After an initial therapy session, I need to write a treatment formulation. This includes a brief description of the person seeking therapy and my best guess at what might help.
When I write a formulation, I tend to include certain therapeutic themes.
One of them is this:
Grieving old losses.
I do believe that most people have losses, from the past, that could be attended to, in a new way.
I know that I do.
I know that I still am grieving the loss of both my parents. That is a work in progress.
I am especially aware of losses, where the grieving has barely begun.
This week, as I prepare for the 50th anniversary of November 22, 1963, I am becoming aware of a loss I have not yet grieved.
The loss of President John F. Kennedy.
As I have blogged about, several times this year (and especially lately), I was 10 years old when President Kennedy was killed.
However, I wasn’t awake, during that time. I was undergoing my first heart surgery, for the implantation of my first cardiac pacemaker.
So I’ve always felt different, that way. When people of my generation discuss where they were when JFK was killed, my story is …. weird, I guess.
This is the way I found out that President Kennedy was dead:
They had gotten me out of bed, days after my surgery, and somebody was taking me around in a wheelchair, down the corridor of the Children’s Hospital ward. As we passed by each patient room, I saw the TVs, mounted up high, on the wall.
On each TV, I saw the same image. The same image, over and over again, as somebody wheeled me by.
I had never seen anything like that before, on TV. And it was on every TV.
Days before, I had asked a question, twice, and received a world-shifting answer. The question had been, “What’s that?” when I saw a large pacemaker, implanted under my skin.
When I saw the coffin, I MUST have been afraid to ask that same question.
I don’t remember the fear. But I do remember asking the question.
And that’s when I found out that my beloved president, John F. Kennedy, had been shot.
By a man named Lee Harvey Oswald.
I couldn’t take in that unfamiliar name, I’m sure.
Why did he kill the President?
Nobody knew. And he was dead, too. He had been killed, by another stranger.
How was all this possible?
HOW WAS ANY OF IT POSSIBLE?
I couldn’t answer that. I was only 10.
I wonder if anybody, awake during that time, could answer that.
This week, as Friday — the 50th anniversary of 11/22/63 — approaches, I have resolved to grieve old losses, as well as I can.
I am taking Friday off from work. I have committed to be especially kind to myself, that day.
One way to be kind to myself is this: To remember that I am not alone in my grief. Even though my experience of that loss was very different, I share the trauma of that loss with millions of people.
I am not alone.
Also, since I was 10, I’ve avoided details about what happened during that time.
I resolve to open up to the details, now. And to turn away, if I choose.
And more importantly, I resolve to open up to the grief of that loss, of the president we loved.
I think I’m ready for that, now.
Thanks to picsofwisdom.com (for the image of JFK), to those who are grieving losses everywhere, and to you — especially — for visiting today.