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Gravel roads, velvet dog ears, singing cardinals ... What's your therapy?

On Second Thought
Lead Summary
Lori Sorenson, editor

It’s been four months since we lost our Carson to suicide, and I haven’t yet made an appointment with a grief counselor.
I’m grateful for professionals who can guide a conversation, and I fully intend to have that conversation. I just haven’t felt the right moment or the right reason.
But that doesn’t mean I haven’t had therapy.
Webster defines therapy as “treatment intended to relieve or heal …” By this definition, I’ve already had more than my share of free therapy.
I find therapy in long, meaningful hugs. A grieving parent at the grocery store recently assured me the pain gets easier with time. There’s a certain comfort in shared tears, even if they escape in the produce aisle.
I find therapy in long walks on gravel roads — either alone with my thoughts or in the company of a good friend (who is also a good listener).
I find therapy in Chance’s thick, furry scruff. Dogs are also good listeners … he seems to understand the tears when I’m stroking his velvety, floppy ears.
I find therapy in deep snow and frosty mornings, knowing how much Carson would have enjoyed snowmobiling this winter. (Cold air and bright sunshine are good for fresh tears.)
I find therapy in church. I silently cried during a recent sermon about a mom (Mary) in Bible times who also lost her grown son under the most difficult of circumstances.
A cardinal sang to me one morning during our recent Florida vacation. I’ve never seen a cardinal in person and now wonder if it’s true that “when cardinals appear, angels are near.” Was it a message from Carson?
If nothing else, that little red bird and her beautiful song were therapeutic.
Tears, I’m told, play an important role in healing because they release stress hormones, like cortisol, and encourage the production of endorphins, which naturally relieve pain.
Holding back tears, therefore, isn’t healthy, and given that I’m not a “crier,” I assumed I’d need professional help in grieving for Carson.
Fortunately, the tears have found ways to escape. And fortunately, I’ve been blessed with the right people and the right opportunities in my grief process so far.
A friend on Saturday asked how I’ve been able to write columns in the Star Herald about such a devastating personal loss.
“It’s my therapy,” I said.
Thank you, dear readers, for sharing this journey with me and for being such great therapy.

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