The following information has been changed to protect my client’s identity.
Jane is in her 40’s and happily married mother of twin’s aged 4. Her husband is in remittance stage two MS. Jane came to me for counselling because of the recent death of her elderly mother. She had previously had counselling 10 years ago when her first husband committed suicide. We worked together for 8 sessions.
My initial meeting with Jane was focused on finding out the nature of her bereavement and for me to describe the kind of counselling that I have on offer. My initial session gives me an idea of what the client may need and also allow a client to get an idea of how sessions may be needed and expectations and goals, so that we have a firm base for the counselling relationship to be built on.
Jane was unsure as to whether counselling would help her, she felt her previous experience of counselling had failed her; she felt that her counselor had been very young and that some of the material that they had covered had been beyond that counselor’s scope. However Jane was open for change and hopefully we could work well together and that my previous experience in bereavement counselling would be very beneficial. We agreed to review our progress at the end of three sessions, to ensure that Jane was happy with the progress.
During the session’s we talked about the nature of her relationship with her Mother and it became apparent very quickly that Jane felt guilty. She had spent her mother’s final moments trying to resuscitate her. Now Jane wished that she had spent those precious moments telling her how much she loved her. Jane regretted that she had not spent more time with her mother during her last few months and could have been more “patient” with her. The final picture of her mother’s last distressing moments kept playing through her mind.
Grief effects everyone in different ways and Jane could not cope with her feelings of guilt and remorse, the conflicting thoughts, the reality of trying to save her mother and the guilt of not expressing her love and spending enough quality time. She would look for excuse’s not to go home to her village and look after her elderly parents, she was an only child born to the couple later in life.
Jane was seeking change or to come to some kind of acceptance. There was also unresolved emotions around the death of her first husband whom she married very young and had a rocky relationship with – suffering from mental illness he tragically committed suicide after the relationship came to an end. This situation among others had resulted in Jane labeling herself as “unlucky” she felt that this might be a self full filling prophecy, not least that now she was happily married her husband was now suffering from MS.
Jane portrayed herself as a very capable businesswoman and mother, however there seemed to be a vulnerable inner child in side her crying out to be heard. I fed this feeling back, she was taken aback by my observation and said that this was how she felt, and we worked on giving this child a voice.
Since her mother’s death Jane was left questioning her whole being “what is it all about?” She had been a philosophy student and enjoyed thoroughly understanding things, later in life she had become an accountant, so now seemed to be relying more on logic, she seemed to be searching now for a more spiritual understanding, there appeared to be this internal battle going on.
Jane was also becoming concerned because she felt that she was “becoming obsessed by the health of her twin girls, she would sit up until the early hours of the morning alone with a bottle of wine and worry. These thoughts were hard to put down and were now affecting her sleep.
I noticed that during our sessions Jane would always underestimate the gravity of the situation she was describing, often saying “others had it worse” I fed this back to Jane, she gave herself permission for the first time to experience and accept how difficult her life had been; understanding that it was her avoidance tactics that had been masking her true feelings.
Jane described this feeling as if a “light had been switched on”.
There was a visible change in Jane she became lighter, unburdened and said that this was the best that she had felt in years. We ended our work after 8 sessions.
How we worked together:
We looked how Jane felt about her close relationships and how “guilt “ played a huge role, impacting terribly on how she felt about herself. We worked on some childhood issues, how being the only children to older parents impacts on you in many ways. Accepting the fact that she could never have saved her Mother and that her Mother always new how much she loved her. Most of our work was centered on the process of loss and the five stages of loss, understanding that each loss needs to be recognised and worked through.
Seeing the changes in Jane through counselling her and the many clients that I work with makes my job so incredibly rewarding.