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Thoughts on loss and self-care

Early in November of last year I received the news that one of our facilitators, Nick Luxmoore, died, aged 63. Whilst I only worked with Nick for one weekend in 2018, I felt affected at a level I was not expecting, which included sadness, shock and then anger and a deep sadness for his supervisees, friends and family but alongside these came a feeling of being an imposter – why should I have these depth of feelings when I’d only met him for two eight-hour days.
I tried, initially, fleetingly, to ignore my feelings and push them away due to embarrassment at their depth but then quickly remembered the healthiest way to experience them was to allow them and to acknowledge their depth, not to try and rationalise my experience but to allow my feelings including the embarrassment – I was affected and that’s ok, I think Nick was one of life’s good guys so, of course, I would feel sadness and shock.

I have been sitting with my feelings since November, processing both his loss to the Child and Adolescent Counselling world, his friends, family and myself as best I can. I can acknowledge that I was really looking forward to working with him late in November 2019. It felt surreal to cancel his events and I will miss my (limited) work with him and the potential that we may have worked together more perhaps in the future.

Of course, his death triggered the rise of many different, familiar thoughts within me about death which could link to my depth of feeling. As a therapist I would expect this but for the moment I have decided to stay with Nick’s death and his legacy.

From the end of November I have had ideas for a blog or two (or four) running around my brain, making themselves known (sometimes annoyingly!) but have not felt ready to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard until now. Every idea seemed valid and hopefully useful but I just wasn’t feeling it and this week I have realised why I have been experiencing a block.

The fear of blogging, mentioned previously in my first blog, seems to have abated (although at times it still seems ridiculous to write and wonder if someone, anyone, will read it) but I’ve realised I was wanting to write something about Nick but not feeling ready to do so. Perhaps I was concerned it be too much, too self-indulgent?

It seems right, though, to start 2020 writing about him.

I experienced Nick as funny, cheeky, knowledgeable, approachable and an expert in working therapeutically with Children and Young People. We had a great 2 days working together in 2018 and one of my abiding memories is of him signing a pile of my ‘Nick Luxmoore’ books. “Here Nick would you sign my huge pile of Nick Luxmoore Books”.

He disappeared to a corner of the room and wrote something different in each of the books and there was quite a few so it took him awhile! I wondered why it was taking him soooooooo long just to write his name but loved his personal touch when I discovered and read them all later that day. One even mentions the cakes we have at each workshop. These book dedications, now fill me with gratitude and make me laugh.

He commented that a few seemed brand new and not read and I had to admit to buying them especially for him to sign – he chuckled and enquired if they would be read. I turned red and said of course and of course they were.

His professional writing legacy is vast and I love what my colleague Mary Clair Kelly has told our Level 5 students about his book titled ‘Horny and Hormonal’ – she advises us to leave this book sitting around on a desk or table in our counselling rooms and then clock our adolescent clients clocking it and then wait and listen. Just the title and the fact we own the book seems to allow our adolescent clients to feel safer to bring their sex lives, phantasies, thoughts and feelings to our working relationship with them.

Of course, whilst I have been pondering Nick’s death, Christmas and New Year came and went and we are now firmly into the beginning of 2020 – hopefully with 2020 vision (Urggghhhh!) of what we would like this year to look like for us or at least an idea of where to start.

At New Year I really noticed all the chatter around me in the media and social media about this new decade, our divided society, our split and unfathomable world, confusion and uncertainty, resolutions and how to practice self-care at this time.

Whilst I don’t really see the point of New Year resolutions as I think they can set us up for failure and disappointment, I am a fan of ongoing self-care and have noticed that part of my self-care has not been to push the need to produce a blog but to allow it to happen organically when my self is ready.

I’m pleased to have started the year writing about Nick and will now, whilst using his book and article legacy (those books will be dog eared and falling apart by the time I have finished with them) and watching the tree I planted in his memory grow (a suggestion from his website and now forever called ‘Nick’),I am turning my attention to this year and what I would like to accomplish in this new decade professionally (or maybe just this first six months for starters!) and what I would like to change, achieve and experience (both professionally and personally). Nick achieved masses professionally and whilst I don’t think I have a book within me, I can strive to give the best of myself professionally and forge forward with new training ideas to support and train my fellow counsellors and try and live my best professional life, as I think he did.

It’s our 10th year of providing training for fellow counsellors so I’m hoping it will be a good one and that I will stop at the end of March and note the 10- year anniversary – maybe that’s a blog ……………….
I wish you all well for 2020 and look forward to hearing about how the year goes for you all.

Below are some of the replies I received from fellow counsellors to my email advising them of Nick’s death and the cancelling of our two hotly anticipated workshops.

If you are a C & YP Counsellor/Supervisor and haven’t discovered Nick’s books yet, I find them easy to read and digest and, of course, I highly recommend them.

‘Such shocking news, I connected with Nick over a shared love of rugby. Terribly sad’
‘I always recommend Nick’s books to supervisees to read when they are working with children and adolescents especially in schools and of course will continue to do so. I’m sure his wisdom will be missed by many and is a great loss to the profession’
‘So sad, he had so much more to give to life I imagine both professionally and personally. I only met him for two days last year but instantly liked him. I have all his books and will use them until they fall apart!’
‘I am shocked and very sad to hear of the loss of lovely Nick. He made a great impression on me. I will remember his warmth, knowledge and passion for his work’
‘What amazing work Nick did and legacy he leaves. I was so looking forward to seeing him again and absorbing all his brilliance’
‘I feel privileged to have met him at your workshops last year’
‘What a lovely, kind and thoughtful man he was. He will be so missed by so many people’

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