Over the past year, I have seen/talked to many different kinds of people about my grief.  I saw a hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, a couple of grief counselors, a whole bunch of mediums, a handful of rabbis and a spiritual guru.  Some of these experiences have been incredibly helpful, some have left me bruised, unsatisfied or wanting more.  While a couple of these individuals have been too insensitive to actually be working with people in grief, others have been people that I have deeply connected to in my vulnerability.  Perhaps my relationships have even "crossed the line" somewhat.  Not in any dramatic, unethical way, but in a way that these relationships generally don't blur.  Also, just because the lines have blurred for me in various ways, doesn't mean that they have blurred for the other person.  I like the way the lines have blurred for the most part but I am smart enough to know that several of my experiences are not typical.  For example: I got so close to my spiritual guru that I try not to worry every day that she might think I don't love her anymore simply because I stopped going to her yoga class or visiting her for weekly advice sessions.  She told me almost as much about her own life as I told her about mine.  We became friends.  I wonder if I should invite her to lunch or if we were just friends in the context of her helping me.  Don't know for sure.

I am thinking about this today because of several recent happenings.  The first one is that our grief counselor lost her mother this week.  Ted and I were both very upset by the news, even though we know it has been building up to this for weeks.  We love her and hate to think of her in pain.  We haven't seen our grief counselor in about three weeks.  She has taken time off to be with her mom in these final days.  Selfishly, I have to admit that it has been so hard to not have her visits.  I have told her things over the past year that I have not told anyone else.  There have been weeks that I just laid in bed, totally despondent waiting for our Wednesday sessions so that I could unload and then felt 100 times better afterwards...the weight lifted briefly from my shoulders.  Of course, counseling has its limitations - it doesn't make people treat you any nicer, it doesn't make the burden of living any easier, it doesn't bring back Max.  But, I have cherished our relationship with our counselor and have come to see her as part of our little family.  Ted and I both love her.  The truth is that we have all three become friends and we have supported (as much as she has let us) her struggles during the time we have known her.  She insists that she is ready to come help us again.  And, I am missing her so much.  But, how can I talk to her about how hopeless I am when I know she is herself in early grief?  She wrote me a text right after her mom died saying that even though she knew it would be hard, it was so much harder than she ever imagined....and she has been working in hospice care for years.  She is the one who is always encouraging me that things will get better.  What if she doesn't believe that anymore?  It is one of those things that is what it is...her life will keep moving and she will continue seeing people in deep grief while she works this out.  I can only imagine the pain of the new role she finds herself in.  Still, I feel like I need her.  This has been such a hard period for me, these last days of pregnancy and I am just sinking without a lifeboat in sight.  Which is why I booked another appointment with a medium......

I found this medium the way I find all other helpers in my new life....total random connections.  I attended the afterlife conference, I met a guy there who wrote a book about losing his son (more about him and the book in the future), he told me about a therapist in Washington who helps people to connect to their deceased loved ones, I spoke to her (more about her at some point as well), and she told me about a medium she works with who is a bereaved mother and has connected well over 200 parents with their deceased children over the past year. Sign me up!  A medium who understands the pain of this loss - even if her reading was half as good as any of the others who came before her, it wouldn't matter because she would UNDERSTAND.  They never understand....and you know I long to be understood.  Even the ones who have tried their best to understand, don't.  Mediums aren't grief counselors....maybe talking to the dead and bereaved all day numbs them to loss - kind of like working in an ER.  Hey, I have worked in settings where the focus was on the Holocaust and the Genocide in Darfur and I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that most of the time, my job was my job.  I couldn't attach too deeply or I wouldn't have made it.

Our appointment yesterday was for the early evening.  I was anxiously anticipating the call all day.  My morning really bummed me out.  I spent lunchtime with my friend Amy, which helped to take my mind off the disappointment of the morning.  She has had three babies with Dr. D and reminded me that sometimes he says things and they change.  I should take everything with a grain of salt.  She helped clear the doom from my brain for the moment, which was so helpful in getting me through the day.  Anyway, the medium was running a little late, but called me about ten minutes after the official start of our appointment.  She started off strong, saying there was a little boy with her, asking if my mom's name is Susan or Suzy, talking about a J name (could be one of our grandfathers or Maxie's middle name), then it all kind of turned mushy.  She actually called herself out.  She said that just before our call, she had to change the ink in her printer and the machine went crazy and flung ink across her and the room she was in.  Then she had to hurry up to get on our call.  She was frazzled.  Usually she needs to meditate and sage the room before her calls.  Listen, what the hell do I know about mediumship?  The excuse sounded reasonable to me.  I am frazzled by much less than ink flying all over me and the room I am in.  She asked if I wanted to reschedule and I said sure, so we decided upon next week.  She told me she was so sorry as she knows I am a bereaved parent and that these readings are so important to us.  I told her I was so sorry to know that she was also a bereaved parent and that I had read through her blog and was so saddened by her family's loss.

Her son was eleven years old and died in his sleep of Long QT syndrome.  She is the one who found him in the morning two years ago.  Since most of her appointments "connect" and they talk for an hour about the clients loss and passed loved ones, she probably doesn't hear much compassion from other bereaved parents while doing her work.  My comment started a three hour phone call about what "this new life" is like. Literally - three hours.  In fact, a little more than that.  We talked about the horror of the sudden loss, the PTSD, the various treatments and therapies, the loss of old friendships, the gratefulness for new friendships, the amazing capacity of some to walk with us.  We talked about not wanting to be social, about the complexity of grief groups, the inability to move forward, the desire at times to just go be with our boys.  Of course, for three hours, I had to be careful not to mention Maxie's name, his age, his cause of death, my pregnancy, and any other details about our life because she is still giving me a reading next week (unless Baby M comes early!!!!!)  I found out that she is doing a reading next week for the author I met at the conference.  I found out that she went to the medium that did my reading at the conference and had a similar experience with him (side note: many mediums have now told me that THEY go see other mediums when they are in grief.  The reasons for this are that they often have a hard time trusting what they receive on their own - they, like me, wonder if they are just hearing what they want to hear and so vulnerable that they will believe or make up whatever they "need" to hear.  Also, they find it more validating even when it comes from someone else.  Go figure).  She explained to me that because she "talks to the dead", people think that she should be fine with her son's death.  Only, she doesn't want to be "connecting" to her son through clairvoyancy, she wants to be connecting to him over breakfast at the kitchen counter.  She told me that she has been seeking out other parents further down the path than she is and trying to find hope in their journeys.  I told her I was doing the same.  There were many times when she said, "I haven't told this to anyone else but...." I didn't really do the same, because I want her to tell me that stuff next week, but eventually I will....because I think we are now friends.  I am invested in her journey.  Even if my reading isn't great, I am sure I'll still want to keep in touch and follow her blog and continue building our friendship.

Sometimes I wonder if these new relationships aren't just as helpful as the actual therapies that I am seeking.  Perhaps the connection is more important than the "connection" in some ways.  My expectation when attending the afterlife conference was to "find" Maxie, not necessarily to find a group of other moms who had lost children.  But, the real treasure in that experience was the other moms, not necessarily the break out sessions and discussions of the afterlife.  Maybe what I am really looking for in large part is a deeper connection to other people - people who not only listen to me but share their insight from experience as well.  Perhaps this is the "real" grief work.  Before this last reading, I told Ted that I have to stop befriending mediums.  We start talking about friend stuff and then they forget to look for Maxie for me.  So much for that one. :)  - and yes, I've just used an emoticon.  I feel like the reading is better when they have no idea who I am (which should be incredibly obvious, right?)  But, I like to make friends and share life experiences and help other people through this hell.  So, I don't know.  If I were one of them (the mediums, the spiritual gurus, even our grief counselor), I would say all of these contacts and new relationships are coming into my life for a reason.  That they are, in fact,  part of my "soul's contract".  The more I journey down this path, the more I wonder also if they might be right....for whatever that is worth.

1 comment

jkbrumbaugh@gmail.com said...

I'm grateful for the connections I have met. I'm thankful for your support. Kira