Growing Beyond Grief and Loss
Grief is a natural part of life, and a typical reaction not only to the death of a loved one or friend, but to divorce, job loss, a move away from family and friends, loss of good health due to illness, or trauma from other events. No matter the cause, it’s important to remember that grief is the normal response of sorrow, emotion, and confusion that comes from losing someone or something important to you.
Is Grief the Same As Depression?
Not exactly. Depression is more than a feeling of grief after losing someone or something you love. Clinical depression is a whole body disorder. It can take over the way you think and feel.
What Are Signs That It Is Depression and Not Grief?
Depression typically has the following warning signs:
- A sad, anxious, or "empty" mood that won't go away
- Loss of interest in what you used to enjoy
- Low energy, fatigue, feeling "slowed down"
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Loss of appetite, weight loss, or weight gain
- Trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Feeling hopeless or gloomy
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
- Thoughts of death or suicide or a suicide attempt
- Recurring aches and pains that don't respond to treatment
How Long Does the Grieving Process Last?
Grief lasts as long as it takes you to accept and learn to live with your loss. For some, it lasts a few months; for others, a few years. The length of grieving is different for each person. Reasons for the differences include personality, health, coping style, culture, family background, and life experiences. It also depends on your relationship with the person lost and how prepared you were for the loss.
Do’s and Don’ts When Dealing With Grief and Loss
- Talk to others who have experienced loss. Speak of the meaning of the loss to you, the ways in which you will miss the deceased.
- Stay with a routine or schedule, even if you feel you are just going through the motions.
- Recognize the feelings for what they are rather than why they are. Knowing what the feeling is can help you deal with it.
- Be forgiving and patient with yourself. It’s all right to make mistakes or lose your concentration during this time.
- Be good to yourself. Take the rest you need, the walk you enjoy, the gift you would like.
- Make major life decisions too quickly.
- Try to numb your pain with drugs.
- Deny your feelings.
- Isolate yourself from others who can offer support and understanding.
- Expect every day to get better. Accept that the grieving process consists of ups and downs.