Erin’s Story

Erin’s Story

I have had “Erin” on my mind and wanted to share her success story.  Her long-term commitment to healing and recently newfound freedom from grief reminds me why I chose this profession and why I so passionately believe in the power of grief recovery.  I wish you could meet her and see this transformation.  Her face embodies hope and restoration.  Then, you would want that for yourself.


Two years ago, Erin came into my office and shared her struggles with depression and PTSD – hopelessness, problems sleeping and eating, isolation, hyper vigilance, nightmares, flashbacks, and much more.  Erin knew she was going through a lot, but was motivated and took courageous steps to treat her symptoms and began working toward recovery immediately.

Even after her initial struggles began to improve, Erin was incredibly dedicated and brave and kept coming to therapy every week.  What we uncovered together was that she felt emptiness from a lack of love from her mother.  As Erin processed this, she began to remember some of her first explicit memories, memories about mom making sure that she felt as unloved and unwanted as a three-year-old could possibly feel.  This incredibly painful realization resulted in many months of intense grief work.  Erin was 25-years-old but the hurts that started at age three were still there.  She felt angry, ashamed, embarrassed, lost, and these feelings came back and cycled through in different shapes and sizes throughout our time together.

About a year into treatment, I brought up termination (ending therapy) as an idea for the distant future.  Erin came back the next session and told me she couldn’t stop crying the entire week.  “What came up?” I asked.  Erin shared she didn’t feel cared for by anyone, not even me.  Erin wasn’t just grieving her mom, she was grieving the entire world.

Erin continued to put some serious energy and commitment into her healing journey.  She began to  challenge her own internal messages of being unlovable and was vulnerable in letting me be with her even when she feared I would leave.  I saw this subtle change in Erin.  She started making friends and standing up for herself.  When I complimented her she smiled and even agreed to my comments.  It wasn’t a magical, instantaneous moment, but I was beginning to see the result of Erin’s decision to believe in her own value and self worth.

Erin told me last week that she is ready to terminate.  She shared her thoughts and feelings to some friends and they committed to support her through this process.  Erin feels safely cared for by others and knows I care for her, too.

Thoughts about Grief Recovery and Erin’s story

  • Grief recovery may or may not happen immediately following a loss.  For Erin, it was working through the loss of feeling unloved from decades before.

  • Grief is often covered up by pathological conditions.  Erin and I initially focused on her depression and PTSD before uncovering the hurts and grief from early childhood.

  • Grief affects our understanding of the world.  Before Erin confronted the loss of a loving mom, she was impacted by this in her relationships, her own parenting and her self-esteem.

  • Grief does not always look like the classic 5 Stages of Loss by Kubler-Ross (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance).  Erin faced other issues including confusion, chaos, shame and passivity.

  • True grief recovery can lighten the load.  Erin comes to session exuding a brightness that I have never seen before.  She walks with a newfound lightness and her eyes look shinier.  It’s hard to explain – you’d have to see and experience it for yourself.

*”Erin” gave full permission to share her success in my blog.  She feels proud that her efforts in therapy can be an encouragement to others. 

  1. Quentin Hafner
    November 18, 2013 at 6:43 pm -

    Cool blog post Cerina…keep up the good work!

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