Browsing: Bette Freedson

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Vacillating between emotional pain and the somatic relief of psychic numbing, Marie came to my office bewildered and in shock. Two weeks earlier a truck had crashed into a car in which Marie’s mother was riding. Although the truck driver had survived, Marie’s mother and her partner had instantly died.

“I don’t know how you can help,” Marie said, her tired eyes revealing her grief. “You can’t bring my mother back or help me make sense of my loss. I’ve always had faith in a divine spirit, in an afterlife, but now nothing seems right.”

Given the traumatic impact of Marie’s loss, how could I help?

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“These are difficult times.” One member noted during my mid-November stress management group. “Everyone is angry. People who used to be friends are not speaking. It’s giving me stomach aches.”

“I know!” Her couch mate said with sadness in her voice. “There are too many changes. I’m having migraines.”

Group members discussed their usual stressors—interpersonal conflicts, worries about children and grandchildren, work stress, a few health concerns—but on that fall morning I sensed a difference in their presence and in each person’s felt sense of his/her stress.

“Maybe it would help to talk about it,” said a group member settled in the rocking chair. “In times like these we all need support.”