Dealing With Grief And Loss Related Depression
Loss is an unfortunate part of life, with grief being our natural response. Grief is the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. Often, the pain of loss can feel overwhelming. This is most severe when the loss is what is classified as “inappropriate and unexpected.”
Shock, anger, disbelief, and guilt are all emotions you may experience during this time. For some, the pain from grief can also affect your physical health, leaving you with difficulty sleeping, eating, or even thinking straight, these are all normal reactions to grief. Depression and severe sadness is a normal response to the death of a loved one. Most people will get through the grief process and be able to move on with their lives. Coping with the loss of someone or something you love is one of life’s biggest challenges. You may associate grieving with the death of a loved one—which is often the cause of the most intense type of grief—but any loss can cause grief, including:
Grief can be associated with other types of loss too such as:
- Divorce or relationship breakup
- Loss of health
- Losing a job
- Loss of financial stability
- Death of a family member or friend
- Death of a pet
- Loss of a cherished dream
- A loved one’s serious illness
- Loss of a friendship
- Loss of safety after a trauma
- Selling the family home
There Is No Right Way To Grieve
Everyone goes through grief in his or her own way and there is no set formula: everyone is different and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Neither is there a correct amount of time for the grieving process to take place. Some people may be in mourning for years while others may feel able to move on after weeks or months.
The more intimate the relationship, the more intense the sense of loss. It is important to be kind to yourself and patient with yourself as you go through the grieving process. You will have good days and bad days, days when you can enjoy yourself, and other days when the feelings of sorrow are overwhelming.
The Five Stages Of Grief
Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross defined the five stages of grief from her experience working with the dying. While based upon her years of observations, this is not set in stone, and the five stages may be experienced in any order, they are:
A person may not experience all the stages, and may even not experience any of them. Each person is unique and their grief is as unique as they are.
Myth vs. Fact About Grief
- Myth: The pain will ease quicker if you ignore it.
- Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will make it worse in the long run. For real healing, it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.
- Myth: It’s necessary to “be strong” when facing loss.
- Fact: Feeling unhappy, frightened, or deserted could be a natural reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you’re weak. You don’t have to be compelled to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings will help them and you.
- Myth: If you don’t cry, it means that you aren’t sorry concerning the loss.
- Fact: Crying could be a traditional response to disappointment, however, it’s not the sole one. Those that don’t cry might feel the pain even as deeply as others. They will merely produce other ways of showing it.
- Myth: Bereavement ought to last at least a year.
- Fact: There’s no specific timeframe for bereavement. However long it takes differs from person to person.
- Myth: Moving on with your life means forgetting your loss.
- Fact: Moving on means you’ve accepted your loss—but that’s not the same as forgetting. You can move on with your life and keep the memory of someone or something you lost as an important part of you. In fact, as we move through life, these memories can become more and more integral to defining the people we are.
Ways To Deal With Grief Related Depression
If you find your feelings of emptiness and despair will not go away, and your better days are few and far between, you may be experiencing grief-related depression.
According to Kubler-Ross, depression is a normal part of the grieving process. Yet, remember the importance of taking care of yourself. Here are some tips you can do for self-care at this difficult time:
- Talk to friends and family about what you are going through. Talk about your loved one and your memories of them.
- Find creative ways to express your emotions. A scrapbook can be a memorable way to work through your feelings whilst processing your loss.
- Allow yourself to feel all your feelings
- Be patient with yourself
- Let yourself cry
- Exercise and eat well
- Treat yourself to a massage
- Forgive yourself
- Join a grief support group: being with others who know what you are going through can be beneficial
- See a counselor or doctor if you are thinking of suicide or feel that life isn’t worth living
- If you have a plan to take your life you need help right away
Remember that depression is a normal part of the grieving process but if it persists, do not let it linger without seeking support. If you find you can’t shake off the feelings of emptiness, worthlessness, and hopelessness, that your better days have all but disappeared, or you feel that life is no longer worth living, then you need to take steps to get the help that you need. Take care of yourself and reach out when you need to.
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