Please Answer Your Phone

By the time my client shared this story, we had been together for about a year.  Each meeting showed progress and an openness not only to me but to herself.  I was hoping that she could feel “emptied” after her sessions.  I always like to imagine a pitcher filling a glass and becoming empty at the same time.  That is what good psychotherapy is all about.

During this session, she shared with me that frightening Sunday morning.  Her day started out with Mass, some shopping and reading the newspaper ads.

answer_the_phoneAt noon, the phone rang and her husband answered it but immediately handed the receiver to her.  The voice on the other end was the concerned brother-in-law of her son.  He had just received a disturbing email alluding to saying goodbye. That email was from my client’s son.

The reason for all this concern was the fact of the recent divorce of her son and daughter-in-law.  He had suffered greatly and recently exhibited symptoms of deep depression.  Always a good communicator, he had shared this with his brother-in-law and his mom.  Needless to say, this was terrifying to them both.

So this Mom simply called… and called… and called.  There was no answer on her son’s cell phone — just his recorded greeting.  After a dozen calls, leaving unanswered messages, and with her fear escalating, she screamed out, “NO! You cannot have him Lord.  Not this way!”  Of course, she was intimating that perhaps he had harmed himself.

My heart raced as she told this story.  Eventually her son did call, relaying the message for her not to be worried.  Not worry?  Of course she was!  I would have been too!  But sometimes words are just so easy to say but not so easy to understand.  Bottom line, suicide is a daily tragedy in our country and that is reality.  And in my professional opinion — this could have been true for her family!

About the Author

Maryann Hartzell-Curran, a retired educator and counselor, has written a personal account of her journey through the first year of grieving the loss of her husband in her book, “From We to Me,” to help support those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Maryann founded a successful family therapy practice and taught in the public and private sectors. She also founded and directed a church-based preschool in Lombard, Ill., and gained experience working with the elderly as director of a senior dining center. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in counseling from Illinois Benedictine University.

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