Managing grief and depression after the loss of a loved one

by | Feb 15, 2012

The unthinkable has happened. A loved one has passed away. Grief and depression have entered your life and you don’t know what to do. Everyone has to cope with this scenario at some point in his or her life and it doesn’t matter what age you are, it doesn’t get any easier to cope with. We live in a culture that is uncomfortable talking about death; even the title of this article refers to a ?loss? rather than a ?death.? The death of a loved one can make you feel isolated, as if no one else understands. Friends are reluctant to approach you and are unwilling to upset you. They are also worried about saying the wrong thing. Grief is a difficult companion to live with.

What are the five stages of grief?
First there is denial, ?This can’t be happening to me.? ?It’s not true.? This is soon followed by anger, ?Why me, it’s not fair??, ?Who is to blame?? There are misplaced feelings of rage and envy and you are difficult to approach as everyone else is ?lucky,? since they haven’t lost someone. The third stage is bargaining and the fourth is depression, ?I miss them so much, what is the point of going on? My life is worthless without them.? And finally, after time, there is acceptance. But how do you reach this point of acceptance? It seems a betrayal to your loved one to even contemplate such a thing. But there are things you can do.

Seven ways to manage your grief

  1. Don’t keep your feelings bottled up. Find someone you can trust who you can talk to
  2. Be willing to listen to others who have experienced a loss of their own. Their coping mechanisms may help you.
  3. Focus on happy memories of your loved one each time you feel the sadness of their passing. Switching the negative thoughts associated with their death into positive ones will help you with the grieving process
  4. You are allowed to cry. Allow yourself to show emotion, to express the pain you are feeling. It is a normal response and will prove cathartic.
  5. Establish new routines. This is hard as you will not want to let go of the routines that you shared with your loved one. But try. New routines will help to ?
  6. Take the time to be with yourself for at least 15 minutes of each day. Give yourself some breathing space, don’t fill every second of every day with activity so that you don’t think. That is just another way of bottling up emotion.
  7. Look for ways to help others. Putting other people first is a powerful way to create positive emotions and to make something good out of your loss.

And remember, although it is a click, time really does heal. The final stage of grief, acceptance, comes with a peace that you won’t have felt since you first suffered your loss. It doesn’t mean that your loss no longer means anything, just that the grieving process has run its course and you can remember your loved one with happiness; a happiness still tinged with sadness, but not with depression.

Nancy Travers is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She specializes in all types of relationships; We all want them, We all need them; How to get em and Keep them. Nancy’s office is located at 1600 Dove Street, Suite 260, Newport Beach, CA 92660.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 949-510- 9423 or contact us.
copyright a division of Counseling Corner, Inc.
As seen in The Blade magazine June 2005.


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