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Archive for the ‘anger’ Category

I recall running into Dr. Matthews, my daughter Mary’s psychiatrist, some months after Mary’s suicide. She was someone I had always admired; and even to this day, my physician husband claims that she (now deceased) was the best psychiatrist he’s ever worked with professionally.

On the day in question, Dr. Matthews was wearing an expensive suit, her hair was nicely styled, and she exuded confidence. Resenting her for all of it, I began asking myself about justice. As in, how could a doctor with direct responsibility for Mary’s welfare go on living in such a nice, orderly way? After all, I wasn’t living in a nice, orderly way. My life was the opposite of nice and orderly, and the contrast was galling.

Years have passed, and now I see how wrong my perception was that day. Just because the severity of her grief makes a mother believe she is suffering at a uniquely profound level doesn’t mean that she is. Other survivors, including clinicians, also undergo unique, profound suffering.

“Twin bereavement” is the term researchers use on behalf of clinicians. “In addition to the personal grief reaction entailed in losing a client with whom there was a therapeutically intense or intimate relationship, this loss is likely to affect clinicians’ professional identities, their relationships with colleagues, and their clinical work” (John R. Jordan and John McIntosh, Eds. Grief After Suicide: Understanding the Consequences and Caring for the Survivors. New York: Routledge, 2011, p. 95).

Other researchers have found that mental health therapists describe losing a client “as the most profoundly disturbing event of their professional careers,” noting that a third of the therapists “experienced severe distress that lasted at least one year beyond the initial loss” (Ibid).

Though seventeen years late, I’m saying, “Sorry, Dr. Matthews.” I finally grasp how hurt we all were, you not least. I finally get that we were all doing our best to survive Mary’s death. I finally realize your way was to put on a nice suit and see your patients hour after hour, same as always.

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