MY GRIEF STORY
When I was a little girl I dreamed of the day that I would have a
family of my own and become a mom...babies to love and love me back.
My dream came to fruition on October 1st,1995, when I had my first
child Reid Landry Garrant. He was my world. On May 8th,1997, I had my
little girl, (Taylor Margaret Garrant)...and Reid had a baby sister.
My world got bigger by one and I was the happiest mama on the planet.
I was fortunate enough at the time to be able to stay home with my
children and spend all the time I wanted to with them, raising them,
playing with them, teaching them and loving on them. They started
school and with that came lots of activities to keep them busy. I
lived in hockey rinks, dancing schools, football fields, basketball
courts, soccer & lacrosse fields, cheerleading competitions, and
concert band recitals. The days were often long, but the rewards were
great! I got to see my children laugh and smile with the activities
they did. I got to see them interact as siblings who were truly each
other's best friends. I got to see them form friendships that have
lasted and are still going strong. During this time, I completed both
my Bachelor's in Social Psychology and my Master's in Social Work so I
could embark on my career once the kids were older. I was fortunate in
my training throughout graduate school to have worked in well sought
The year prior to my graduation, I was accepted into an extremely competitive program at the Dana Farber Cancer Institutes’ "Jimmy Fund Clinic". It is known all over the world for its unparalleled care of children with cancer. I trained there for one full year and in that time watched many children be cured from cancer but also witnessed many of these precious children die. The training there and at future jobs set me up with an incredible future as a clinical social worker. I knew that my passion was in the field of trauma and crisis i.e. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, suicide, sexual assault/rape, terminal cancer, and death of a loved one. It has been an incredibly rewarding career helping other families navigate some of the most devastating situations and events their lives have ever seen.
The best part of it all, was that my two beautiful children got to see the blood, sweat and tears of my schooling, training and career. They got to see me open my solo private practice back in 2015, which has been thriving ever since. I honestly felt like I was on top of the world. Of course, like with any human being, there are ups and downs, good times and heartache, incredible moments and complete despair. I lost my own mother (Marion) on Mother's Day back in 2013 and only eight months later lost my father (John) and 5 days later after my father lost my Uncle/Godfather (Paul) to ALS. I didn't understand why everyone had to die all at once. I was sad and angry at the same time. Sure, I had experienced death and had been to numerous wakes, funerals of many different faiths and cultures. They had never hit home before. I longed for my
family to come back to me. I needed to know more about them...why did I not ask them more about their past lives while they were alive?, Why didn't I spend more time with them? I felt horrible that my children lost two of their four grandparents. I wanted to crawl under my blankets and never come out. I missed hearing their voices, asking my mom about recipes, telling my dad about my career, and talking Boston Bruins Hockey with my uncle. It was gone...forever. Time and life keep going forward with or without you...and in the culture we live in, you are allowed 3 days off for bereavement of a close family member, unless you decide to take vacation time.
I felt a bit lost in the world and felt like an orphan. Over time however, the fog began to lift and I "forged" ahead in life again...wrapping myself up in the love of my children, family & friends. Life went on.
A few short years later, I would come to learn a new grief...a different grief, the cruelest grief there is and that is the loss of your child. My son Reid, our "Gentle Giant", was 22 years old when he died from a rare and aggressive form of Leukemia/Blood Cancer-Acute Promyelocytic Myeloid Leukemia or APML/APL. I never saw this coming, none of us did...not even Reid. He was my world, my baby, my heart...I share his story open and honestly with all who will listen. I do this to honor my son and keep his name alive forever, but I also do it to create Leukemia Awareness and to help other bereaved parents, grandparents, families and friends who are crumbling over the untimely death of a child or in some cases children. Reid's full story can be viewed on his Foundation (Reid Landry Garrant Foundation)
website: www.reidsrebels.com or on his Facebook Foundation page:
https://www.facebook.com/reidsrebels or on Twitter:
In the world of a clinical social worker we are taught early on in our training that you share pieces of yourself, only when it is clinically indicated to do so. It wasn't until after Reid died and I trained (Certificate in Traumatic Grief) with Dr. Joanna Cacciatore (world renowned grief expert, bereaved mom herself, and author of the best-selling book, "Bearing the Unbearable, Love, Loss and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief”) in Sedona, Arizona and learned that when working "as a bereaved mom" and with "bereaved parents", that sharing your own grief story, was not only ethical, but imperative. I would like to add that there are many clinicians in the field who do incredible work in the grief world, and have not lost a child, or even had a child. What I am able to bring to the table as a Traumatic Grief Clinician is that I can both speak from the point of view of a bereaved mother as well from the clinical point of view from 20+ years in the field. Each client I help, is another way that I honor my Reid.
If you or someone you know has currently experienced the death of their child or children, please contact me through my office phone: 978-504-0844, or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to have a phone consult to learn more about how therapy can help you continue to survive with this unbearable loss of your child.
Thank you for reading my own grief story today, xoxo
Paula Garrant, MSW, LICSW