Before I became a grief counseling intern at Gilchrist, I felt well prepared to address the diverse range of concerns that were introduced by my clients, but admittedly became paralyzed when assigned to counsel a middle-aged woman who suddenly and unexpectedly lost her husband. Whether it was the culture in which I lived or my own history of enduring few losses, I experienced death as a taboo.
My hope for my internship with Gilchrist was to gain an increased level of comfort around death and the skills and insight to offer healing to those suffering from loss. What I gained, however, was more life-changing than I could have anticipated.
I can thank the welcoming and compassionate counseling staff at Gilchrist for playing a large part in making my experience so rewarding. Their guidance and expertise has proved to be invaluable, and served as a strong foundation for my learning. It has been my clients, however, who unknowingly taught me some of the greatest lessons that will last a lifetime. Below are several of the insights that I gained from working with my clients at Gilchrist:
- Death is not taboo. If death is taboo, then life must be, as well. We may be uncomfortable talking about death, but broaching the conversation is necessary to also honor the lives we live.
- None of us are immune to death or to suffering. Loss is a universal experience. We are fellow travelers on a journey to make sense of life and death, together.
- Human beings are profoundly resilient. I have been awestruck watching individuals transform some of the deepest levels of pain into growth, liberation and self-transcendence.
- Life is incredibly delicate and precious; absolutely nothing is guaranteed. Take no moment for granted, especially quality time spent with loved ones. It has been a gift to not only accept this fact mentally, but to understand and feel it to the depths of my being.
I will be forever grateful for my internship at Gilchrist. Though my time here was short, I believe I am walking away with a depth of awareness and wisdom that would take a lifetime to accomplish without this experience. I now have the building blocks to cope better with death and loss in my personal life, and that of my clients. Despite this leg of my journey coming to an end, the lessons will remain, and my perspective on life and death will be forever changed.
Gilchrist Bereavement Counseling Intern