My teenage son and I were unable to express or even feel our sadness ... we were emotionally paralysed.
After losing one of our children in a road accident some years ago, my family and I suffered an incomprehensible loss. Each of us had different ways of dealing with the grief. My wife was visibly distraught and unable to function in the usual manner for what seemed like an eternity. Our two daughters consoled each other, but my teenage son and I were unable to express or even feel our sadness. We were emotionally paralysed. I threw myself into my work, pushing myself harder and harder. I dreaded going home at night. This went on for some time before my health began hurtling downhill. I started forgetting things, little things at first and then important stuff. There was a pain in my chest that wouldn't go away, I lost my appetite and my interest in boating and fishing (something I did with my boys on weekends). To cut to the chase, I was running scared.
Luckily, a work colleague who knew my situation and could see how it was destroying my life, took the initiative of making an appointment for me to see a counsellor. I was taken aback. I wasn't sure whether to treat it as an unwelcome intrusion of privacy or a gesture of genuine concern from a mate. He gave me the details and smiled a knowing smile. I was thinking what excuse I could give when I rang to cancel, but my body was begging to differ. I experienced an incredible sense of relief, like a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
I decided to keep the appointment and was pleasantly surprised at how helpful the counsellor was. For 3 months I went once a week and bit by bit I faced my fear and the pain buried in my heart. I was amazed at how the pain dissipated when I acknowledged it. I think my fear was that if I allowed myself to feel pain, it would swallow me whole, if I allowed it to take hold, I would never be free of it.
Work has slowed to a more managable pace, and my son and I are fishing again. He doesn't want counselling but I'm hoping that through my example, he will be encouraged to find his own way through the grief thicket. NL