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.
People who are grieving often become withdrawn from the world and although grief is a natural and healthy reaction, it can be become very serious and even threatening to your physical health.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.)
Things you should do to help someone who is grieving
- Be encouraging.
- Offer help around the house, or with tasks that they are responsible for.
- Let them talk and talk and talk.
- Let them cry.
- Cry with them.
- Offer your prayers.
- Be available — in person or on the phone.
- Tell them how much you love them.
- Don’t forget about them. Especially after the funeral is over and the attention has dissipated. Continue to offer support and love.
The Stages of Grief
- Initial shock or denial
- Severe anguish lasting weeks to months
- A phase of acceptance and resolution
Warning Signs of Depression
- Inability to act socially
- Prolonged hallucinations
- Laying in bed all day
- Constantly speaking low and slow
- No interest in hobbies
- Dramatic weight loss or gain
- Poor personal hygiene
- Use of drugs or alcohol to cope
- Lack of appetite
- Suicidal thoughts
Depressed people often focus more on themselves then what was lost. Grieving people focus more on what was lost then on themselves. A depressed person will show little fluctuation in their mood, and express a deep sense of emptiness and loneliness. A grieving person will have moments of happiness and lighter feelings during the grief process.
Depression is normal during the grieving process, what differs between a grieving depression and clinical depression is the how long it goes on. If someone is extremely depressed after 6 months of the death, they are at high risk of clinical depression and should seek medical attention.
Treatments for clinical depression may include antidepressants. These will treat depression, but cannot take away the underlying grief, which is why grief counseling is often necessary. Counseling will help walk someone through the steps of emotional instability.
Each person is different, and the timeline for their grief has no limits. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Just remember to be open, natural, supportive and comforting to the person in grief. Your help and support is a necessary part in the process of healing. Your thoughtfulness and support will never be forgotten.