Grief: A Deep Sense of Loss
When my father died many years ago now, the grief was overwhelming. I would cry at every mention of his name, or seeing any picture of him. At night time I was sure he was sitting on a chair in my bedroom, trying to comfort me. I had a rocking chair in one corner of the room and I could swear my dad would sit there many nights after he died even though he never sat there while he was alive.
I struggled to come to terms with the loss of my dad. He was only 53 years old when he died after his third heart attack. My hubby and I had had our third child just 3 months before. He was an amazing dad and we all loved him dearly. Life would never be the same without him. The doctor who visited our home to sign the death certificate and as he left callously announced he would leave the family to fight over their inheritance. .There was no inheritance, our dad was a very generous man and gave away everything he had, keeping just enough to keep us well clothed and fed and to cover basic bills.
I had never experienced grief like this before . It hung over me like a heavy black cloud for a good 12 months . or more. For me the best therapy was again the 3 T’s I mentioned earlier. Talk, Time and Tears. I would talk about my memories of dad as often as I could to whoever would listen. I never went back to his grave because in my heart and mind he is not there. He is in the spiritual realm enjoying everlasting peace and good health. There were many nights I would cry myself to sleep but as time passed I gradually accepted my fathers’ death and began to move on.
This was not depression but grief. A deep sense of loss and longing for someone who I loved dearly.
Grief can manifest like depression but it is a normal process most of us will go through at some stage in our lives and everyone will face it differently. We all have different coping strategies and different ways of dealing with grief.
Losing someone very near and dear can be a life changing experience which can in some instances see the grieving person thrown into a deep dark hole. That is when the lines between grief and depression get very blurred.
Depression Following the Death of a Loved One
You need to seek help if you begin to experience any of the following symptoms.
- Wishing that you had died along with the person you loved so much.
- Struggling to function normally and not being able to complete everyday tasks
- Blaming yourself for the death of the loved one.
- Feeling like there is no purpose in life for you and you no longer want to be here
- Withdrawing from all social activities and becoming a bit of a recluse
- With modern medicine people are often able to continue living for a longer period of time after the diagnosis of a terminal illness. This means they can prepare by ensuring everything is in order and also everyone involved has time to prepare emotionally for the inevitable death. Many hospitals now offer a palliative care program to help the person who is ill prepare for their own passing as well as prepare the family members for the final day. It does not mean they will not grieve afterwards as grieving is a very normal process for all of us after losing someone close to us. But the impact will be less severe and a return to normality will usually be much smoother and faster.
Feeling Sad all of the Time. Being Depressed.
However some people may slip into a critical depression and fail to come to terms with the loss. They will show many or all of the symptoms listed above. These ones are at much greater risk because they have gone beyond the normal grieving process into a state of deep depression and would be wise to get some help.
Grief and depression are similar to begin with, but they diverge over time. Grief can wax and wane, depression will hang around.. It is a concern when the bereaved person displays negative or even suicidal thoughts much of the time, they may lose weight, be unable to perform everyday activities or chores and withdraw from social interaction. If you are that person following a death or know someone else who is showing more prolonged symptoms then it is probably time to seek some professional help.
Some Coping Strategies for Dealing With Grief and Depression
The Three T’s
Talk as much as you want to , reminisce about the loved one and recall some good memories. It may bore your listener but it will be good for you.
Time Allow yourself time to grieve, as much time as it takes. Some people go back to work too soon then fall in a heap down the track. It is a very normal process and you need to be gentle with yourself as you face the loss.
Tears It si OK to cry, no matter what age you are or what sex you are . Tears bring relief, its like a pressure valve. Let it all out, let it go and soon you will be feeling much better.
Get plenty of rest and eat well.
Spend time with friends and family.
Visit places which hold special memories and enjoy them again
Listen to favorite music
Take regular walks along the beach or through the park.
Plant a garden or a special tree in their memory.