29
JUN
2017

Life After Loss

Posted By : maryellenmc@gmail.comComments : 0

I have become certified as an NVC trainer about a year ago, completing a journey that started in 2003. I came close to completion about 5 or 6 years ago and then stalled for various reasons and then was re inspired to complete the task. During this time I also worked as a counsellor, often using NVC as the lens through which I focused my work. I counselled individuals, couples and groups. I did a lot of self-esteem and inner dialogue work as well as working with communication, conflict resolution, and coaching people toward an amicable divorce. I also did some work with my husband putting together a course on the Psychology of Chronic Pain. However the largest focus of my counselling was on grief, loss and bereavement.

In March of this year my husband died. I struggle to describe all the feelings surrounding this event. Although being able to discern and get clarity about what I was feeling and needing gave me some sense of direction and being a bereavement counsellor was certainly helpful because I knew on some cognitive level that it was normal and even common to experience the things that I was going through, it really didn’t make it any easier. I felt like my world was turned upside down and I really didn’t and still don’t know who I am anymore. I would sometimes remember the things I would tell clients as they would come up against challenges but it sounded like a faint voice from a far off place and not particularly helpful to me. The challenges of life after major loss are many. To honour and allow yourself to feel the pain sounds simple but it is truly not. There is also the fact that this death was completely unexpected and so I felt blindsided and traumatized by it. Shock and trauma often accompany but are very different than grief.

My first reaction was to submerge and go underground with the few people who seemed to be in a similar place with their grief as me. These people included mostly his daughters and our daughter together. I was with my daughter in another province when we heard the news so we stayed together for about two months. We belong to a blended family and so his daughters arrived almost immediately and we hung out and supported each other for that same two months.

It has now been about three months since my husband passed away and I am beginning to re orient and find which way is up. The many challenges continue however. The questions about who I am now and what I will do are not resolved.

Dealing with the things that people say, almost always from a place of good intention are still difficult to hear and respond to. Things like “You seem to be handling this so well”. My inner dialogue is usually “You have no idea how I am handling it because what parameters are you using to justify that statement? Is it because I put on a brave face and march around doing stuff? Or is it because I am honouring my grief by crying 6 hours a day for 2 months? “ But of course I don’t say that. I wish people would just say something like “I’m here. Don’t forget I’m here.” “You are not alone, I can’t make things any different but I can be with you here”. And don’t get me wrong I have many friends and colleagues who DO seem to know exactly how to support me. My bereavement colleagues and NVC friends have been a life-line for me. I have such gratitude for them and my amazing daughters and family. I know that I will emerge from this painful place with deeper insight and more strength but what I need now is the patience to wait for that to happen in its own good time and patience with myself to navigate the good days and the bad days and my own imperfection at supporting myself and the people in my life that I care so much about.

maryellenmc@gmail.com
About the Author
Mary Ellen McNaughton, has a Masters in Counselling Psychology from UBC and has been incorporating the frame of NVC into her counselling practice since her introduction to it in 1999. Working with individuals, couples and families Mary Ellen focuses on the communication we have in our own head or ‘self-talk’, often with the help of a step by step debriefing or self-empathy flow sheet as well as shifting communication patterns between people. She also does bereavement counselling on contract with the Central Okanagan Hospice Association and collaborative coaching with the Okanagan Collaborative Family Law Association. As an adjunct professor at UBCO she teaches nonviolent communication in the context of Relational Practice to nursing students. She is on the board of BCNCC and does workshops and trainings in NVC by request in the Okanagan.