My husband and I sit in the car in the cemetery parking lot.

We are about to visit a grave we’ve never been to before. Today is a day when grief and hope come in waves.

But first, I take a breath and dial the phone.When Grief and Hope Come in Waves|The Holy Mess

A Divide in the Therapy Road

All weeks, I’ve been praying please God, help us make the right decision.

I’ve been on the hunt for an attachment therapist. A real attachment therapist.

Our kids have been in therapy for years, but there is a huge difference between typical talk therapy and a therapist who gets it. We have got to have it or these kids are not going to make it.

Some of the differences:

  • Attachment is about the child-parent bond. The parents have to be in the room for the therapy. Otherwise the child will triangulate.
  • Typical therapy allows the child to lead. In this type of attachment therapy the therapist has to take control. These children are controlling and manipulative. If you allow the child to control, you become another pawn in their game. Plus you increase their internal fears and they become more sick.
  • This therapy is intense. This is not sitting on the couch once a week or once every two weeks for an hour. We are going to have dig in and hit it hard, especially in the beginning.
  • After years of working with traumatized kids, my internal parent monitor knows it when I see it.
  • Most therapists are too nice and there’s too much B.S.

Therapy is a careful blend between when to push and when to have compassion.

I’m not a therapist, but I’m sure every therapist is constantly walking that line. I prefer the no-B.S. approach. I don’t have time for a lot of chit-chat. We can sit and talk for hours, but if it’s not working, what is the point? Maybe it makes me feel good for an hour, but if it’s not making life changes it’s pointless.

I don’t need an hour of feel good. I can watch TV for that.

My experience with finding a therapist who helped me lose 100 lbs is helpful in finding what I need for my kids, although I realize they need a different approach — but I’m not sure it’s all that much different.

An Attachment Therapist

After our son’s hospitalization, I talk with a therapist I find through recommendations on the Nancy Thomas website, named Aaron. As soon as I talk to him on the phone, I know this is who we want for our family’s therapy — if we can get him.

Aaron uses an intense therapy method so he doesn’t take a lot of kids and has a waiting list. He can’t see our son right away. We will have to wait. A couple months isn’t that long, but when we are living in crisis mode, it feels like forever.

I need help and I need it yesterday.

Aaron talks to me for about 45 minutes about the methods he uses. He has worked with some of the toughest, most violent teens.

The longer he talks, the more I know that he could potentially be the one to help us save our boy. He talks fast and passionately about what he believes. His method is no one theory but a combination of them all, along with his own instincts from years of working with these kids. Also wonderful, Aaron is a Christian too.

I call Mike and say, “We have to get this guy.”

Meanwhile, my son continues his downward spiral during the two month wait. We keep in touch with Aaron.

We are getting pretty freaked out by our son’s aggressive behavior. He punched a kid in the face while inpatient at the hospital and was placed in isolation.

Since being home, he is agitated, sullen, and one step away from going back in the hospital again.

In an ironic twist, Medicaid approved 30-days of day treatment for our son, and he started the program just the week before.

I had concerns about what he would be exposed to in day treatment, but it’s going amazingly well. There are only a few kids in the class. Our son has daily therapy, including animal therapy. There is art therapy and a swimming pool on the grounds.

He is calmer.

We are all calmer. We take a breath.

But if we work with Aaron, it will come to an end.

Insurance will not approve day treatment and Aaron’s therapy.

We have to make a choice.

Can one person provide the level of care of a whole treatment center?

Could we handle my son at home all day again?

Please God, I hope we are making the right decision.

When Hope Comes

In the car at the cemetery parking lot, the phone lies in my lap, ringing.

Mike has not talked to Aaron yet. We have to make a decision today.

We call Aaron.

Aaron tells us straight up, “Look, kids don’t get well in treatment centers. If you send him to a treatment center, he’s going to keep cycling the system. If you want him to get well, I’ll work with him. You need to make a decision.”

Aaron tells us he will do whatever it takes to work with our son’s aggression. He says he is not scared of violence.

Aaron tells us about how last week one of his teen clients went into a rage, climbed out his bedroom window onto the roof, and Aaron went out after him. Then they went in and talked his stuff through. He said another client held a knife to his throat, and he talked the kid into calming down.

This is how Aaron works.

Mike and I looked at each other over the phone and our eyes connect. “We have to get this guy,” we both mouthed at the same time, pointing at the phone.

When Grief and Hope Come in Waves

After hanging up with Aaron, we stopped at the cemetery office to ask for the location of the plot we were seeking. We drive the winding roads, and then Mike and I get out and walk for quite some time to find it.

With Mike being a pastor, cemeteries and death are part of our norm. We don’t get freaked out about death.

But still.

It is possible to grieve for someone you have never known, and to ache for someone who should be with you.

We find the plot. I watch my husband kneel down and gently brush off the grass clippings from a recent mowing. We stare at the name etched in the stone.

Our son that we adopted was a twin, and this is the grave of his brother.

It is an eerie feeling to know our son is strong and growing fast, while his brother’s body is a tiny baby under the stone, never to be different.

The location is quiet, despite being in the middle of a busy city. There is a majestic view of the mountains and the sweeping prairie grasses around.

When our son is ready, we will bring him here.Since we have Jesus, let us hold fast to our confession. Hebrews 4:14

Still Standing

Still Standing|The Holy Mess

Bible Verse

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

Hebrews 4:14

Journal Prompt

Are you facing a tough decision in your life currently? Talk to God about it and ask for His guidance.


When Love is Not Enough

My Feelings Workbook

When Grief and Hope Come in Waves|The Holy Mess

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