- Coping with grief
Coping with grief
Many people compare their grief to waves rolling onto a beach. Sometimes those waves are calm and gentle, and sometimes they are so big and powerful that they knock you off your feet completely. Sometimes, the wave of grief can be so powerful that it leads to:
- Not wanting or feeling able to get out of bed.
- Neglecting yourself - not taking care of your hygiene or appearance.
- Not eating properly.
- The feeling that you can't carry on living without the person you've lost.
- Not feeling able to go to work.
- Taking your feelings out on other people.
All of these reactions are normal parts of bereavement - unless they go on for a very long time. If you feel like you are no longer coping with grief very well, you may need some extra help from a bereavement counsellor. Specific reasons for needing professional support include the following:
- You are beginning to drink a lot.
- You are tempted to or starting to take illegal drugs.
- You are having suicidal thoughts.
- You are acting recklessly.
- You are starting to behave violently.
Counsellor Graeme Orr shares five ways to help with bereavement and grief.
How to tell if grief has become depression
Unlike depression, grief is not considered a mental health condition. Sorrow, anger, confusion and emptiness are all natural reactions to death. However, when these low feelings last for a very long time, it may be worth seeking additional support. Of course, there is no 'normal' length of time for bereavement.
Loss stays under the surface of our lives and continues to permeate long after it first happened. Sometimes all it takes is a certain date, a place, or a song, for all of that grief to come surging back.
So how do you know if grief has become depression? Grief and depression share a number of symptoms, including sadness, insomnia and change in eating habits.
One of the main differences between grief and depression however, is that grief comes in waves while depression is like a cloud that hangs over everything. Sometimes, a grieving person is able to forget their sadness for certain lengths of time - perhaps when concentrating on something, perhaps when surrounded by people who make them feel happy. Grief is often triggered by something - a smell, a sudden memory - while depression is pervasive, cutting through everything.
Signs that grief has turned into depression include:
- feelings of guilt unrelated to your recent loss
- a feeling that you are worthless
- feeling sluggish, drained and confused
- difficulty carrying out everyday tasks
If you think you, or someone close to you, is suffering from depression, then it is important to find support as soon as possible.