Good-bye Again | by Linda Sherby, Ph.D, ABPP

08/15/2021 2:49 PM | Anonymous

Today's blog, "Good-bye Again," deals with the spike in Covid cases necessitating a return to virtual treatment yet again, leaving both patient and therapist to deal with a myriad of feelings.


Although it is not my norm, today I begin Laurie’s session. “I need to tell you, Laurie, that starting next week I’m going back to working from home.”

“What?!” she shrieks. “You’ve got to be shitting me! We just came back to your office! You know how much I need to see you. You can’t do this to me. You can’t, you can’t,” she says sobbing, her face buried in her hands.


“I knew this would be very difficult for you, Laurie, but you know how Covid cases are tearing through Florida. I can’t risk your health, mine or anyone else’s.”

“I hate you! I hate you!! You’re like a big tease. ‘Here I am and now I’m gone!’ I can never rely on you. I can’t rely on you any more than I could rely on anyone else.”

Although I know it’s very unlikely to help Laurie to feel better, I feel compelled to say, “Remember when you felt just seeing me once would be reassuring to you, would convince you that I was indeed alive and not a figure of your imaginings.”

Laurie looks at me scornfully. “You’re joking, right? What does it matter what I was feeling then? This is now and I feel like crap and it’s your fault.” Pause. “What if we wore masks?”

“You know the answer to that, Laurie. I wouldn’t be able to hear you and it’s impossible to do therapy if I can’t hear you. We can do therapy without seeing each other, but it’s impossible to do therapy without hearing each other.”

“So there’s no compromise?”

“I don’t know if it’s a compromise, but you now know that we will see each other at some point, we will be back in the office as soon as it’s safe.”

“As soon as YOU say it’s safe!”

“Yes, that’s true. It is my call. And that is part of what I do, Laurie, keep us both as safe as possible.”

“You’re talking about my mother, right?”

“Yes. She didn’t keep you as the six-year-old child safe when she killed herself and she certainly wasn’t keeping herself safe.”

“But I don’t see how that helps me now!”

“Well, I may be mistaken, but it seems to be that you are feeling a little calmer right this minute.”

“I’m feeling depressed. I’m feeling I have to deal with yet another loss, the loss of you. Makes me very sad.”

“Do you feel depressed or sad?”

“You always ask me that. I can never tell the difference.”

“Depression is more a feeling of numbness, of nothingness. And it’s often a result of anger turned inward, like turning your anger at me in on yourself. Sadness is more acute, more intense and is often about mourning.”

“I’m feeling both. I don’t want to be angry at you. It scares me. What if I’m angry at you and then you get Covid? I’d feel horrible, guilty. I wouldn’t want that to be the last thing you remembered of me. But I also feel this huge loss. I know, you’ll say I’m still mourning my mother, and maybe I am. But it’s also about you. I need you so much and it is so good to see you in person and it just feels like this huge emptiness, again.”

“I do understand, Laurie. It’s a loss for me too. It’s been wonderful seeing you in person, actually having you as a real, live person in my office. But it’s not forever, unlike with your mother.”

“I wish you wouldn’t keep bringing her up.”

“Because…?”

“Well, what first jumped in my head, is that it feels like you’re trying to pass the buck, trying to get me to talk about her rather than you.”

“That’s a really good point, Laurie. Maybe you’re right. Maybe I also was trying to move away from the sadness between us.”

“Really! Wow, I’m surprised. I’m surprised that you’d feel that and, truthfully, surprised that you’d admit it.”

I smile. “Therapy is a place I get to be truthful too, it’s a place I get to reflect on myself just as you do.”

Tears fall down Laurie’s cheeks. “You see, that’s why I love you so much, that’s why I miss you, you’re such an amazing special person. There’s no one in the whole world like you.”

“Remember how much you hated me at the beginning of the session? I’m neither a horrible, evil person nor a saintly one. I’m both. And it’s important that you try and hold onto both parts of me.”

“But now I have to say good-bye again and that makes me really, really sad.”

“Yes, it is sad, but we’ll talk to each other next week and we’ll both be very much real and alive.”


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