As a mental health counselor, you think you’ve heard it all. The other night though a young man I am working with caught me off guard. This poor guy had been through it all in the last two months between a breakup, legal issues, losing his job, and being on homebound instruction for school. There was one event that preceded all of this.
His older brother found out in early 2017 that he was going to be having triplets. My client’s eyes lit up with excitement just at the mention of these triplets. He joked that he expected the babies to be “freaks of nature” just like his brother. He went on telling me that he was looking forward to rough housing with them and being a great uncle.
It all took a turn for the worst though in December. His older brother’s girlfriend developed a blood clot, and all three of the babies were stillborn. The entire family broke down in tears. This was the first time this young man had seen his father cry. They just lost the three newest members of the family in an instant.
That light of excitement was replaced with a slew of tears. I could see my client holding back the rush of emotion. I was at a loss for words myselflistening to this story. It took me a few moments to piece together the feelings I myself was experiencing. Here was this young man who was still in high school suffering from emotional distress from three nieces/nephews he never met or would have the chance to meet.
With grieving, we often think of losing someone or something we have an established, tangible connection with. This is not always the case though. Sometimes we need to grieve the loss of an idea or expectation. This young man possessed the expectation of being a great uncle to three little ones. This idea never came to fruition. This destroyed him.
It is a lot for anyone to comprehend let alone a high schooler that just started experiencing life. As we talked about it, his eyes grew solemn but understanding. It seemed that he felt slightly more peaceful seeing his feelings from this perspective. It helped him to see the situation for what it was. He acknowledged in session that “it sucked” but that it was his present situation. He developed a basic level of acceptance.
This young man taught me an extremely valuable lesson. Grieving is not merely a concept for the tactile, but can be applied to the abstract.
– The Caring Counselor