Monday, August 18, 2014

Another Goodbye

SUMMARY: A very personal goodbye, indeed.

I've had the illness commonly known as depression about four times in my life. After my divorce in 2000 (and a whole slew of other things at the same time), I was lucky to find a woman in independent practice who walked me gently through my grief and pain.

But when I switched to Kaiser, I no longer had access to her.

Two and a half years ago, when I realized again that the darkness and immobility had crept in, I asked for an appointment with a counselor and they assigned me to Dan Tindle.



He worked with me for over two years, both individually and in a close-knit weekly group. Gradually, with me resisting and even kicking and screaming (mostly metaphorically) a good portion of the way, he educated, prodded, joked, listened, prodded more, asked hard questions, provided deeper insight into my approach to life, and supported me in so many ways. By May of this year, I realized one day that I just felt--happy and contented. And again the next day. And again later that week--happy and confident. I came to realize that, wow, I had completely exited the house of depression and moved into a healthy mental and emotional state. 

I retired from the group and our regular sessions at that time because I had found my firm footing and was ready to go it alone.

I went back to talk to him once in May when the young woman I knew in agility dropped dead suddenly of a heart attack and I was struggling with the grief of that and of the sudden loss of a friend's small dog. He helped me through that in a single visit; helped me to find a path for my sorrow and pain.  
I most recently made an appointment to see him on August 5th because of the sudden and rather stunning developments with my spine. We talked and I brought him up to date on my back issues and how I'm doing, which, in fact, was very well. I'm functional and calm and, for the most part, avoiding the spinning-out-of-control "Why me" and "Life will be horrible" sorts of typhoons, which I doubt that I could have done a year ago, or even 5 or 6 years ago. 

Three days after that, he died of a heart attack. Very sudden. He's about 10 years younger than I am, a big health food guy, a runner. 

I feel lost. Grief stricken. Stunned.  And I feel for his other patients as well who are still in process. Shocked. 

I think the world of him. He shared of himself and his own journey to emotional well-being as well as bringing out our deepest fears and needs and angers and pains, and helping us to find a way through them. He was funny, smart, clever, intense, honest, direct, perceptive, determined, deeply caring, opinionated, oh so much fun to talk to (well, except when he was working hard at getting me to drag out the things that I didn't want to drag out, and even so, I found it fascinating at every step, how he just knew where to dig and what to say and when--to me and to others).

I -- am stuck at where to go from here. I had been comforted by the fact that he'd be there if I ever needed his skills again. I'm angry at the universe for taking such an amazing man who had so very much to contribute to the world.  I believe that he and others in the department gave me the skills to work through this. But--

I--

Goodbye, Dan. You were wonderful. I'll miss you. And thank you with all my heart for helping me to find my life again.

10 comments:

  1. (This may be a recreation of a comment I just made. I don't see that it went through.)

    Ellen, I am so very sorry for such a profound personal loss, and it sounds as though such a loss to many, many others. I find myself hoping that there might be a chance that at least some of the members of your former "close knit group" might be able to get together and talk through the traumatic shock of a sudden death such as Dan's. And then perhaps, later, to offer comfort in grieving him. I know you will be fine whether you "go it alone" in honor of his memory, or "go it in the company of caring others," in honor of his memory. I am thinking of you and my heart hurts for you.

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    1. Thanks, Mary; I don't see two copies, just the one. He led a Wednesday-evening group that I graduated myself from back 2-3 months ago. They'll still meet, just with someone else, to talk it through. I can't make it this coming wednesday, but I do have outside contact with 2 of the group members and I've been in touch with them.

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  2. Awwww :( Sorry to hear of his passing and your loss of a good counselor and friend. I hope you will remember your time together and his helpful words from the past to move forward eventually and hopefully find a new fabulous mentor if you shall ever need help again. Sending a big hug!!

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    1. I hope so, too, Maura, although with all the time we spent working on me, at the moment it's hard to imagine starting over with someone else. Thanks for the hug!

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  3. So sorry for your loss. It's especially tragic that he was so young.

    Depression is a nasty thing, and it does have a way of sneaking up on us when we least need it (not that we ever need it). The coping skills that Dan taught you and countless others are a piece of him that will live on. A worthy legacy.

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    1. That's what I think, too--a wonderful legacy. Saving people's lives in one form or another is a great thing.

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  4. E.L. is right. The skills he taught you are his gift to you and the rest of the group. Still it's just unfair, isn't it. That he had to die so young, so apparently healthy, with so much potential to help so many more. All you can do now is let the grief work through you, use the skills he helped you develop. Talk to each other. Know that it's OK to feel sad. A mountain of hugs to you and the others and to his family. I'm so so sorry.

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    1. Not only so young, but he was a runner and apparently big into healthy eating as well. Sigh. Dawn, thanks.

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  5. Oh how sad. His poor family. It seems there is a lot of this ( death) going on right now.

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    1. There's undoubtedly a lot of death all the time--but, yeah, sure feels like a lot that are too young and too close to home, doesn't it.

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