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Living with a Hole in Your Heart
A friend or family member is missing and the police have few clues, if any. You live with uncertainty, the possibilities haunting you. You don’t know whether to grieve and move on, or cling to hope, month after month, with no certainty of every being freed from the waiting. This particular type of suffering demands the support of a trained counselor.
Bearing the Unbearable
- Counselors can provide coping strategies.
- A friend in need, an ear to hear your sorrow.
- An outsider to help you plan.
The Day-to-Day Anguish
The open-ended loss of a missing person is distinct, unlike any other kind of grief. Because it doesn’t resolve itself and because love often refuses to let go of hope, resolution is difficult to impossible, and grief and fear are regularly reawakened. Learning how to cope with the ongoing nature of the catastrophe isn’t unlike learning to live in a war zone, with no peace in sight, or surviving with a cyclical disease. There are skills and techniques that can make coping easier for you and for those around you, and there are resources you can draw on as you build a life that can endure the constant highs and lows of unresolved loss.
Finding help learning these skills often means finding a sound and professional counselor who has training in long-term stress conditions. The survival skills necessary to deal with an unhealthy and painful situation for extended periods of time aren’t automatic, and many can’t find them without guides. Let a trained counselor be that guide for you.
Someone to Hear Your Pain
The stress is incredible, the grief intense, the insecurity maddening, and the fear beyond belief. Yet to express all of these emotions can actually increase the stress of those around you who are already dealing with their own pain, or can lead you to interfere with the professionals you depend on to try to find your missing loved one. You can’t vent at work and you can’t unload to friends forever because even if they allow it, there isn’t much they can do to help.
A professional counselor is essentially a professional listener. He or she understands the need to open up, to express the feelings and examine them in the open air. A counselor feels compassion but not pity; offers strength, but not a true relationship. A counselor is outside the firestorm you’re surviving, and can provide help and insight as no other can. Don’t deprive yourself of a needed emotional release: by providing a safe and appropriate situation in which you can express true and vital feelings, it can be easier to maintain courage and control in situations where breakdown is neither safe nor appropriate.
Getting Through the Days
In order to endure a long stretch of pain with no certainty of an end point, you must make plans. Preparing for stress, planning for anxiety, determining if and when you need medication to deal with your pain and loss, working out sensible approaches to meeting your obligations without falling down on the job, and working out how to carve out some kind of a normal life from your own suffering, demands good strategic and tactical planning. A counselor is trained in helping you plan how to live with grace and integrity under intense fire.
Don’t handicap yourself in a situation in which you are already dealing with more than is fair, find a counselor and utilize them. Give yourself every advantage as you seek some inevitable conclusion. To locate a capable counselor, first look to the police and local resources. Religious organizations, state and county health departments, and your own doctor are good referring sources. If you are dissatisfied, a reliable referral agency can often locate a suitable professional with the experience you need.