Grieving is normal, depression is abnormal.

For the month of April I am participating in the annual A-Z Blogging Challenge. The Challenge was started by author/blogger, Arlee Byrd. http://tossingitout.blogspot.com

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Each day of the month (except Sundays) we will post something based on that days correlating letter. Some of us chose a theme and others are winging it. My theme is the A-to-Z’s of Mental Health, Raising Awareness. It is a topic that is very close to my heart. I hope you find the posts interesting and you will comment and share the posts everywhere. To see a list of all of the participants or for more information-click on the badge over there to the right>

Today’s Letter is G

GRIEF

Unfortunately grief is something I know too much about.  I lost my father suddenly in January. Two weeks later I lost a friend. In February I lost one of my closest friends after a seventeen-month battle with cancer.

In 1969 psychiatrist, Elizabeth Kubler Ross wrote one of the most influential books in the history of psychiatry. The book, On Death and Dying, exposed the heartless treatment of terminally ill patients that was the norm at the time.

In her book, Dr. Ross introduces us to the five-stages of grief:

Denial

Anger

Bargaining

Depression

Acceptance

 

She explains that everybody handles loss differently. There is no progression of the stages and they are not in any particular order. There is also no time schedule on getting through these stages. There is no right or wrong way.

A-Z Grief Photo

 We all want to have control of our emotions at all times but when it comes to grief that is not possible. The best way for me to describe it would be when I am having an okay day and suddenly I stub my toe on the leg of the dining room table. I scream, I feel stupid for not paying attention, I feel angry and want to punch somebody because it hurts so badly, I cry. Once the pain subsides I go about my day this time a bit more cautiously. This is what grief feels like to me and I never know when that pain is going to consume me.

Grief is the normal reaction to the loss of a loved one but it is also normal for any type of loss such as a home, a relationship, your health or a loved one’s health. Grievers are not clinically depressed. Clinical depression is an abnormal state.  The line between grief and clinical depression is becoming more and more blurred.

 Drug companies have an interest in labeling grief as clinical depression and they market anti-depressants that way.

 It is normal when you are grieving to have a lower level of energy, to be sad and to have difficulty focusing. You may be overwhelmed with feelings of unreality-it takes time for the shock to wear off. You may be searching for meaning and dealing with the ‘what ifs.’

 You will never get over the loss but you will get through it. It never gets better it gets different. The feelings of intense sadness will become less intense but can sneak up on you when you hear a song or when it rains.

 When my younger brother, David was murdered in a random road rage attack I struggled with everything, one being identity. I always had three brothers and one sister. There were five kids in our family. I had four siblings. These were all the automatic answers when I was asked a ‘normal’ question. Now what was I supposed to say? When your spouse passes away suddenly you are a widower. When you lose a child you may suddenly no longer be a parent. It took me awhile to come up with a ‘normal’ new response, one I was comfortable with.

A-Z Grief Photo Clouds

 While you are grieving it is important to find someone you trust, someone who will listen to you (without talking.)

 It helps to have some sort of symbolic gesture. For David, we planted a tree. You could release balloons, light candles. Write a letter and mail it, journal, or create a blanket from your loved one’s clothing.

 Eating and sleeping properly will be extremely difficult but you must.  Grief can cause physical symptoms. You may experience stomach pain, back pain, migraines or a sore throat. If you do not take care of yourself these symptoms can become chronic.

 If you or someone you know is hurting deeply and does not seem to be processing their grief encourage and support them in getting professional help.

Doreen

 I would love to see you here too…

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18 Responses to “Grieving is normal, depression is abnormal.”

  • Having been in both the grief and depression camp, I appreciate your post on the differentiation. Neither is easy to carry. I just want to throw out a reminder to people that everyone does grieve differently they also grieve over different things. There is grief in the loss of a parent, a sibling, a child, a friend. There is grief in the loss of a pet also. So often in my line of work, I hear people tell others that are grieving “It was only a dog. You can get a new one.” (or other such statements) This is devastating to a person that has connected to that pet, sometimes connecting more to that animal than they have to any person that they have ever met.

    When dealing with someone else that is grieving, just be there. Support when needed, from a distance when needed. But always be there.

  • After my father-in-law died suddenly, my mother-in-law felt isolated in her grief. I could tell she felt that none of us could understand. She was probably right. We missed him too, but we could not feel the depth of her loss. She finally found a widow’s support group. The organization that sponsored it, always placed people in groups of other women who had lost their spouses at approximately the same time. This seemed to be important. She made life-long friends in this group.

  • I’m sorry for the losses you’ve experienced. Grief can be so hard to deal with, especially when people are experiencing it together because everyone works through it differently. Then you start to resent the people who are having an easier time with it and wondering what’s wrong with you. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Nita:

    No words seem adequate to express how sorry I am that you have suffered so many losses. Thank you for this very well written post. Peace be with you.

  • This is an exceptional post. I’m sorry for all the losses you’ve suffered, but I’m pleased you wrote this – I’m sure it will help someone who needs it. Grief is so complicated, and as you said, it can be triggered again by almost anything.

  • I am sorry that you have direct experience in managing grief. That is a hard path to walk. Peace and comfort to you. It’s very kind of you to share your experience. It might help others. I am teaching a class on death & dying for my local university, and many of my students are — sadly — well acquainted with grief. Hugs to all those who are bereaved.

  • Hi there. I am sorry for your losses. I like the way you put it, you never get over it, it just gets different. I was going to compare grief and depression for my “G” post but it wasn’t coming out right. Thank you for saying it for me. Grief and depression are both horrible, but they are not the same.

  • I know exactly what you mean. I lost my brother four years ago in a freak road accident. I was confused whenever anyone even brought up his name in a conversation. From looking at spending a lifetime knowing your sibling, I was left all too sudden and all too alone. It took me all these years to finally get over it and let go.

  • Hi, Doreen. It’s lovely to meet you through to A to Z. First let me say how sorry I am for your losses. I lost my father last year, and know how you are feeling. Grief is an emotion so difficult to put into words. I can be fine one minute and the lose it the next, often because of something insignificant. I spend a lot of time pretending I’m okay because I don’t want to burden other people. Thankfully, I do have the one special person who I can offload to. Having someone to talk to makes all the difference.

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