Robyn Huck offers advice on how a homework assignment can carry the gains of a counseling session out into daily life. Two detailed case studies show how well-designed homework can be developed collaboratively so that it is tailor-made to a counselee’s abilities, problems, and motivation.
"I've never told anyone this before." I've heard this sentence too many times to count. When I hear it, I have immediate compassion, because whatever is to come next is extremely sensitive information that, for any number of reasons, has remained a deep, dark secret until this moment. And I admit, whenever I hear this sentence I also cringe a little inside, because there's a good chance I'm about to hear something that will break my heart.
In these Grief Diary blogs, I’ve spoken about my experience of grieving the death of my father. Writing about it has been good for me. Thank you for joining in. This will be my final post in the series and I wish to make one last point: the experience of grief is extremely valuable. That may sound strange, let me explain.
How Grief has Value First, the sadness over losing a person means that person was important to you. When a void is felt and the emptiness hurts, it is proof that this life had impact. In a quiet, private way, the sadness I feel over losing my dad is honoring him.
I am here in wintery Vermont, looking over an unbelievably beautiful landscape. The sun is just coming up, starting to make the snow twinkle as it does on the coldest of days. The snow is very deep, perfectly white and glistening smooth, completely covering the hilly terrain around our house. There are no tracks at all. The storm ended during the night, but no animals or people have yet to venture out.
It reminds me of a time years ago when our kids were heading to school. They used to walk through the woods for almost a quarter mile to get to the bus stop. (Yes, growing up in Vermont can, at times, be very idyllic.) On one particularly snowy morning I asked them if they’d be all right getting to the bus. My ten year-old said, “Of course we’ll be fine, we can still see where the path is.” The path through the woods was originally made by deer, who, for many decades had nibbled away the branches and packed the ground on their way to the stream that runs along the old dirt road where the school bus now picks up kids. It was true, even when fresh snow covered the ground, you could still tell where the path was.
My dad died a month ago. He was 79 and very healthy. He just suddenly fell over at home and died within minutes in my mother’s arms of an abdominal aneurysm. It was completely unexpected.
Of course, this is one of those moments that all the lessons God has taught us so far either prove to have taken hold, or not. And it’s a moment for new lessons as well. I’ve had plenty of both over the past weeks. As I process these lessons, I thought maybe I’d share them with you. Grief is complicated and covers a lot of emotional ground. It might involve difficult relationships, unclear beliefs, fear of future loss, or fear of dying. We become aware of loose ends, things unsaid, and wasted time. We can be sad on so many levels that they just tangle together.