Thriver, Daisy*, sought counselling when she lost her beloved friend, Buttercup*, who died by suicide. In this interview, she shares her counselling journey.
Photo by Zhivko Minkov on Unsplash
ThriveSg: How did your counselling journey begin?
Daisy: Out of desperation. I remember crying uncontrollably in class one day, trying very hard to stifle my sharp gasps for air. That was when I figured I needed help.
Thankfully, my school counsellor’s booking system didn’t have a cancel option, so I felt obligated to turn up out of respect for his time. I went on to see a total of 5 counsellors over 2+ years (partially due to changes to my educational institution).
Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash
ThriveSg: Out of all the possible solutions you could choose from, why counselling?
Daisy: It started with me feeling helpless, but knowing I needed help. I had spoken to a friend about counselling before, so I decided to give it a shot. If not for counsellors who arranged the first session quickly with me, though, I would have lost momentum and motivation.
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
ThriveSg: What did you appreciate about the counselling experience?
Daisy: Through counselling, I felt:
(i) Listened to without being judged
Counsellors are trained to regulate my outbursts of emotions and I felt safe to break down in their presence.
(ii) Guided by a trained questioner
My counsellors knew how and when to ask appropriate questions to patiently and lovingly guide me to process my thoughts and feelings. I may or may not immediately feel better, but over time, I noticed progress!
(iii) A healthy and gentle push to grieve instead of hide
When I first started counselling, I loved to answer my counsellor with “I don’t know” to difficult questions he posed. It was my “easy way out”—so much easier to throw out those three words than dig through memories with Buttercup and experience the stabbing pain of missing her. But suppression didn't help me to move on at all.
Thankfully, my counsellor called me out on that—firmly but gently—and never gave up trying to help me. Every counselling session after that, I held onto his words and they have been a great encouragement to me that grief is not something to go around but to go through.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
ThriveSg: How has counselling helped you in your grieving?
Daisy: I now have a better relationship with myself, Buttercup, and God.
I only learnt to grieve when I received guidance through counselling.
Before my breakdown, I spent a year in utter denial that losing Buttercup was painful for me. The shock and pain was so intense that I chose to disconnect with it. However, that also meant disconnecting from our relationship and suppressing all thoughts of Buttercup. I didn't want to talk or even think about her, and if anyone tried to bring her up I would quickly shut them down, but not before a lump formed in my throat.
Through counselling, I learnt to allow my thoughts and feelings to surface in their time, instead of suppressing them. Initially, it was really intense and I cried at almost every counselling session.
Although it was uncomfortable—stuffy nose and puffy eyes, y’all—allowing myself to cry meant allowing myself to miss her and acknowledge the importance of our relationship and closeness of our bond. Over time, the crying has diminished—I haven't cried since sharing this!—but my love for her continues, and she will always occupy a special space in my heart.
In remembering Buttercup, and allowing myself to cry when I need to, I now feel free to laugh, because I no longer feel guilty for enjoying the wonderful memories we shared. I still miss her, but I’m also able to feel thankful for our precious time together. She continues to inspire many things I do today.
In bringing my raw emotions to God, I hear His gentle voice telling me it’s okay to be honest; He knows what I’m going through. He tells me He loves me, loves that I can be honest with Him, and that He will walk hand-in-hand with me through this journey.
Being in touch with myself also means being able to connect with others. I’ve had the privilege of journeying with others in their struggles with grieving, and I believe my personal grief journey has enabled me to bless others.
Photo by Count Chris on Unsplash
ThriveSg: What challenge(s) did you face in counselling?
Daisy: My first encounter with a counsellor (not one of the five) was unpleasant (though my emotional state at the time might have contributed to it), which led me to be resistant to counselling initially.
I also initiated to end two (out of the five) counsellor-client relationships I had, because I didn't see myself making progress. Instead, I found my heart burdened after our sessions.
I thank God I didn’t give up on finding the right counsellor and eventually I did at ThriveSg.
Photo by Stainless Images on Unsplash
ThriveSg: Any advice on grief to share?
Daisy: I really like these quotes shared by my counsellor, Pamela from ThriveSg about grief:
“Grief is a very mysterious process. It takes you to the place you need to go, but at this point, you don’t need to know where that place is.”
I still don’t know how grief took me here, but I know that it’s a better place. Looking back, I see God’s hands shaping my journey throughout the way.
“Grief brings us closer to the person we have lost and maintains a continuing connection.”
After grieving, I actually feel closer to Buttercup because I can remember and value the good times we shared, and not just focus on the bad memories. After all, “what is grief, if not love persevering?”
Another thing I learnt is that in those intervals where I wasn’t intentionally processing my grief, my pain was calling out to be witnessed. In being drawn to books about pain, or experiencing an inexplicable ache within, this cry to be seen and heard was manifesting without my knowledge. And it was crying out… to me. While I refused to acknowledge it, it would continue to hang over me like a shadow. But when I was finally willing to sit still and let it wash over me, as much as it hurt, I got to see the rainbow after the rain.
*Names have been changed to protect the identities of those in the article.
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ThriveSg serves young people (17-25) from all walks of life and of different faiths. We believe that everyone has the capacity to thrive significantly when empowered and supported through growing in self-discovery, emotional wellness and resilience, and mental health.
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