Anticipatory Grief

While one may say this is the perfect time to solidify a meditation practice, I am not finding this true for me. I will use the Calm app or be still for 3o seconds when the Calm commercial comes on but I am not drawn to regular sit down meditation right now. I will find myself staring out the window, mesmerized by nature’s stirrings. While walking outside today I was gently focusing on the buds floating on the breeze’s carpet, making soft patterns in the air. Simply observing the mist dance from the essential oil infuser is also relaxing and meditative in its own way.

These simple observations awaken me to the natural flow of life, undisturbed ( or less disturbed) by human manipulation. Have you noticed how alive Spring has been this year? The birds seem more active, the trees more vibrant and the sky more dynamic. We are part of this cosmic dance, but usually are out of step with the rest of Gaia’s inhabitants.

Over the past few weeks I have thought about my former clients and what life has been like for them since the pandemic. To lose their therapist on top of everything else seems so unfair to me. But fairness is never a certainty. We can strive to be fair in our deeds and actions, but 3D life is not fair at all and may have been designed this way. I pray for my clients and hope they are getting all the support that they need.

I went back into therapy last year for a number of reasons, the primary one being that I was feeling sad at the end of 2019. It seemed prudent to get some support so I would not slide into a depression. While I took this step with ambivalence, I proceeded to find someone ( ” Angie ” ) local and affordable. I did not overthink this process and found someone rather quickly. She is an artist, lives closeby, and works in her home. She is older, very approachable and quite kind. Her home is an oasis, decorated the way I would if I took the time and care and had the resources. I felt safe there in this house with this person to be me, a therapist seeking therapy. I have been in therapy for a very long time and was not sure how it would go. Ann’s style is very direct and expressive. She shares about her own life with deliberate intention. She chooses to show who she is and says it is becoming more mainstream to have less of a wall between client and clinician. Angie freely gives out articles and resources and is patient. She seemed to be a good choice for me. Imperfect, but certainly capable of holding space for my healing.

Last summer I went to her home for a session and no one was there. I called her after a few minutes went by and she told me she was in the hospital and would be there a few weeks. I was taken aback by this. Angie later divulged she developed leukemia and that treatment is complicated and lengthy. She offered me referrals if I wanted to see someone else. I decided to wait it out and she updated me on her progress. Eventually, we resumed our sessions and her health improved. I became very concerned about her health as she looked very tired and frail. It was a challenge for me to keep myself in the receiving role. Which is why I waited a while between visits. I told myself she would look healthier over time and this is my issue, not hers. When the pandemic happened, I knew I had to stay away and that I do not like zoom sessions. Ironic right, since I was providing telehealth to my clients. A couple of weeks ago after the layoff, I reached out because I needed to vent and get additional support. Imagine my horror when Angie emails me to say she is no longer practicing because she is dying. I wrote back to get clarity and Angie said the leukemia returned. I recall her telling me that if this happened she would not seek more treatment. I brushed her remark aside because the transplant was successful. Well, it was until it wasn’t.

I don’t know how to handle this. I have never gotten an email like this before and I feel abandoned. I do not want to find someone else. I want Angie to get better, yet I respect her choices. I just want the situation to be different. I will not know when she is dead and she could be already gone. I question the point of our brief time working together, that almost did not happen. I was not certain I wanted to open myself up again to a stranger. Was this loss more problematic than what brought me to her in the first place? I won’t know until much later when hindsight kicks in. It was suggested that I perform a ritual to help me mourn. Loss often has an aspect interruption within it. This relationship seems unfinished. And yet it is finished. Angie is true to herself and I appreciate that about her, along with her kindness, resilience from personal difficulties, and her honesty. I also admire how much she loved doing healing work. So many times she would share how lucky she is to be a therapist. Maybe because she chose it later in life and learned to appreciate her second career, or maybe because Angie just enjoyed helping others in this way. Her enthusiasm inspired me to try harder when I wasn’t excited about my work. The articles she gave me will remain part of my connection with her going forward.

One can say that living on Earth in a body always contains anticipatory grief to some degree. Our time here is finite and most of us do not get advance warning. It feels quite heavy to live with so many loose ends. But I will do the best that I can and writing is one form of therapy for me. Releasing my inner world this way is healing and comes naturally. I do not take this gift for granted. But there is more grieving to do.

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