“You are not going to feel like this forever.”

I looked into the eyes of my grief therapist and found empathy and even saw a tear reflecting in the corner of her eye. I wanted so badly to believe her. But I couldn’t. Not then.

I looked down at the unraveling on the wrist of my navy blue sweater. The same sweater I wore yesterday. The one I picked up from the corner of my bedroom floor and that was probably wrinkled. I didn’t care. It represented my life right now.

Unmotivated.

Unraveling.

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It had been six weeks since my mom died. I went to this therapist to fix me. Snap me out of it. “Why can’t I stop being so sad?” 

She took a bit of time choosing her response.

“I would be more concerned if you weren’t sad.”

That wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I wanted a timeline. A visual plan to get out of feeling so depressed. I longed to smile again. And laugh like I actually meant to. Feeling robotic and going through the motions didn’t work for me. I wanted myself back. Why wasn’t she fixing me?

I also felt something else weigh so heavily on me. Shame.

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Shame for needing to see a therapist. Shame for needing medication to function and sleep. My own mother powered through cancer treatments and hospital stays and she didn’t need a therapist.

Why was I so weak?

I expressed these thoughts to my therapist as I unraveled some more of my sweater. She sat in silence after I was done talking. Maybe this wasn’t working. Maybe I was going to feel like this forever.

“Would you talk to a friend this way?”

I looked up and she waited for my answer. When I didn’t say anything she proceeded and moved her chair closer.

“If your best friend just lost someone they loved, would you tell them they were weak for asking for help? That it wasn’t OK to feel overwhelming sadness?”

I stopped playing with my sweater and for the first time, something ignited inside of me. It made sense.

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“Try to be your own best friend right now. Talk to yourself like you are talking to a friend.”

I left that appointment with a new outlook. I wasn’t weak for asking for help. It took strength to ask in the first place.

And maybe we all need to talk to ourselves like we are talking to a friend going through the same thing.

We are hard on ourselves. I can assure you that you won’t feel this way forever. You just have to change that voice inside of your head. It takes practice, but it’s worth it.  

Be your own best friend and love yourself through whatever you may be going through. 

Kristie Reitz

I am a mom of 3 kids and a teacher of the visually impaired in Cranberry Twp, PA.