The whole family benefitted from my counselling
- Wendy Varley waited years before seeking private counselling for the death of her fourth child
- Length of therapeutic relationship: 4 months
My fourth child was stillborn, at full-term. I asked my GP about counselling, but there was a long waiting list, and I didn't feel strong enough to do anything about it. As time went on, I avoided talking about the experience, least a flood of emotion pour out of me.
I had my fifth child – alive, kicking and healthy – just over a year later, and it was a few years more before I found time to see a bereavement therapist, privately. I chose her on the basis that she was local to me, and listed bereavement counselling as one of her specialisms.
I saw her once a week, and at the first session she anticipated that we would take time to come to the details of my baby's stillbirth. In fact, I was so ready to talk that it came out in a rush, and we spent the subsequent weeks unpicking the memories step by step, and talking (well, I talked; she mainly listened) about all kinds of other issues: other times I'd felt guilty, or abandoned; my childhood; relationships with my parents and siblings and friends.
I had very powerful dreams, which echoed and fed into the sessions, but I felt very safe discussing them with my counsellor. Once, I dreamed I was examining a case of bones analytically, forensically, literally facing up to mortality.
I found the courage to talk to my three-year old son about his “older” brother who hadn't lived
I found the courage to talk to my three-year old son about his “older” brother who hadn't lived, as I didn't want it to be a family secret that we kept from him. We drew a family tree together. So my stillborn baby does have a place in all our histories, my son's included.
The bereavement therapist helped me with all this, and after going once a week for about 16 weeks, I felt I had accepted what had happened. Of course, the grief was – is – still there, but it's integrated. I lost the fear of it “drowning” me. I can talk about it calmly.
You can find qualified, experienced therapists and counsellors who specialise in bereavement counselling on the welldoing.org directory from around London and the rest of the UK.
If you want to tell your therapy story – anonymously if you prefer – please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org