Death and Dying

401202_10150531542092860_18325017_nToday, I learned of the passing of client. This is number four in 2 years, 3 this year! Yes, it’s hard mentally and emotionally. When I entered the field of helping people, that’s all I wanted to do was help. My mind didn’t go past helping people. I don’t know if I didn’t allow mind to process the evolution of a person or I chose not to…the verdict is still out on that one. I forgot to remember that a person will for sure do one thing, and that is die. I am always so caught up in living that I forget the indisputable. When I came to the realization that clients will die. I immediately assumed that I would be a lot further along in my career. I was only a few months out of graduate school when my first client passed away. I was devastated. I didn’t want to work, I sat in the dark for a while wondering…”Is this really for me?” “Can I handle this?” and “Why am I feeling like this?” I had to remember this is someone I met with several times a week and had become accustomed to seeing, and now I would no longer see them. This person wasn’t family, but it hurt! See, this person didn’t have family so at some point did our relationship change? When this person went into the hospital I did a community visit, as they had requested, not knowing it would be my last. Personally, I wanted to stay and be by this individual’s side, but the clinician had to leave. This moment gave a different meaning to “holding hope.” What I didn’t know is that holding hope can feel like a punch in the gut. That’s the part that I wasn’t taught and don’t feel like I could have been taught. I had to experience another dynamic of holding hope; one without a happy ending. It’s hard not to become “numb” in this profession. That would be an easy way to survive, but in this field, one can’t simply survive you must thrive. Once you stop feeling can you still be compassionate? Can you still HELP? Not even the best school can prepare you for the loss of a client. At the end of the day you’re left with a “different kind of grief”. One that has the ability to be debilitating and gives you the strength to continue to help people. At the point you realize how much this person has contributed to your growth as a clinician and as a person. You then understand that they have contributed to you being able to help someone else. Learn what you endure, in this profession you must have emotional boundaries. What can you mentally and emotionally tolerate without becoming numb to the needs of others? Know your boundaries and respect them. At the end of the day, loss is loss. It may hurt differently with every encounter, but it still hurts.

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