The Thin Line Between Grief and Depression

July 18th, 2011

Grief and Depression go hand in hand when it comes to losing a loved one. Losing a loved one affects not only our mind, but our body as well. Our mind and body work together and react to the loss as a threat. Grief is just the minds way of coping with the threat.

Thin Line Between Grief & Depression People who are grieving often become withdrawn from the world and although grief is a natural and healthy reaction, it can be become very serious and even threatening to your physical health. It can be hard to tell the difference between the depression that comes along with grief and clinic depression, but the more you know about the signs and symptoms, the easier it will be for you to understand and take action when needed.

Speaking to someone who is grieving can be emotional, and often times things can feel awkward. It is very important to be honest and supportive to someone in grief; to offer a listening ear and a helping hand. Acting natural and calm while letting them know how much you care for them, will help ease the pain. Encouraging them to talk about and express their emotions and feelings will help heal the wounds of grief.

A few things to be avoided when talking with someone in grief

  • Don’t avoid them
  • Don’t pry. If they don’t want to talk, don’t force it.
  • Don’t ask for details about the person’s death.
  • Don’t offer advice with quick solutions.
  • Don’t try to cheer up or distract them.
  • Don’t minimize their loss. (Example: “You will move on”, “He is in a better place.”, “You can always re-marry”. Even though these things might be true, it is not something the grieving person wants to hear.)

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Planting a Memorial Garden

June 26th, 2011

The purpose of a Memorial Garden is to keep memories of a loved on close by. It’s a tribute in honor and remembrance of someone you have lost.Creating a Memorial Garden

Setting aside a place in your backyard dedicated to your loved one’s memory, gives you a place that is relaxing, serene, and calming. A place to speak to your loved one in the privacy and comfort of your own home. A memorial garden is also a wonderful healing tool for children who are grieving the loss of a parent or sibling. Letting the child help create the memorial, including objects or flowers that are important to them can help ease the pain.

Starting Your Memorial Garden

Create a rock garden by outlining a quiet, secluded area of your yard with stones. Stones you can find in nature or buy from a nursery. Plant flowers or a small tree in the center. Adding decorative, solar lights to your memorial garden will keep the memory of your loved one shining bright.

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Coping with Grief

June 20th, 2011

Losing a loved one can be one of the most difficult experiences in our lives. The loss of a loved one can throw you into a place of uncertainty. Allowing the time to grieve, reminisce, reflect and accept will help heal your emotional state. We heal by taking time to focus on the loss, and how it will affect us.

Grief differs from one person to another, and is a normal response to loss. The journey from initial shock and disbelief, to acceptance and emotional stability takes time. The amount of time it actually takes depends on the person. The grieving period can last from several weeks, to months and possibly years.

What is Grief?

Grief, in its simplest terms, is a reaction to loss. It affects us spiritually, behaviorally, physically and cognitively. Our response is affected by our culture, religion, gender and circumstances surrounding the loss. Bereavement is the way we process grief.

When coping with grief you might feel:

  • Strong emotions, such as sadness, anger, helplessness and loneliness.
  • Funeral Director and Grieving CoupleNumbness, or a sense that the situation isn’t real.
  • Physical reactions, such as insomnia or waves of nausea.
  • Spiritual reactions to a death. Some people find themselves questioning their beliefs and feeling disappointed in religion, while others find that they feel more strongly than ever about their faith.
  • Separation from family members and friends.
  • A loss of interest in hobbies and melancholy.
  • Memory loss, shortened attention span or difficulty communicating with others.
  • Guilt.

Other physical symptoms related to grief are:

  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches, chest pain or high heart rate
  • Digestive problems
  • Hair loss
  • Night sweats

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Children & Grief: Coping With A Death

December 27th, 2010

Honesty is the Best Policy When Addressing Death with Children

The death of a loved one can be a painful experience for anyone, but for a child, it can be especially difficult. It’s important that adults provide an environment that promotes healing. The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) offers suggestions on how to help children cope with loss.

Father and Grieving ChildrenIt may be difficult to inform a child about the death of a loved one, but honesty is the best policy. Avoid using euphemisms, such as “Grandma is sleeping” or “Uncle John went on a long trip.” For young children, be straightforward and use simple phrases, such as “…the person’s body has stopped working and won’t work anymore.” For older children, more details may be appropriate.

Many often wonder whether children should attend funerals. Experts agree that it is healthy for children to attend the funerals of their loved ones. Prior to the funeral, parents should discuss with their child what will happen at the visitation, funeral or memorial service. Be honest and clear – children take things literally, so avoid being vague in your descriptions.

If a child feels comfortable, they may wish to play a role in the funeral service. Let them read a poem or letter, or sing or play a song during the service. Funeral directors can find ways for the child to participate in the service.

Just like adults, death is something a child will not just “get over.” In addition to having a confidant who provides continuous love and assurance, there are other ways adults can help children cope with grief.

Be a role model: Children often imitate what they see. They will look to their parents or other significant adults for cues about grieving. It’s important for children to know it’s okay to express their emotions following the death of a loved one.

More Tips For Helping Children Deal With Grief:

Find peer support: For many people, identifying with peers who are going through a similar experience can be uplifting. The camaraderie of a grief support group can be a powerful healing tool.

Incorporate ritual: Whether it’s lighting a candle, helping scatter cremated remains or taking part in an activity that was special to the deceased, rituals can help a child focus on the memory of their loved one.

Use the arts: It may be difficult for children to verbalize their feelings; the arts can be an outlet for expressing grief. Writing, painting, poetry, music and crafts can help children express what they are experiencing.

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Merry Griefmas! Working Through Grief During The Holidays

December 1st, 2010

The holidays are fast approaching. While Thanksgiving and Christmas for most are anticipated with joy and cheer, for some, it is dreaded. Their loved one has died and they just aren’t sure how everything is going to work this year, or if they even want it to work.

My father died suddenly the morning after Thanksgiving. The thought of Christmas was just mind numbing to say the least. I had young nieces and nephews so we knew we had to do something somewhat normal, even though there was nothing normal about it. Let me give you some advice about how we coped that Christmas.

CRY IF YOU NEED TOO! It is okay to let others know you are going through something so difficult and, by being free with your emotions, encourages your family that it is okay to openly grieve. The day will be tough, be upfront about that. You just might find out that they are experiencing some of the same feelings. Let them know that you don’t expect the perfect holiday. Just because you and your loved ones have always done the same thing for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it that way. Just do what you feel comfortable doing.

For example, we used to celebrate with both sets of my grandparents separately. We chose just to have one Christmas celebration at one house. It actually made it much easier on my mother and on everyone else. With that being said, keep the traditions that are most dear to your heart. You may experience some comfort and have fond memories. My family always goes to Mass on Christmas Eve. It is always a magical experience for me. And even though I was raw with emotion, I could feel my father’s spirit surrounding me at that service. However, if you don’t feel like you can attend services this year, then don’t.

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