Sunday, January 27, 2013

The "Professionals"

I guess I'm back on the theme of walking in others' shoes, and the fact that you never know a person until you walk in their shoes.  In general, I think that we find that our friends and family don't know what to say to us.  I'm now starting to think that the "professionals" also don't know what to say.

Recently, the Ricki Lake show featured a segment with a couple grieving the loss of their newborn son.  I saw this clip when it started making its round through the babyloss community.  Per the usual, there was a counselor/therapist to provide some guidance to the couple.  This particular segment featured Mike Dow.  Have you heard of him?  He's the current reality show therapist du jour - "Freaky Eaters" on TLC, VH-1's "Couples Therapy", or "Diet Rehab".  Well, this guy comes to talk to this couple, and tells them they're "stuck" in the grieving process (Kubler-Ross's Stages of Grief) and "need to move on".  I'm not saying that "Dr. Mike" isn't a highly trained professional; his website lists a whole slew of degrees and specializations, primarily in the area of couples and family therapy.  He is not a grief counselor.  He has not experienced the loss of a child.

In my own life, for about the last year or so, I've been working with a psychiatrist on a research project.  At our last meeting, a question was raised by my advisor regarding a separate project.  She wanted to know about measuring depression and other psychiatric illness in women who've experienced stillbirth, and when it goes from grief to something more serious.  The psychiatrist didn't know about any research into that specific question, but shared what he knew about PTSD after stillbirth.  He ticked off a number of behaviors that could possible represent PTSD. Well, ya'll, I guess I have PTSD, then.  And, it would be my guess, that every other woman whose lost a pregnancy or living child does, too.  One example he mentioned was changing OBs so that you don't have to back to the office where you found your baby had died or not having to deliver at the same hospital. He listed a few other items that I know are very common.

I bring this all up to say that, really and truly (from my point of view at least) that even the professionals don't know what it's like.  They know what those very thick, expensive medical texts tell them, and they know what "normal" is.  I guarantee that no textbook has told them what the "new normal" is.  Thought: would it be fair to limit the position of grief counselor to those who have grieved?

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