Giving Tuesday

 In Ocean Mental Health Services

Journey of Healing

Jennifer came to therapy just days after her husband died suddenly. Life for her and her young daughter changed forever when Jen discovered her husband in their home; he had overdosed on opiates. Jennifer was completely unaware that her husband had become addicted to heroin. Though she had noticed some changes in his behavior, he had continued to work at his job as a sales manager and maintain his normal routine.

Jennifer entered into therapy in a state of complete shock.  For those first few sessions, as her therapist, I sat with her in the crushing feeling of loss.  As we worked together over the course of months, she began to untangle the complicated mix of thoughts, feelings, and memories she initially had felt overwhelmed by. Gradually, she began to gain an understanding of addiction as a disease. The anger she felt towards her husband began to lose its intensity. She worked to parent her young daughter through the loss of her father. She found support through friends and family members, while learning to set healthy boundaries with other people in her life. Her journey of grief was ever changing, but continued to move towards a place where she could survive this and even to a place where the loss began to be a part of her story; but not her entire life.

As we neared the end of therapy, Jen talked about feeling empowered and in control of her life, her emotions, and her relationships. She was able to recognize her own strengths and could see herself being successful in the world, at her job, with her child, as a friend. As our final session, we reflected on the path we had taken together in treatment. Jen voiced the amazement she felt, saying that those first few weeks she never thought she would feel happiness again. She said what she most values is her ability to honor her husband’s memory while still living life herself.

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