Two weeks ago, I posted this in the subreddit SELF on Reddit:
My father died. Toworrow I have a meeting with a counselor/psychotherapist. How do I get the most out of it?
My father died one month ago after 10 years of ALS, which is a neurodegenerative disease that causes the motor neurons which control voluntary muslce movement to disintegrate, and voluntary muscle movement to slowly disappear accordingly (also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s Disease). He died of pneumonia because he didn’t have enough muscle power to cough up the mucus in his lungs.
I am the only one who was in contact with him for all 10 years, apart from a few friends he was in contact with over email (but never met after he got sick), and the helpers who were at his house for an hour once a day, every day for the last two years of his life. There was a girl he especially liked, whom I have never met.
Until two and a half years ago, there was no other family than me. Then I finally got him to meet my girlfriend, and they became close friends. I am grateful that they met. It is amazing for me to have had someone to share my father with. Living a life while being alone with awaiting his death was a demanding task. She is and he was an amazing person, and it was wonderful experiencing them together.
Then, one month ago, in the hospital, after two weeks of pneumonia, he stopped breathing. Then his heart stopped beating. A few days ago his dead body and the coffin it was in were burned in a crematorium, and put into an urn. In a few days, the urn will be put in the ground.
Tomorrow afternoon I have a meeting with this counselor/psychotherapist, for whom I have great respect. He works at a private hospital that works with people with my fathers’ and other neurodegenerative diseases, and he has been a fantastic help before. I have been in sessions with him about 7-8 times with him, and it is free (through insurance), but I only have a few sessions to make do with. He covers a lot of people, has limited time and I think a lot of the others are worse off mentally than me.
My #1 question to you is:
How do you think I should go about it?
I am a male, 28 years old.
Forgive me if there are errors in my English, and please comment on them, as I am not a native speaker but want to get better. And if there is something you would like to know about me to better answer my question, then ask.
tl;dr: My father died after 10 years of debilitating illness. My #1 question to you is: What do you think I should do or think in order to get the most out of my psychotherapy/counseling session tomorrow?
Bonus #2 question: If one of your parents died tomorrow, what would you wish you had told them?
I made two obvious mistakes, 1: The “tl;dr”. Having thought about it for a bit, I really think it is an awful genre. 2nd (and ever bigger) mistake was the BONUS QUESTION. What did think I was, the host of a HOME SHOPPING TV ad?
I knew as soon as I saw it posted that I would regret the “tl;dr”. Then I thought of Beckett saying: Fail. Fail again. Fail better.
Nevertheless, several people replied, among them one who proclaimed to be getting his PhD in clinical psychology. I believed him, but did not look into the matter. I replied to him quickly, but waited too long with the others. I put replying aside and ignored it. Then finally yesterday, I spent half an hour replying to all of them. I need to do the same with an even older Reddit post with several replies I haven’t responded to. I think I should reply now that they replied.
In other news: All my respondents have been very supportive. It’s great.
But it’s not an easy genre. I have found obviously good posts though, like the top comment for this one (advice for police invistigation given by one redditor to another whose friend was killed by a hit and run driver), and I like the karma system (although the vastness of it all makes for a lot of disposability, which I am prejudiced to think makes for “less” quality, but we’ll see). On the one hand, if I spend more time there, I could probably improve my participation and make something I like out of it, and find more images like this one to accompany my posts here on the blog:
I kind of really like these AdviceAnimals. A collectively upheld cast of joke characters. They are also kind of really a waste of time. But not all empty.
The day after I posted on the above question Reddit, I asked the therapist if he thought it would be a good idea to bring a voice recorder with me to a therapy session. I asked because I had been thinking about it as a method for writing, but was unsure about the effects it would have on my honesty. Which I should make an effort to keep as strong as possible in therapy, as I agreed with another participant on Reddit that it should.
I don’t feel people ask enough on how it is for me now my father is dead. It is not easy either, taking my turn to speak. It’s like my friend the saxophone player said the other day to his brother, who had just played a concert: You don’t get a solo — you take it! I believe he might have been joking. Imagine someone they would consider a fool saying it.
I am thinking of doing an IAmA (I am A) … AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit in an attempt to solve the problem. The topic could go like this:
My father died 6 weeks ago and I feel like people don’t ask me enough questions about it. AMA
I think the directness could be a good thing. It’s also kind of whiny, which I don’t like. It’s also honest. Maybe I like that it doesn’t try and impress anyone. It calls out for them to ask questions. I wonder if it would work. I should think less, and do more. And I will once my exams are over.