Tag Archives: loss

One Year on … Looking back at my first full year in private practice

Paual Fowle 23 March 2022

Things I have learnt

To trust myself – Its OK to have a wobble it doesn’t mean that all is lost. By digging deep, I found the confidence to believe in me and my ability.

Have a small good support network – I have found working in private practice can be tough sometimes so having a good team around me made up of an excellent Supervisor along with a Business Mentor have worked wonders. I have had ready access to clinical advice when needed and also a helping hand to clarify business matters when I have not been sure. Being invited to join Baines-Ball & Associates by Luan Baines-Ball following an introduction by Dr Mish Seabrook was a privilege.  The support and guidance from my peer group has been invaluable. The Saturday morning team meetings and CPD have been great to be part of. The opportunity to deliver a CPD session was something I had hoped I would do but being among my peer group soon enabled me to put all of my fears on one side.

Only to do what I am comfortable with – I have only picked up the work that I am comfortable with and feel competent to cope with. It would have been easy to pick up everything that has come my way but it has been important to me to feel safe in the knowledge that I am supporting my clients as ethically as I am able keeping us all safe. I have learnt and feel comfortable to now say no.

Only to retain what I need from the past – I carried with me a lot of experience from previous roles that have helped me develop into the therapist that I am today. The experiences that were tricky I have processed and learnt to let go.

Look after me, only I know what I need to succeed – I had a plan of how I wanted my Private Practice to evolve and what I wanted it to look like going forward. I wondered how it would feel that it was all down to me but I can say it is empowering to know that each time I welcome a new client into my therapy room together we begin a new journey. Some have been tough, but to sit alongside someone who is comfortable in my company as they grapple what is going on for them has been amazing so far.

It’s OK to take time out – This was a biggie for me at the start I didn’t want to take my foot off the pedal in case I missed something. What I learnt very quickly was in order for me to be on the top of my game I needed to rest. Invaluable support from my yoga teacher Helen Braithwaite @Benndyoga has taught me so much about looking after me. My two gorgeous Golden Retrievers have let me know when its time to take a break and we have enjoyed many reflective walks together.

It’s been a tough year. Losing my Best Friend following her brave battle with cancer in October has rocked me to the core but I have learnt from that experience too. Ann has inspired me to continue with the work that I do.

I guess the biggest thing that I have leant is that in life shit happens …. Its up to me how I deal with it and bounce back.

I take inspiration from a book that sits in my Therapy room and also in my Office called The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. The quote that comes to mind as I close my reflection is ‘When the dark clouds come …. Keep going, when the big things feel out of control, focus on what you love right under your nose, This storm will pass…..

Onwards and upwards, looking forward to another new year ..

And then it happened to me…

Paula Fowle 23 August 2021

I was on it

Having worked as a counsellor for a long time with a keen interest in bereavement support and anticipated loss support, feeling that I was ‘On it’ and could cope, little did I know!!! Recently my world was tipped upside down when hearing ‘the news that nobody wants to hear’ (see previous blog)

My ‘tailspin’

My dearest friend of very 30 years has been fighting various types of Cancer for the last 15 years, we have been together through scans, treatments, good news and bad. But recently hearing that ‘there was nothing else to be done’ apart from palliative care and ’End of Life Plan’ through me in a tailspin.

Where did all the things that have learnt in my training go?

Sitting in the chair supporting a client over the years has been a privilege, giving support to patients and their families whilst preparing death bed wills to ensure that those last-minute wishes are taken care of, ensuring that what ever can be achieved on the ‘Bucket list’ can be done is taken care of too. Seeing the path of acceptance and that final letting go of life when the patient feels their work here is done.

The patient knows best

I guess one thing that I have learnt during these special journeys is that the patient knows best, the patient is always the one in control, yes, the medication and pain relief help but the final decision to let go belongs to the patient and I know that the journey that my friend and I are on now will be the same.

What does dying feel like?

It is heart breaking watching someone so close slipping away, spending hour after hour in bed, waiting and wondering what is to come next and how it will feel. As we have joked about on many an occasion since the news broke, its not as though you can ring someone up and ask’ hey what does dying feel like?’

Finding the continuing bond

I have searched for things to help and things to make this manageable, but I feel now that there is nothing. I know when the time come it will be hard for me as it has been hard for my clients’ families to see but like them, I will get through it and what I have learnt will stand me in good stead. I just need to confidence to reach out for it and like others learn to create my ‘Continuing bond’

Finding the inspiration

A real inspiration for me has been the book ‘Languages of Loss ‘written by Sasha Bates. In the book Sasha takes the journey to fight with her grief following the sudden death of her Husband. She shares her struggle with her ‘professional self’ and her’ emotional self’. The death brings into question everything she has ever learned and believed would help her clients along the path in their grief journeys but amazingly she gets to a place of peace and understanding and slowly starts finds a way back….

Courage and time

I hope and I know that I will be the same, it will take time, courage but I will always have my memories of all that my Friend, and I have shared, nothing will ever take that away.

On hearing those dreaded words – ‘I am so deeply sorry we have done all that we can’

Paula Fowle 03 August 2021

Hearing the news

How many of us have been in this position, seeing a much-loved family member, a dear friend or colleague heroically fighting illness. Trying cope with every type of medication, treatment and advice thrown at them. To then receive the news that despite attempting every known route possible there is nothing more that the medical teams can do.

This is when the imaginary food mixer in the tummy kicks in!!!

Everyone around us is trying to cope and understand what has been said and what the future holds. none of us like uncertainty.

What are we supposed to do?

Each one of us will react in a different way and it may be hard to understand what others are feeling and saying. There will be a lot of questions that come to mind as together we all search for the answers.

What is the impact on us and those around us?

The impact on a family is huge when such news is received. There may be a lot of uncertainty about how much time is left, who do you need to share this information with. You may feel overwhelmed with fear and sadness.

How do I tell my children, what will they want to know?

If there are children involved each one will want information that they can digest and cope with; their reaction may be difficult for you to understand and leave you feeling more isolated that ever.

You may be wondering who is going to support you.

There will be a lot of questions after hearing the news for the well parent. this can be a real dilemma and a physically and emotionally exhausting time.

One of the hardest parts of all of this may be the disruption of the family routine and the change of roles within the family unit.

If poorly parent is a stay-at-home parent taking care of the children, the family home, and the dog, suddenly this is about to change. Few of us like change at any time but especially not in such circumstances as this.

Who is going to do the school run?

Who is going to do the washing and ironing?

Who gets the dinner and who will walk the dog?

Introduction of Others

The disruption may mean that others are stepping in to help either professionals or other family members or friends.

This may lead to the children feeling vulnerable and unsure possibly displaying actions and talking in a way that you have not been heard before, it is important to remember that everyone is hurting.

We all hurt in our own way, not all of us are able to reach out, some retreat into their shells.

Retreating into our shell

I have the image of a tortoise being unsure of a new route to take and withdrawing his head into their shell. These reactions can be hard to take particularly when you are feeling under pressure to hold things together and be there for everyone else.

The impact on the well parent is huge. The news may leave them confused, both physically and mentally exhausted. Although there may have been a lot of doubt about the future until these words are spoken there is always hope and a place for denying the truth.

Why wouldn’t you?? It is so hard to let go of someone special someone you love isn’t it.? To see the plans, the hopes and the dreams that were made for the future be swept away.

You may well be feeling, yesterday was a happy day … today I am not sure what type of day it is…

It’s all different now suddenly there are feelings of sadness, fear, and anger. There may also be feelings of wanting the suffering to stop but not being able to let go invoking feelings of guilt at ‘choosing the easy way out’.

Reaching out for support

There is no easy way to face such a situation but by seeking support from a Bereavement Counsellor you may feel be able to find your way. You will find acknowledgement in a non-judgemental way of your worries, your fears, and the stress of living with many uncertainties.

Trying to find your strengths … they will still be there

The support offered will give you an open space to communicate the fears and feelings that you may not want to share with others, it will help you to explore your strengths and encourage you to use them. It will give you a place to explore your fears for the future and to celebrate the good times in the past.

Making a plan

The time spent can offer an opportunity to plan what you need to say to your children, you know it will feel uncomfortable and will be distressing, think about what you might want them to know, what questions they might ask, it might be tricky dealing with the questions that come back at you, hopefully some of the time spent with your Counsellor can prepare you for this.

None of us are perfect

The one thing to remember with all of this, is we don’t always get things right. This situation will be different for us all; there is no right or wrong way.

Allow time for the news to sink in. Grant yourself the thinking time. By seeking support for yourself you will find the strength to support those suffering around you too.

A final thought:

Reaching out at a time of loss is the hardest thing to contemplate. A listening ear can offer you a safe place as you try to weather the storm.

See part 2