I don’t know why bad things happen. I can tell you that one thing I have learned in counseling people for 22 years is that there is no justice, no logical reason why some people have to bear so much while others so little.
The most common question I am asked is how do I hear so many sad stories and not take it home. Usually I shrug and say I don’t know. Other times I try to explain how I keep my boundaries. But really the truth is I think this is just my calling. I don’t make a lot of money, but I get a lot of reward. I hear so often how I have helped someone. When other people are making big dough but getting no recognition, I know I am making a difference every day in what I do and I know I am supposed to be doing this.
In counseling school they say we are supposed to remain impartial and detached. But as I told my two interns today, first and foremost I have to be real. People don’t want a cold robot as a therapist. If I hear a sad story, I cry. Is therapy my place to air my issues and share my pain, no absolutely not. I am here for you not me. But if I am hearing a painful story and it moves me to tears, I’m not afraid to show that.
Today was one of those days. My first client was terminally ill and dealing with a shortened life expectancy. My second client buried two spouses. My third has a best friend who is dying of cancer, a colleague whose son died last week in a car accident and a daughter with a disability. My next client had a baby die years ago but is a nurse giving back, but now caring for a terminally ill 12 year old.
Today I heard a story of a woman whose daughter died in a car accident and then had the moment to hold someone else’s child as he died from a car accident. And discussed a story of a mother whose 9 year old son died of a brain tumor and her Christian gift to him was to wash his body before he was buried.
How do humans bear the pain and grief they are subjected to? You would think after all these years I’d have an answer for that. And yet I don’t. I continue to be in awe of the strength of the human spirit’s ability to cope.