The Shrink and Me

Welcome back to today’s post, The Shrink and Me but firstly, if you’re new to my blog, you’ll probably want to start here, and spoiler alert, if you haven’t guessed already, he passes away and you can read about his last day in this post.

Moving along….

So, 6 months after Nick had died, I was still in the whirl of getting used to the idea of being alone and being a single, independent mum, whilst dealing with solicitors, probate and the bank sorting stuff, when I got a call from an old work friend. He was asking if i’d be interested in coming back a couple of days a week to assist on a short term project.

Well, I was more than happy at home and my days were filled with all the running around that’s necessary when someone dies (honestly, I was not prepared for that!!) while still sorting through my own thoughts and taking care of our then 1 year old, but I felt a little obligated to my workplace, as they’d been so amazing during Nick’s illness and time thereafter, so I said yes.

It was decided, I would return to work two days a week, flexible days and hours, depending on mine and Claudia’s needs.

Sure, it was a little soon maybe, but I was coping so well anyway, that I didn’t think anything of it really. Besides I had more than enough babysitters so that was never a deterrent to returning.

I’ve written previously about my work place and how supportive they were, even inviting me to an awards night after Nick’s death, that you can read about here, which didn’t exactly go to plan as i’d imagined it would. So, I guess getting the call wasn’t completely strange!

And so I started, just a few weeks before what was my first birthday as a widow, but I digress, back to the story…

Obviously everyone was happy to see me back, lots of sympathetic glances, quick flag down chats in corridors and strangely enough, the bathroom wasn’t out of bounds either. But, it was all well meaning and ‘good to see you back’ type conversations.

My general manager, had remained in contact throughout Nick’s illness and phoned often for updates. He was so supportive when Nick actually passed away, catching up with me a couple of times for coffee chats to see how I was going, so he was happy to see me back at work again, apparently, it was his suggestion that they call me.

But, his one gripe that came up every time I saw him, was that he wanted me to have a session with a counsellor.  Just to check in and make sure I was functioning right. He couldn’t quite believe that I was OK with what had happened, suggesting that maybe I was putting up a front.

I don’t know how I could possibly be putting up a fake side for so long, but as i’ve said previously, I just wasn’t handling my loss, the way people expected, so therefore, I must be on the verge of cracking! Right!

We were fortunate enough at our workplace to be offered free confidential counselling sessions if needed, which I guess is why he keep pushing and so at his insistence, I finally booked an appointment.

I remember in the lead up to my appointment, telling friends and family that I had one and they all seemed so happy for me, like it was just what I needed.

They’d set me right, they’d get all my emotions out!

And I do want to begin this by saying, I totally believe in getting help and having someone to talk things out with, I also think we’ve come a long way in removing the stigma attached to seeing a cousellor, therapist etc.

I just felt at the time, I was doing such a swell job of getting through it alone, that I didn’t feel the need to see anyone about it.

The day of the appointment arrived and I nervously made my way there. I was seated in the waiting room and was asked to fill in my personal information form. As I begun writing all my details down, I remember the receptionist telling me the counsellor was running a little late with a previous client, being all flustered, I remember telling her (like she cared!) that it was fine, I wasn’t an emergency or anything, I was just sent by my work.

Not sounding crazy at all, i’m sure.

She told me to just relax and that I should be pleased, I had the head counsellor seeing me today.

I couldn’t relax after knowing that, did it mean they thought I was really that screwed up, that I needed someone with the most experience to talk me off the ledge, that I didn’t even know I was on!

And after what felt like a wait of 1000 years, I was finally called in, and I mustered up my brightest, most sane smile and walked in.

Disappointingly, there was no plush couch to lie on, just two chairs in front of each other.

I took one, and the counsellor sat directly in front of me on the other. He was a middle aged guy, friendly looking with a calm soothing voice you’d expect of someone in his field. I felt at ease instantly.

He’d read my notes, so obviously knew why I was there, but began with, ‘Tell me a bit about you and your story Michela.’

And I started, I told him everything. About Nick, his illness, our relationship, Claudia, his passing, the aftermath.

In the same way i’ve written my posts, I spoke honestly and openly about it all.

I laughed, I cried, I reminisced.

He passed me tissues, but barely said a word. He wrote a few things down on his notepad.

I went on about being positive, knowing I still had a bright future ahead of me, not letting his death define me and our daughter, how I came to accept his passing and not letting it depress or get the better of me.

How we had more love in 10 years than some people can have in 40, and how I will always be thankful for that.

How amazing Nick had been throughout his illness, that it had given me a new perspective on life and no reason to complain about anything petty again.

That I was lucky to have had Nick in my life, that he had changed me for the better and i’d always be grateful for the life we shared together.

Telling him how I didn’t want sympathy for my daughter for having lost her Father, because she will always know how loved she is by him. How I planned on keeping his memory alive etc etc.

I felt like I talk for almost the full hour, it was all from the heart, honest and raw. The words were just spilling out of me.

When I was done, most likely because i’d ran out of breath, the counsellor began talking.

I’ve never forgot his words, he said, ‘Michela, you’re a remarkable woman. You have handled this better than most people handle life.’  

I blushed, it was the highest compliment i’d heard following Nick’s death. He went on, telling me I had a gift, a way of seeing things differently to most. That my way of thinking positively about something so tragic had indeed been what pulled me through the worst of it.

He said I had to do something with it.

Write a book, he suggested, or start a young widow support group, or better still, look into becoming a grief counsellor.

At the time, let me tell you, I was far from ready to write a book, thinking no one would really want to read anything i’d have to write and the thought of having 10 young widows in a room, who didn’t necessarily share my thoughts on their partners death would be difficult and more study, I wasn’t so sure about, it had been years since I left uni.

But still, I was touched that he thought I had the ability to do those things. It was the nicest compliment i’d heard in a long while.

Obviously there was no follow up appointment needed.

I left his office walking on air, he had validated that I was OK, that I had handled Nick’s passing well and wasn’t in need of fixing. That I wasn’t a cold, callous widow, that I was normal and coping in the way I knew how.

Even I had begun to think something was wrong with me and the way I was dealing, after hearing it from others, but after my session, it all clicked, I was doing just fine, in fact, better than expected!

I was exceeding expectations on how to cope with loss and that didn’t make me a bad person and it just took a stranger, to help me see it and stop making excuses for my behaviour.

I made the calls to my doubters, I was fine, the therapist had said so. I wasn’t in danger of cracking or having a breakdown. I was doing a great job, and just because it didn’t fit the ‘norm’ of being a widow, it didn’t make it the wrong way.

When I returned to work the next week, my general manager, pulled me aside and discreetly asked me how it went. I told him, but he didn’t quite believe me. I suggested he call and confirm himself, gave him the name of the head counsellor i’d seen, he couldn’t shake the thought that there was no follow up appointment.

How could I lose my husband and be ok?

Well, I was OK and I knew I’d only go from strength to strength from there on, and I did.

The Shrink And Me
Recent pic of Claudia and me

Thank you so much, as always, for reading, sharing and commenting, I love hearing from you!

And thank you for the love on Facebook, appreciate it so much!

Til next week, Michela x

Also, quick shout out to Poppy from Light of Eva for sending Claudia a beautiful candle from her range, to light in honour of her Dad. Ours is in the beautiful coconut lime punch scent, but check her out on Facebook, she has a beautiful range of hand poured, soy candles with a 35 hour burn time, I highly recommend them!!! Thank you Poppy, we love our candle and burn it daily!

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19 thoughts on “The Shrink and Me

  1. Hello Michella,
    I’m not sure if you still get these but I just wanted to thank you for sharing your story. I’m a 29yo widow. I recently list my husband to cancer. He was only sick for 3 months. Passed away only 10 weeks after he as diagnosed. We have a three year old son. I too have chosen to ‘ve positive, it’s better than the alternative right. It’s been three weeks since he passed. And my sense of humor is still intact. And I’ve gotten some pretty rude comments about that. People either expect you to be a complete mess. Totally useless. Or treat you like you have the plague or something. Anyway, staying positive. One foot in front of the other. I found your story very inspirational and comforting. Thank you for sharing uour journey. It gives me great hope.

  2. Once again Michela,, I just love to hear your amazing blogs, your love if Nick just shines through, but your amazing openness and honesty and how you have dealt with your feelings has made you so strong and certainly a help for many other widows going through a similar situation. Yes I know everyone grieves differently which is why we should never compare one persons grief to another. But I agree with your ‘shrink’ as you call him, you should at some point when ready write all your feelings and experiences down in a book, it would make a great read. The happy, the sad the anger, then the grieving and eventually trying to get your life into some sort of normality again for you and your daughter. Then how you have moved on met someone else, but still even in that relationship acknowledging that he isn’t a replacement for Nick that his love will never die or change, but this relationship will have new memories ,, and how you will always let Claudia know who her dad is and how much he loved her. But one thing that helped me grieve for my mum when she passed away was like you did, sitting with people and talking about, laughing at the things we did as a family, crying when we knew she was dying, looking at photos, sharing silly memories,, I remember sitting with my dad and sister and crying our eyes out but laughing our heads off at the same time. Bottling up grief is not good, or pretending they never existed is not real. They lived, loved, laughed and cried, so should we when they have gone it makes it all real. So Michela continue with your blogs, give my love to your gorgeous daughter and continue to be a wonderful, honest inspiration to many ,, Love Chris xxxx

    1. Hi Chris,
      So lovely to hear from you again, thank you so much for your beautiful message and support of my blog. Who knows, maybe one day, I will sit down and write some kind of autobiography, even though I have written these blog entries, im so not sure where to start, but if its meant to be, it will flow, just like this blog has. Even just reading your synopsis of my life, makes me want to read it!
      I also totally agree with you, bottling up grief is not healthy and I think it will eventually turn up somewhere along the way, it’s never forgotten forever. Our loved ones are real people, who deserve to be spoken of long after their gone. Much love, xxxxx

  3. A beautiful post, as always. It underlines that grief is so personal. It is impossible to compare to anyone else, or to judge how someone else is coping. It is positive that your manager cares enough about you to encourage you to go to counselling, but it must have been fabulous to hear a validation to hear how well you have been coping with this heartbreaking situation. Love and hugs as always xxx

    1. Thank you Leigh, you know only too well, how grief can effect us all so differently. So appreciate you taking the time to read along and comment, i’m sure you’re own blog keeps you busy enough! I love seeing all your beautiful pics of Hugo! Love and hugs right back at you xxxx

  4. Yes please write a book, you have a gift and you are an inspiration to us all. We love you so much xxxxxx

  5. That is an amazing photo of you and claudia she is absolutely beautiful and she is very lucky to have both u and nick as parents! You are remarkable and u have handled things so well I am so proud of u! And I’m so glad that u have written this blog I look forward to reading everytime and being on this journey with u! Xxx

  6. Hi Michela, as always a great read. You are an amazing woman and you were an amazing young girl at primary school. I still have the book you made for me after I went on a school excursion with you and all the class with Anthony back in grade 4. Your look on life is so inspiring, I hope your writings are helping other young widows. Michela you are an extraordinary woman please keep up this fantastic blog of your love, loss, thoughts, and your wisdom xx

    1. Hi Lynn, thank you, as always for your beautiful message! And wow, can’t believe you still have a book I made from when I was 10, that’s amazing!! Thank you for sharing that memory with me and for reading along and being a constant supporter of my blog, I don’t think i’m so special, but I love knowing that people are reading along and being inspired by my words and positive thinking, it’s what’s got me through my hardest times. Not sure how much longer i’ll continue writing this blog, but i’m still enjoying the process so far.
      I should also say congratulations on becoming a grandmother, i’m sure that’s filled your world with even more joy, I love seeing Anthony and Nikki with their baby, reminds me how grown up we are now, we’ve come a long way since primary school!! xxxx

  7. hey gorgeous,
    another wonderful post, you really are sooo inspiring. your strength really is phenomenal and having that confirmed from a “professional” really must have put you on cloud nine, (but you already knew U ROCKED, and can deal with ANYTHING, hence why fate put you and nick together in the first place… he so needed you by his side, hell we all need by our side.)
    and you are following your councilors advice, your writing and getting your story out and im sure, inspiring not only widows but everyone in general all over the world. its just sad that we have to listen to someone else’s grief to appreciate life. we all should have the attitude that you and nick both had. you are both
    keep up your amazing work chicki, not only at this blog, but as being a wonderful mother to your gorgeous little blessing, wonderful new wife and an amazing friend 🙂
    im so glad to have crossed paths with you 🙂 (an hope its a long path :-p )
    god bless you and your beautiful family xoxox

    1. Hey Sel, thank you again for your beautiful message. You are too kind!
      I like how you say we need to hear someone else grief to appreciate our own lives and I think that’s something this blog has done to so many people reading, to acknowledge that crap things happen, but it doesn’t have to spell the end, or let it break you, you don’t need to be defined by the changes in your life. Life moves forward, we evolve and change with it and our circumstances.
      Lots of love right back to you and your beautiful family! xxxxx

  8. Maybe what your old boss didn’t get is that the death of a life partner DOES change you but it doesn’t have to break you. Many of us have inner strengths we never knew we had until they are tested. We learn to cope and incorporate those changes into our new personalities. It’s really sweet, though, that he cared enough to push to see the shrink because that validation the shrink gave you was another important step you needed, but probably didn’t know that you did at the time.

    1. Hi Jean, yes, you’re absolutely right and in hindsight I do thank him for the push I needed to go and see someone, bc it was yet another step in my healing, that validated I was ok and not some freak. And I like what you say the death of a partner doesn’t break us, but it does change us, hopefully for the better, like in our cases. xx

  9. Have to say Michela, I too Love what that councellor had to say to you, there could not have been any better words spoken, I think he said what many people were thinking but he just managed to put it perfectly into words xoxo

    1. Thanks Tiff, I think hearing it from a stranger somehow had such a bigger impact on me, that someone who barely knew me, thought so highly of how I was handling the situation. But, yes, im sure others thought the same! xx

  10. Everytime I read your posts, I am inspired by your strength and positive attitude. It reminds me to live life to the fullest. Love reading, so continue writing.. And you MUST write a book!!!!

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