Over the years I’ve recommended therapy to any number of clients. But that I face days when getting out of bed can feel like an achievement, I’ve decided against it.
I could tell you that my resistance is philosophical. Surely feeling devastated after the death of a child is normal? In which case why use a remedial intervention, like therapy, for something that is healthy? We do, undoubtedly, live in a world where “happy” has become the new success and where negative emotions are deemed a pathology. But I don’t buy into sadness as an illness.
Philosophy isn’t the real reason though. I’ve submitted, to pharmaceutical help to make things easier.
My problem is, that after practising as an executive coach for a decade, I know just enough about the therapy models and thinking commonly used in grief counselling to know that I don’t want it. I can hear the collective voices of my therapist colleagues remind me that I’m not a trained therapist so I don’t know enough to make this call.
But I know me and I know that I don’t really want to sit opposite a dispassionate professional and be “diagnosed” using their process. No model can begin to describe the scope and intensity of my emotions or how quickly I cycle between them. A model doesn’t account for the unfairness of people sharing how they dreamt of Josh when I ache to be able to recall his face.
Even if there were a model that could explain me, what good would it do? We could talk and talk. A therapist could offer me insights and new ways to think about things but what would have changed?
I would still have moments when I’m fine. I’d still be a pretty good actress and be able to interact (to some extent) without embarrassing people with my tears.
But Josh will still be dead.
At night when the lights go out and everyone is sleeping I will still feel my soul crack open. I will still lie in bed begging for one more second with my son. I will still wake up, heart pounding, in the small hours – desperate for some way of knowing that he wasn’t scared in those final moments.
And Josh will still be dead.
So what good could talking do? To save me from sadness? From panic? From despair?
Josh will still be dead. Therapy can’t change it.