Right after Shayna passed I sought out some professional counseling. Ty and I did some sessions together. I did two or three on my own. I found the counseling helpful being in completely uncharted territory. I wanted to seek out the advice of someone who has studied this and people who have been there. I was very fortunate to meet the woman who runs Companions On A Journey. Not only has she studied grief, she has been through it. Sheila was invaluable. But the real saving grace has been friends. People near and far, people in person and via the magic of the Internet, lunches, walks, going to movies, going to dinner- all of these things have helped.
Our lives revolved completely around the girls for 18 years. During this time we maintained friendships. But, for me anyway, they were always secondary. And frankly I have very, very few people I would use the term “friend” to describe. Kayla and I prefer a few deep relationships over many shallow ones. I’m not one for small talk. If you don’t want to discuss the meaning of life, religion or politics, I’m not all that interested. The girls came first. Kayla moving out was an adjustment. And Shayna was so socially active a lot of the time it was almost as if she didn’t live here. We were just starting to ease into life on our own again when we were thrust in with no warning and no choice in the matter. Ty has maintained a great support group throughout the decades. Me, not so much. It was amazing to see how some friends stepped up though. Some people who I had never met in person became big parts of my life. Friends who had kind of drifted away came back. People I had never met drove hours and even flew to come to Shayna’s service. People I considered acquaintances stepped up and proactively reached out to me, something I don’t do. My calendar quickly filled up with lunches and walks and other outings. And these are friends I can be real with. When they ask “How are you doing?” , it’s actually a question they want to hear the answer to, not just a space filler in a meaningless exchange of words.
Counseling is great and counseling is sometimes necessary. I would not hesitate to back to a counselor if I felt it would . But, a good friend is better (and cheaper) than the best counselor. A friend who you can be real with, who doesn’t tire of hearing you complain, a friend who will call you up and drag you out if necessary- get yourself one of those.