Friday, July 17, 2009


I went to see my new therapist this week. As we were talking, she said, "It doesn't seem like you have many questions about this." I began weeping. Oh, but I do. I do have a question.

"How am I supposed to live my life without one of my children?" And I just wept.

And she got a pained sort of smile as I cried. To me, I read it as a sort of victory. Something she could answer. And she looked in her notebook, and began reading off this list of things to do. "Make Lucy apart of our everyday. Write about her," she said. Write about her.

Ha, ha, ha, ha ha...ha, ha, ha...ha...yeah.

"I write a blog."
"You write about what happened. It is better if you write in long hand. Just to her. Write about her. Write to her. Write in her voice. Write poetry."

So, what she was telling me is I haven't been writing in the correct way? Typing. Blogging. To an audience. For myself. To process my own feelings, rather than Lucy's feelings. So, of course, the implication is that I'm not writing enough evidently. Because you know, what she is saying is a couple of hours a day, sometimes more, just isn't enough to make sense of your child dying. And you know, I can't do those things. I already am conscious of how much I write in a day, and how much it detracts from my mothering. I can't write like I am Lucy. I can't pretend she forgives me, like my therapist suggests, because I don't think she is mad at me, and also because she is dead. I also don't want to write long hand. My handwriting is barely legible. I am not wired like that.

"Have a space that is Lucy's space. Buy a toy that reminds me of Lucy and share it with Beatrice. Rituals. Talking about her. Pictures. A symbol, like butterflies, so when you see it, you know she is communicating with you. You need to develop a spiritual relationship with your daughter, because you don't get a physical one."

I felt myself close down. I felt myself close off. I just wanted to scream. BULLSHIT. BULLSHIT. This is not what I want. I don't want to know how to do all these fucking little pat things to remember my baby. I know how to do those things, because I do them everyday. I remember every day what happened. I feel it everyday. I talk to my daughter about Lucy, her sister, everyday, and find Lucy's acorn babies, and light her altar candle, and write poetry about how sad I am, and...what I was asking her of course, was the unanswerable. How do I live this cruel life? I want to know how to motivate myself, not soothe myself. I want to know how to find joy again. I want to know how I pick up my feet and move forward. I wanted to know how to not hurt anymore. I want her to say "Cut your heart out." Or "Drink celery juice every morning." OR SOMETHING, besides a bunch of rituals that I do to try to make my dead daughter more present in our lives.

Why did I think that anyone had the answer to that question? I do all of those things. I have done everything I can. I have read the effing books too. I've been in therapy for six months. I felt like Kisa Gotami asking the Buddha to give her dead baby a medicine to bring him back to life. Rationally, I know there is no medicine, and yet I persist in looking for it.

Therapy is bullshit. That is how I felt when I left. I keep going thinking these therapists will tell me something new, and the truth is there is nothing new. There is no secret, magic counsel that frees you from the pain of losing your baby. Sure, I get validated, normalized, in my grief, and that was helpful for a while. But I just have to keep living. Whether I do it well, or not, I'm still going to get to the other end of this raw grief. Doing it well will make that a more pleasant journey. But right now, I am faking it. Eventually, it will just be easier. Sometimes, I just don't think I need therapy, I need a lobotomy.

The truth is what I wanted her to say is "I can't answer that question, honey, no one can, but I can listen to how hard it is. Truth is, you just have to keep living and pushing through."

So, now, realizing that I don't think I need therapy, do I cancel my next appointment, go in there, and argue with her about the validity of therapy for an hour, call her? Anyone ever do this before? I've seen her twice, is that enough to know we aren't compatible?


  1. I think it's enough Angie. I knew within a few minutes with my counsellor that she was right for me. I have to say one of the reasons I think she's right is that she's never tried to give me *that* list. The here's how to do grief list.

    The most useful thing she has offered is that the main problem with grief is the "ought to" and the "should do" that we burden ourselves with - or sometimes are burdened with by others.

  2. This is why I quit my first counsellor. I think I saw her three or four times, but just never made any more appointments, as I did not like her style. My new counsellor really just listens. And she doesn't offer pat solutions as you say, as there aren't any. She is a great listener, and she does wonders for me. I like her, that helps.
    I wish I had the answers Angie. I feel like I have done everything I can, too. Written thousands upon thousands of words. Even had some published. Made memories. Planted gardens. Bought things to remind me. Displayed photos. Talked about her. Shared her. Got a tattoo. But none of it is fucking enough. I just want her back.
    If I find the answers, I'll be sure to pass them on my lovely friend.

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  4. I've never been to a therapy session, so I've got no clue on how it should go.. but it doesn't sound like she's a good fit for you. Maybe you really just don't need to go to anyone.. It seems like you can easily talk about Lucy to anyone who will listen, and it also seems like you've got plenty of folks willing to do that, so maybe that's just what you need? I talk about Dresden every single day.. some people seem a little akward about it (their problem, not mine!), but most are open to hearing whatever little comments I have to say.. also doing the blog and talking to you fellow momma's is theraputic for me too.

  5. maybe you aren't compatible. you want to go in there and feel like she is helping you through this journey. not making you more agitated.

    i love my therapist, i always walk out of there feeling like i have just worked out some new piece of this puzzle.

    like sally said, we are doing it all, all the things we feel in our hearts that we need in order to remember our lost little babies. there is no should, its really all about what we feel. and if a therapist is making you feel like what you are doing is not enough, then something isn't right.

    a therapist is there to listen and give you insight on something deeper in your words then you can maybe figure out for yourself. its amazing what we keep discovering every session.

    and like we've all said in so many of our blog posts, losing a baby is only one little piece of this tragedy. there are hundreds of other things we've lost in this, so many other emotions having to do with so much more then just losing our child.

    i think a therapist is there to help us put this puzzle back together somehow. though it will always be missing a piece, no matter what we do or say or what rituals we perform.

    lots of love angie. xo

  6. Sounds like she's not the one. As you know there is no answer to that question and for her to try and answer it shows me her inadequacies. I just found a new therapist and she's great; it made me realize how bad my last one was in comparison. I think there are just some therapists who aren't that great at their jobs and then there are those that shine.

    And Angie, you are living and surviving and that is remarkable. We can do this together, my friend. xoxo

  7. Therapy recently hasn't been feeling so helpful to me even tho I have a wonderful connection with my therapist. I think my personality is such that I'd have one more session and tackle those big questions, and then make my decision, but if you know already she's not the one, than so be it.

  8. Oh crap! What a load of crap alright.

    My opinion: She's not the one, for various reasons. And because she isn't cut the tie. No more bullshit. Life is too short, to valuable to be wasted on incompetence and other people's agenda. I get the impression, she is doing things by the book but certainly not with experience (good for her!) and you are not to be here training subject. Move on.

    I am still threading the same waters, that place where you fake it, you think you can, should whatever you think is the right thing to do at this point in time. And you scream inside all the time.

    you said> But I just have to keep living. Whether I do it well, or not, I'm still going to get to the other end of this raw grief. Doing it well will make that a more pleasant journey. But right now, I am faking it. Eventually, it will just be easier.<

    Yep i call it/use the one-day-at-a-time-mantra-

    >Sometimes, I just don't think I need therapy, I need a lobotomy.< is that spare part up for donation? You could sell it and make a fortune. Angie, I send you love. Thanks for sharing and making me laugh instead of cry.

    much love
    xx ines

    PS I posted, doubled, had a cursing over google blogging comments and am re-submitting my own post...

  9. I didn't click with my therapist for several visits and even told my referring doctor that I didn't think the therapist understood babyloss; but I've been with her for a year and a half now and she is wonderful!

    However, I'm not impressed by the suggestions your new therapist gave you, it doesn't sound like she has experience with a situation like yours. It's hard, I say if you didn't hate her and think there is even a small chance that she could help you why not try another visit?

    I remember during the first year when I had so many doctors saying I could call them if I needed anything, but none of them had the answers, they all validated that my situation is very sad.

    It is just so sad when you are doing all the professionals recommend and living is still agony.

    Much love to you Angie

  10. If I were in your shoes, I'd cancel. It seems not only like she's not the one, but that she wasn't necessarily even helpful in her suggestions.

    I like my therapist, though I initially scheduled with her because she was recommended by my perinatologist and as a psychiatrist, could prescribe me something to sleep. Sometimes I think she's less qualified to deal specifically with grief, but I really don't have the energy to shop around right now. But if seeing her made me feel bad or frustrated, as oppposed to good or neutral, I think I would cut ties.

    Sending love. xo

  11. absolutely, move on. I have a friend who once said, 'the only therapist I will ever see is going to be smarter than me.' He's still looking, so am I. Every time I try, though, I feel like I'm having techniques displayed to me, instead of a listening, caring, professional.
    So break up with the relationship that's not helping. Find someone new.

  12. If it's not working, get out of it. This is supposed to help not hinder and like Ines said, life is too short.

    I tried therapy with two counsellors and it isn't for me.. yet, ever, who knows.

    You're surviving Angie, be proud of just that.


  13. (((hugs)))
    I don't think she is the right one for you, Angie. She has no place telling you exactly how you ought to be doing it. xo

  14. I'm not a professional but to me this sounds like two things: one, she's not horribly comfortable with the parameters and undulating shape of grief (telling you exactly how to write is a bit patronizing to me) regardless of what she's been through -- she may understand HER parameters, but not get that to each their own and that there are other paths for success; and two, she doesn't think YOU'RE very comfortable/understanding with your grief/mourning.

    And maybe two sessions is a bit too early for her to have thought she knew you well enough to make that determination, but jeezus, reading two of your blogposts made things pretty clear to me.

    If you're uncomfortable, this won't work, and I think she's gone there. (Honestly, the journal thing is really pissing me off. If you're just not a person who likes talking to dead people out loud or by pen, or assuming their identity, then you're not. It's nothing wrong with you, and suggesting this is gonna slow you down somehow is really presumptuous.) Should you feel like trying another therapist on for size, I'd be very upfront in the first session about what it is you DON'T LIKE (read: this experience), and be honest about what it is you're looking for. The therapist on the other end should be able to tell you if they can hang with you or not.

    I'm really very sorry this didn't work. Nothing like feeling dismantled by someone who should know better and feeling like you've gotta unload from the beginning all over again. Sucks.

  15. Along with everyone else, find someone new. It is another case of people trying to fix your problems, that can't happen with a f-ing 5 step list of how to get over the death of your daughter.

    I'm a fan of therapy, so I am biased. You need someone a bit more intellectual for you. You don't need to hear the book on grief she read in grad school repeated to you.

  16. Funny. I hardly ever read the other comments first because I don't want to filter my own thoughts or have them influenced by something I read. But, I was about to write "It's enough" when I glanced and saw that was the very first sentence by Firefly, the very first commenter. So, yes. IT'S ENOUGH.

    I have a Master's in Mental Counseling (uh, yeah. look at how mentally healthy I am!). The very first things any counselor SHOULD learn is 1. Do not impose your own value system or belief system onto your client (I am Catholic. I got my MS at BYU where 99.999% population is LDS, aka Mormon. So this first rule became ingrained rather quickly). 2. DO NOT solve your client's problems. You are there to listen, guide, learn about the person and allow her to learn about herself. You are not there to TEACH.
    Thus, I think your counselor fails. Fucking fails.

    Now, I am not your counselor. So, I can TEACH you. :) No. No, I can't. But I can suggest, right? If you are unwilling or unable right now to muster the energy to 'interview' another counselor, try a support group. Perhaps you already do. I've found mostly solace in my Compassionate Friends group.

    Now, I think I'll go onto my own blog and write so you can come on over and TEACH me a thing or two. :)

    Peace, my friend.

  17. Thank you all. Just to be fair to her, she lost her son at 28 weeks, so she related things that worked for her. One thing I do know is that we all grieve differently.

    Truth is, before I began really reading through these, I just decided it was over. Whether it was her, or therapy in general, my heart isn't in it. So, as I told Ines, I took the beautiful path of the coward, and left a message, telling her I didn't think we were a good match for therapy. Because, despite what it might sound like, I think she might be a good match for someone else who is not me.

    I think the Buddhist therapist is a great therapist for me, and trying to find someone else was stupid. I just have to suck it up and pay the money, travel, whatever else to see him.

  18. Absolutely! Dump her ass. How patronising. Blogging is just as therapeautic as long handing it, more so I say as at least you are a part of a community of people who totally understand. Get rid of her.

  19. I think that you have made the right choice Angie.

    A friend of mine told me that she started doing something for herself that didn't include anyone else at all, not her husband or her children. In fact they had to do something for her so that she was able to do this thing.

    This thing was something that she always wanted to do but never thought she could. She said its like therapy and when she does it, it makes her whole day better and that makes her a better Mum and Wife. She still has to deal with the same very difficult issues in her life, but she does it better.

    I took this on board, I call it happiness therapy. My happiness therapy was to join a choir and sing. Hers was to run on the beach early in the morning.

    Its got nothing to do with grief but it makes it easier to be me.

  20. I am glad you ended it with her. No sense in wasting money if you are not feeling right about it. I got to the point where I just didn't think there was anything else my therpist could say or do. I am still sad about my baby dying, she can still try to sympatize, but she can't fix it. So what's the point?

  21. Weighing in late on this, and after you've already made a decision but here's my truth, yo:

    Full disclosure for those of you who don't know me- I am a therapist myself. And I have slowly come to realize that the kinds of pain that a therapist can fix are far outnumbered by the kinds that s/he can't. Because most pain doesn't go away because you journal or practice forgiveness imagery or spend time doing something for yourself, though all of those things might help with different parts of the journey. And therapists hate this- I hate this. Because I am in the business I am in because I want to help people take away their pain.

    The thing is, fixing pain on those rare occasions when you can is much easier than the other thing you have to do when someone comes to you for therapy, which is walking with the person as they walk with their pain. Accompanying is way harder than fixing, because it means coming face to face with the fact that life is often random and cruel and sucker punches us and there is no "why?" and there is no "just do this and you'll feel better."

    I am not defending this new therapist. I was shaking my head the whole time I was reading this, and can tell you why in great detail some time if you're interested. I say it more because I think that the thing your Buddhist therapist has over this lady in spades is the default understanding that we need to sit with pain if we ever want a shot at changing it. Maybe you need less meditation and more talking with him for now, but I simply don't think you can do grief therapy unless you know how to sit.

    Which, by the way, is why I don't do it- I suck at sitting with this.

    You're a wise woman, Angie, to know what you need. Namaste.

  22. Gah. I was planning to ask you this morning about how you found a babylost mama for a counselor so I could try to find someone to go to as well. So much for that idea. What's the point of paying her to tell you what worked for her? But damn I want to find that celery juice!

  23. Just wanted to echo some of the other comments here. Do what feels right for you. Not what someone else thinks you should do.

    We tried therapy and went to a total of 2 sessions. I got nothing from it - she basically said a lot of the same things that I had already read in books or heard from other people. It was information that I had already received and processed (for free).

    Unfortunately, I don't think there is an answer. You just have to live through it and live with it. It sucks and I am sorry for all of us...

  24. I think its not going to work either Angie. That doesn't mean it won't work with some one else.

    What you are sharing with this woman is so incredibly personal and if you don't feel right, if you have to question whether you should go back or not, well I think you have your answer.

    I have never been to counseling. I have always believed that no one I could pay would make me feel any better.

    I wish you clarity in this beautiful Angie, my love to you always friend x

  25. Angie, I've been reading through your posts and came across the one about your "effing" therapist. It made me so angry to read of her response to you! Your gut instinct is 100% right ("I felt myself close down"). Run for your life! I haven't even met the woman and I knew she was wrong. Therapy can be very helpful, but not with the wrong person. Do not feel guilty about stopping. Remember this: therapists are people too--some are screwed up and need more therapy than they give out, others can be wonderful tools for healing. It is an extremely important relationship, one based on mutual trust and understanding. She is an idiot for suggesting that your writing is somehow wrong and that you not handling your grief "correctly". I have had therapy in the past and when I thought I had found the answer to my problem and it was time to move on, I did so at my choosing. I think your intuition already gave you the answer.

  26. I had a therapist and the - ah shit, what's that person at the hospital that does the religiousy stuff, the ... not cleric, but anyway - both of those two totally denounce the whole blogging thing. I don't think they get it. I suggested to the person at the hospital that they send new dbms to the blog list, because it has helped me so much. It took me at least two months to find deadbabyblogland, and I suffered by myself that whole time, even tho I had a therapist.

    I don't think a journal would help me one bit. I have journaled in the past, but it is the connection with others here that you don't get from a diary, or maybe even a support group.

    They wouldn't send people to the blogs because they thought that it would make them worse. I see the strength of all the women here. I see their fear, their pain, but also the support. To me it is totally empowering.

    Anyway, I think that therapist should have listened to you for a few more sessions before dishing out assvice, she didn't even seem to know what you were already doing. And nothing is more frustrating to hear than people telling you to do what you already know to do.

    I think your art is totally great and a wonderful way to work through your grief.


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