Julian, Gone Too Soon
Probably the worst thing a parent can have to face is the suicide of their child. Thank you to Celenia Delson for her courage in sharing how she got through this with help from EFT. Visit Celenia's website.
It’s been almost a year since my son died by suicide. As you might imagine, with the shock of this loss, everything I’d been doing came to a grinding halt. At the time, I was working at two agencies as a Marriage & Family Therapist Intern, racking up those clinical hours that would eventually lead to licensure in California as a psychotherapist. I had about 1500 hours under my belt, with another 1500 to go.
In the first few weeks after my son died, I was busy and distracted and didn’t really allow myself to fully feel the tidal wave of emotions that is the aftershock of a child’s suicide. During the following six months, I chose to take it easy. I didn’t return to work. I started writing a book. I visited friends around the country. I attended support group meetings. I took really good care of myself. Little my little, I allowed myself to feel everything I needed to feel about this horrible, horrible loss: the sadness, the anger, the pain, the guilt, the frustration with society about the stigma of mental illness and suicide, the relief (for him and, yes, even for myself), the just-plain-missing-him. I believed I was on a healthy road to recovery. I was the poster child for “The Right Way To Grieve.” (As if there’s a right way!)
And then the 2010 holiday season came. And I lost it.
Suddenly, I saw no reason to get out of bed. I stuffed and fed my grief until nothing in my wardrobe fit. I believed the only thing that made any sense for my future was to join him. The agony of being alive without him was unbearable. I couldn't imagine - I didn't want to imagine - a future without him. I had never experienced such utter and abominable despair and hopelessness, or such crippling guilt. And I wanted it to end.
When he was 15 years old, my son began to show signs of mental and emotional challenges that were beyond my experience, knowledge or skill. To become a better resource for him, I went back to school to earn my Masters in Counseling Psychology. I believed that if I knew more about what he was experiencing, why he was experiencing it, and kept abreast of the cutting edge options for treatment, then my son would be safe.
And that was true...for a while. But ultimately, all the talk therapy and medications did not prevent his ultimate and final despair.
Here I was, a supposed "expert", who had done everything possible to see that my son received the best available interventions for his severe anxiety and depression. It wasn't enough. He would be fine for a while, and then back in his dark, deep abyss of pain.
None of his caretakers ever spoke to me about approaching his treatment from an energetic perspective. Who can say whether this was the missing piece in his treatment? I'll never know, obviously. But what I've witnessed of Energy Psychology, and EFT specifically, certainly makes me wonder, and inspires me to offer this work to those who are enduring emotional and psychological agony.
It wasn't until I began applying EFT to myself (in early January 2011), and tapping out all the layers and aspects of the loss of my son, that I began to feel a genuine shift in my own willingness to continue living. (The guilt was the biggest aspect and required persistent work for several days – just days!) The shift I experienced was not a feeble inclination to show up numbly one day after the next; I actually felt myself wanting to become fully engaged in life again.
I underwent a profound “crisis of faith” with psychotherapy as a result of my son’s suicide. After all, from my perspective as a grieving mother, it hadn’t worked for him. So why waste my clients’ time, energy and money on something that had been so ineffective in my own personal life?
If you do something over and over again and spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a “cure” that doesn’t completely work or whose effects don’t last, how is that a success? For me, this is what psychotherapeutic treatment had become: one big, fat expensive failure. I didn’t even want to become a therapist any longer. What was the point?
With EFT I finally feel as though I have something truly effective to offer my clients. With the additional energetic component of their issues addressed, I was once again inspired – and felt equipped! – to make a profound difference in people’s lives. People who were struggling and suffering could finally achieve REAL relief. I love the idea of walking that path with them! It certainly beats hitting my head (and theirs) against the proverbial wall!
I have returned to practicing psychotherapy and am back on the track towards getting my license. I now use EFT in every therapy session I have with a client. I had decided that practicing psychotherapy without applying some form of energy psychology as well, would be tantamount to practicing therapy with my hands tied behind my back. I wasn’t willing to do it. It didn’t feel safe for my clients.
As a sidebar, it didn’t feel safe for me either. I now specialize in grief recovery, trauma and depression. As you can imagine the material I am exposed to from my clients has the potential to really trigger me! With EFT, I feel safe. I know I can remain grounded and hold that space for my clients’ pain and suffering. If I need to afterwards, I can use EFT to quickly eliminate any distress their stories might trigger in me. With EFT, the concern I had about becoming re-traumatized by my clients became moot. This was a huge relief and an essential condition for my returning to work.
I haven't forgotten my son; I'm not in denial about how he died; I still miss him terribly. There will forever be a jagged-edged hole in my heart. But the once unbearable grief no longer brings me to my knees. And the jagged edges are softening. His suicide is no longer a barrier to my enjoying and appreciating what remains of my life. The shift for me, personally, has been remarkable. I would even venture to say...life-affirming.
But don't take my word for it. Experience EFT yourself.
Energy Psychology Practitioner
Marriage & Family Therapist Intern #60852 (California)
Julian, Gone Too Soon
January 21, 1990 – June 1, 2010