I think it is important for you to know what led me to become a grief counselor.
I found myself wrestling with grief when I was young. Grief over the things “taken” from me because of illness. In my teenage years, I demanded answers and justice. I wanted to know that what I was experiencing was not divine punishment.
As a college student, I finally sat on a counselor’s secondhand couch angry and confused. I picked at her couch and would not make eye contact. She would hand me cups of water and eventually I began to share my story. I was polite, but annoyed that my mom in her wisdom guided me to a therapist. My story came out slowly, painfully, and with resistance over many weeks and month. I could feel both myself and my body clench up as I began to talk about various health diagnoses, spiritual trauma, and my inability to truly grant myself compassion.
This counselor gently told me that I could grieve. Additionally, she said “you know it’s ok that you are not okay.” I chuckled because it seemed annoyingly cliché! I felt myself opening up. I felt the tension slowly ease from behind my eyes, neck, and back. Permission granting (versus) spiritual bypassing in which emotions are glossed over in the name of ‘count it all as joy’, was foreign to me. It was a new language. It felt thick in my mouth to usher the laments that had been lodged.
She gave me permission. She granted me space in that room to say things that I never would have said in public. The sacredness of grief was a liberation I had never encountered prior. I found myself drawn to the expansiveness of the counseling room where suffering was not meant to be hidden.
It is for this reason that I became a counselor. I wanted to create a space where someone could sit across from me and say “I am not okay!” I often nudge my clients, students, and supervisees that suffering is nothing to be ashamed of. Outside of my office when I worked for a hospice agency there was a fountain that was inscribed with one of my favorite quotes by Ram Dass. He says…
“We are all walking each other home.”Ram Dass
My counselor walked me home to myself. It is my vocational mission to do the same for every client who sits on my couch.