometimes I want a pill to take away my pain.

I guess I’m not alone because look around at the numbing with substances (drugs, alcohol, food), devices (screens), and other things (shopping, perfectionism). Because numbing does not work and causes additional problems, I guess that leaves me with facing this intolerable pain. And developing skills for coping with it.

I’d still rather there be a grief or discomfort pill…

But since there’s not, I’ll…

See my counselor

Be a counselor

Go to a group

Lead a group activity

Read

Learn

Write

Participate in Blogging A – Z April Challenge

Plan a trip

Take a road trip with girlfriends

Go on a hike

Breeeeathe

Get out my mat and do a Yoga with Adriene

Engage in numbing behavior like Facebook

Redirect

One of my favorite movie scenes:

 

blogging a – z april challenge – o

o – owning

School helped me move toward owning my stuff. Through my grief and school education I am learning to own the freakin’ hard things. I work toward owning my grief, my reality, and my lot. I don’t LIKE it (I can own that); I wish it was different.

We counselors are trained to see what is sped past in the counseling room. The uncomfortable whiffs of topics, the ones that make a person get momentarily small in their chair, smile or laugh, perhaps hide their face behind their hand, or wince for the briefest moment. And name it. And stay there for a tolerable moment. And examine it.

And work toward owning it.

owning

 

blogging a to z april challenge – n

n – numinous

I didn’t know the word before one of my first classes: Spirituality and Counseling.

numinous – adjective
nu·mi·nous | \ ˈnü-mə-nəs
Definition of numinous
1 : SUPERNATURAL, MYSTERIOUS
2 : filled with a sense of the presence of divinity : HOLY
3 : appealing to the higher emotions or to the aesthetic sense : SPIRITUAL

Isn’t it a great word?

Much of my life has an element of the numinous now. After all, my son is “on the other side of the veil.” My Spirituality and Counseling class and entire grad school experience were no exceptions.

We got to share a 5-minute story in class on something numinous we experienced in our lives. I told about a time Kade “threw me” a couple signs—two stars in a row. Briefly, when I was feeling really down on the way to a child loss support group I saw a star illuminated in the foothills at precisely the time I needed it. Then, wondering if it was Kade, or god, or a higher power, or what, I was thrown a second one—an actual shooting star across the view of my windshield. Whelp, that cemented it for me—to me it was a sign that Kade was OK. And somehow, with me.

I loved hearing the other stories of my classmates’ numinous experiences. That class was one of my favorite memories at Regis.

I’d like to hear from you. What is a numinous experience you’ve you had?

star and girl image

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 – 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.