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Before your life ends, leave some final thoughts behind, a lasting goodbye

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Holiday Grief: Rememberig Deceased Loved Ones During the Holidays

Remembering Loved Ones During the Holidays

Posted by  on Dec 17, 2012 in BlogRemembering Loved OnesSpecial Days | 3 Comments

There is no way around it, after someone important dies the holidays are often never the same again. Traditions, events, parties, songs, movies – everything triggers a memory of the person you’ve lost. Avoidance and denial are popular tactics, but we suggest taking a different route. Try keeping your loved one’s memory alive and continue to make them a part of your holiday season. Here are 19 practical suggestions that may work for you and your family…

1. Photos: Display old photo albums in a location accessible to holiday visitors. People can’t resist a well placed photo album. Before you know it you’ll be reminiscing and telling stories with family and friends. Are all of your photos digital? Make an album featuring your loved one. Shutterfly andSnapfish have great deals on photo products this time of year. After you receive your album you may choose to keep it private or to share it with others who might appreciate the photos.

holiday grief

holiday grief

2. Get out the old home videos. Yes, you may get emotional, but it can also be comforting to see your loved one up on-screen. Again, it’s a great opportunity for story telling and reminiscing. If your anything like me you may also end up in stitches over the ridiculous outfit you wore to Thanksgiving in ’01.

3. After a loss it can be hard to part with your loved ones belongings. The holidays present the perfect opportunity to give away some of these things, especially if you are someone who always wants to make sure that old treasures go to good homes. Wrap up some of your loved one’s old things and give them to family and friends who will appreciate and use them. Write a card letting the recipient of the gift know why you chose to give them this particular item. I guarantee you they will adore the gift and the sentiment.

4. Choose a special place for people to write down memories. Leave a marker and paper or even plain wooden ornaments lying around. Friends and family can hang the ornaments or leave the memories in an old stocking or empty gift box. When everyone is gathered together, read the memories aloud.

5. Donate to a cause in your loved ones name. Try to choose a charity your loved one would have supported. During the holidays churches and places of worship, local food pantries, homeless shelters, soldiers and their families, nursing homes, and ‘Toys for Tots’ are all very active.

6. When you see a gift your loved one would have liked, go ahead and buy it. Donate it to a charity or give it to someone as gift.

7. It may be too difficult to send out the annual family holiday cards. Don’t feel guilty. Instead take an hour to write a few cards for the military and send them through the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes project.

8. Volunteer your time to others in need. You might choose a cause your loved one worked with or supported. If your feeling lonely you might want to try a retirement home where you can sit and talk to those you are helping.

9. Light a candle in honor of your loved one. Leave it burning during days when you think you’ll miss them the most.

10. Donate your loved ones old coats to onewarmcoat.org

11. Set a place for your loved one at the dinner table. Would it be too hard to see the seat left empty? Invite someone from your loved ones past to dinner.

12. Invite your family and friends to a holiday potluck. Ask your guests to make dishes that your loved one liked.

13. Buy or make a memorial ornament.

14. Use your loved one’s old recipe to make holiday cookies or holiday dinner.

15. Send a holiday card to someone from your loved ones past who they may have lost touch with.

16. Visit or spend time in a place where you feel close to your loved one. You could also spend time watching their favorite holiday movies or listening to their favorite holiday songs.

17. Take the trip you have been planning or dreaming about.

18. Give a framed photo of your loved one to people who also miss them.

19. Take care of yourself. Attend a workshop or support group for people dealing with a loss during the holidays. Remember that your loved one would have wanted you to have the support you need.

Filed under death loss remembering holidays grief sadness

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CONFESSIONS OF A FUNERAL DIRECTOR » Can Grief Hide and Come Back Later?

Can Grief Hide and Come Back Later?

I was recently asked this question by one of my followers:

Will grief hide itself and come back later?

And, while I was thinking about my answer, this picture showed up in my life to confirm what I was already thinking.

photo (16)“Life is a spiral. Not a Circle.”

We live in a culture that doesn’t always honour the grieving process and usually much sooner than is good for us we are thrown back into work and our other roles.

We are forced to develop coping mechanisms so we can get through the day in a socially acceptable way. ie. not crying in front of a table you are serving (I did that once ;) )

“Life is a spiral. Not a Circle.”

This means that even though we may push our feelings of grief away (as a very intelligent coping mechanism) Yes. it will resurface to be healed (sometimes at the most inopportune moment ;) )

This is a blessing in disguise. Life/the universe/whatever you want to call it has your best interest at heart. It wants you to heal and will continue to give you the opportunity to heal until the work is done.
I know, perhaps not what you wanted to hear, but once the work is done I’m living proof that grief actually can improve your life.

So what do you do about it?

I’d like to offer you some potent tools to keep in mind for the next time the spiral comes around.
Child's Pose

1. Remember to breathe.I would choose Ujayi breath which is calming to the nervous system. (You can watch this video for 3 calming breaths). Bonus points if you do your breathing in Child’s pose which will further the relaxing effect.

2. Give yourself permission to grieve. Feel your feelings as they come up without any judgement. Let go of resistance and allow yourself the space and time you need to process. Let the feelings (whatever they are) bubble up so they can be released. Cry. Scream. Journal. Trust your instincts and do what feels right for you.

3. Get support. People really do want to help; but, you may have to ask for it. A simple  available, “Can I have a hug” can work wonders. (Remember: I’m always here for you)

Be gentle on yourself. Be Kind. Healing is a process you are doing a beautiful job.

Big Love + Hugs,

Nicky xo

*****

Today’s post was written by Nicky C Jones, B.Ed, YTT, who helps women make peace with grief one softer symptom at a time…
<After losing her boyfriend to cancer and her mother to suicide within a 13 month period, Nicky was stricken by how little support there was for her.  She felt desperately alone, like no one really got it and unable to grieve authentically. Because of this she is on a mission to hold a safe space for women who are grieving while offering them tools to soften their symptoms in the most self-loving and holistic way possible.  Nicky is a skilled teacher, yoga teacher, yoga therapist, energy worker and Thai massage practitioner who wants nothing more than to lift the stigma of grief in our society one beautiful woman at a time.  Be sure to visit her website atwww.nickycjones.com for free tips & tools and instant access to her video “Reclaim your Joy”.

Filed under grief sadness loss

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In the Shadow of Grief. ~ Clare Newman | elephant journal

child's pose

Who am I and why am I here?

I believed, up until a short while ago, I knew the answers. With great pride and confidence, I would ask my students the same, as if to imply I knew who I was; why couldn’t they do the same.

Shielding myself with protective armor, I was hiding behind a persona I had created in the hopes of one day becoming. In reality, I wasn’t there.

I began to sit.

One word, one shift, one moment: grief.

My mom died in less than two weeks; although sick for more than 10 years, her sudden illness became a huge awakening. Knowing her health was deteriorating, I had convinced myself for years that I had accepted her death at some point. I felt she was my guide for only a short while longer.

My belief was that once her physical form left this earth, I would feel her presence and guidance and I would be surrounded with an abundance of love so strong, I wouldn’t be affected by her passing. After all, I was an insightful and intuitive yoga teacher, no?

I wasn’t prepared for the night she was taken into intensive care.

Her organs were failing and her heart, panicked, drained blood from her extremities. The images of her body shutting down and the effects of such have haunted me and continue to do so. I stroked her hands each night; the same hands she had so beautifully creamed each night had begun to shrivel. The burn unit carefully bandaged her hands, feet and legs as they worsened each night and her skin began to blister.

I watched intently as my father’s demeanor turned from courage to powerlessness and from compassion into sorrow.

I was completely present, carefully enthralled with the colorful patterns on her monitor, the beeping of the dialysis machine, the suctioning of the doors opening and closing to keep out foreign entities and the chatter from the nurses. I waited for a blink or a smile and held onto her carefully wrapped hands hoping for a gentle squeeze. Time stopped but days still passed.

Silence was met with heartfelt outbursts of tears. Regrets, guilt, sadness and hope weaved themselves together without any ending—my heart was broken and my mind felt numb.

They lifted her medication a week into her treatment and she awoke. With blurred eyes and confusion, she looked around the room carefully: at every machine before she looked to her loved ones. She scanned our facial expressions as she had done our entire lives. She smiled and nodded her head as if to say, “I’m present.” She was scared; she wasn’t ready to leave but in an instant I felt the deepest level of acceptance I have ever witnessed.

We all knew, including my mother, that had she survived, her life would change drastically. With multiple amputations and living life with the support of technology, she would have begged us to let her go that very day.  It’s as if she prepared me in the previous years, asking if it ever came to this moment, to do the ‘right thing’.

At that moment I couldn’t do it; I couldn’t let her go. 

My inner child—the one every reiki master, past life coach or vibrational healer told me to confront—finally emerged. Frightened and lonely, she stepped back, covered her face, prayed for a miracle and cried, “Mommy.”

She looked peaceful, rested and still; she had finally surrendered.

My family and I left that evening to rest. We had high hopes that the strong and mighty matriarch would make her triumphed return to life and freedom as she had done so many times before. When we returned in the morning, the machines had been removed and my mom was yet again, unconsciously conscious. She looked peaceful, rested and still; she had finally surrendered. Confusion and anger immediately set in and I went looking for answers to know exactly what had happened. When we had left that evening, my mother signaled for her specialist.

Unable to speak, she wrote out on a board, “I’m done.”

She had looked deep within our hearts and knew we weren’t strong enough to let her go; she made the decision to make the request herself.

It only took a few days for her to take her last breath. My brother, father and I waited patiently and, without refuge, stayed with her. Her suffering was finally over but ours seemed to just begin.

In shock and feeling numb, my family and I planned her funeral. I wrote and lead her eulogy not with any sense of feeling—just relying on my bodily systems and responses to get me through the beautiful story of her life and journey.

Months passed and I sunk deeper into what felt like a mild, functioning depression.

All of my passions and interests were no longer prevalent; I gave up my physical yoga practice not having energy. I taught with a huge smile and love in my heart for 90 minutes and picked up the despair on my way home. My relationships with my spouse and friends suffered greatly as all I wanted to do was to be alone; the only light in my life were my children, who, most days, allowed me a chance to see how far a parent will go to protect their children from misery and regret and our willingness to do anything necessary to shield them from pain.

I began to doubt all of my findings, readings and my purpose over the past 10 years as a teacher and educator.

I couldn’t connect to anything, not even my mother’s spirit. The only intention behind my meditation practice was to talk to my mother’s spirit and to my disappointment and frustration, there wasn’t ever a response. I became angry and withdrawn and felt duped by the entire conception of ‘yoga’.

I still taught but without a purpose or direction.

I sought after every psychic, clairvoyant healer I could desperate for a sign, direction or affirmation that my mother was happy and healthy and forgave me for my neglect the evening her body became riddled with pneumonia. Nothing.

Emotions came on heavy and I tried not to control the duration or amount of tears I released when I cleaned behind the fridge as my mother so obsessively did throughout my childhood, when I tucked a piece of kleenex in my shirt while dealing with a cold or when I witnessed my children’s milestones and wished my mother had been here for a shared experience.

Although we had our moments like most mothers and daughters and despite my vow to not be like my mother, I was and I am.

We were extremely close, spending almost every day together with my children. She was my best friend, my greatest teacher and my confidant. My son was an incandescent light to her throughout treatments and filled her life with joy and love. She thrived on her energetic days and rested when she felt the need to conserve her energy. My mom was the strong silent type but suffered by not speaking her truest feelings and emotions.

I know my path is similar, which is why I’ve now decided to share my vulnerability.

What is grief? It’s deep, it’s sticky and it’s layered with so many emotions it’s sometimes unbearable. It’s lonely, it’s exhausting and it’s filled with an overwhelming sense of fear. It’s unstable, it’s draining and it’s disgustingly human.

I decided to walk away from my practice and teachings, for now—to discover why I questioned my spirituality and how I became so detached from my heart and destructively emotionless. To be patient with the grieving process without any observances or distractions but just sit; to sit in the seed of the emotion, the loss, the emptiness and the guilt.

To confront my issues of abandonment and to reconnect with my broken heart. 

From here and only here, will I be able to fully understand the teachings of yoga. I feel like I’ve been here before after dealing with many struggles in my life, but this has been the absolute.

I no longer want to teach with falsehoods, pretending to be on the path to enlightenment while struggling with my own identity. I want to be nothing more than my authentic self in search of my “atman”. To teach this, I believe I have to undergo a transformation without judgement or expectations of others or myself. The need for external responses and ideas seem less important as I begin to rely more on my own truth and authenticity. Not to understand but to simply, see my purpose, my direction and most importantly, to see my Self.

My father told me about a conversation he had with my mother. My heart wept with joy hearing him laugh about throwing away containers my mother had hoarded 20 years previous and her obvious spiritual disgust for the waste. The other part of me became jealous; I couldn’t connect with her the same way. I soon realized my father, throughout his own grief, had stayed present and connected to his heart. His level of acceptance was like my mother’s that day she opened her eyes to say “I’m present.”

Who am I and why am I here?

At this very moment, I’m vulnerable. I’m brokenhearted and I’m disgustingly human. I’m here for the exact same reasons as you.

So, once again, I sit.

Filed under grief sorrow depression how to sadness

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23 Spiritualized Comfort Cliches to Avoid When a Child Dies

23 Spiritualized Comfort Cliches to Avoid When a Child Dies

The following post was originally a guest post on Michelle Van Loon’s blog, “Pilgrim’s Road Trip.”

The author of the post, who wishes to remain anonymous, wrote the following message to me via facebook:

Last June we accepted a foster placement of twin girls who were four months old. We’ve been foster parents for almost 7 years, but nothing prepared us for the sudden death of one of the twins, Ellie, at almost seven months. She went to bed a happy and healthy baby and when I reached into her crib in the morning I pulled out a corpse instead.

I am traumatized. I am an emergency nurse and not unfamiliar with death. I did CPR on Ellie out of reflex but with the full knowledge that she was gone and I couldn’t fix it. I can still taste the breath that I pushed out of her lungs. I’m never going to be the same…and I know it.

I am also a Christian. I think. In fact my husband is a church leader, making me the wife of a spiritual leader.

She then gave me the link to her post at “Pilgrim’s Road Trip.”  I asked if I could also post it on my blog and she gave me permission.  This post is immensely challenging, and will beg you to vicariously see the grief of a bereaved mother.  This isn’t an easy read, but it’s one that will help you understand the grief of a parent who has lost a child.  It’s written from the perspective of Holy Saturday … where doubt and silence are the only forms of faith.

***** 

Please stop attempting to spiritualize the death of my child.  Assigning some thoughtless Christian platitude only serves to deepen my anger and further question my beliefs.  If you don’t know what to say, a simple, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say,” would be far better than these actual attempts at comfort that I’ve received:

1. “God has a plan.
Really?  You serve a God with a plan that involves killing babies? Or at least standing by and allowing the baby to die when you believe that he could have intervened? Because the baby killers I’ve seen get life in prison. And even the convicts know which guy to attack.

2. “Some good will come of this.  You’ll see.”
You think that at some point I’m going to see some direct blessing in my life or someone else’s that will make me think, “Aha!  Here’s the good that came from my child’s death!  I am now so glad that she died so that this could happen!”  No! An Almighty God could surely think of some other really creative way to bring about good.  Or else I don’t want that “blessing.”  I will always wonder why it had to be this way, no matter what good things may come later in my life.

3. “Just think of the ministry you can have someday to parents who have lost children.”
No. At least not the ministry you’re thinking. That would require me to say that God is somehow in this for them and I happen to know that’s not helpful. Plus, I don’t want that ministry. I’ve spent twenty years of my life trying to serve God full time.  I’ve put every major decision of my life through “God’s will” as a filter, including setting aside life dreams for myself.  All of the big things I’ve tried to do for him have been heartbreak for me.  I think I’m done with ministry at this point.

4. “God loves you.”
Imagine If I were married to someone who said, “I love you.  I mean, you’re going to get hurt and I won’t stop it. In fact, I might even cause it. But I love you! It’s for your own good! It’s because of my great love for you.”  You would encourage me to get to a women’s shelter immediately for my own safety.  Where’s the safe place from this kind of “love?”

5. “God’s perfect love casts out fear.”
I’ve been dealing with a moderate amount of anxiety since my baby’s death. I’m not a very anxious person by nature, so I’ve sought some help dealing with the feelings of panic.  I struggle with coming home after a night shift and wondering what I might find.  I compulsively check on my children at night.  Going to the doctor with another child of mine is a trip through some very dark places of fear. I’m constantly wondering which of my family members is next on God’s hit list.  The advice that God’s love will fix those fears isn’t really resonating with me right now.

6. “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. Just depend on Him.”
The Christian grief counselor we saw put it this way: “God doesn’t give sorrow to people unless he knows they can handle it.”  Really? Well, he was wrong. I can’t handle this. And if he doesn’t give me more than I can handle, why do I need to depend on him? The last time I was depending on him, my child died. So, yeah. That’s not likely to happen again soon.

7. “You’ll see her again someday.”
Is that day today? Then no, this isn’t helpful. It’s minimally hopeful if I can be sure that it’s true, but there’s no Scripture to really support this belief.  There’s inference and tradition and conjecture, but there’s no chapter and verse that says, “Infants who die go to heaven.” Besides, If I live an average life expectancy, I will have to live at least another fifty years of missing her.  ”Someday” could be a long, long time from now.

8. “Look at all of God’s blessings in this situation already! At least_______”
All of your “at leasts” aren’t blessings to me. Anything you say that starts with “at least” only minimizes my feelings.

9. “Just read [insert Bible verses here] and you’ll feel better.”
Passages that have been suggested to me include verses about God’s judgment, the story of Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life, a passage instructing me that my heart is deceitful and wicked, and other similarly “helpful” Scriptures. This advice also assumes that I know no Scripture to which I can turn.  You know which verse has been ever on my mind ever since the day my child died? “My God, my God.  Why have you forsaken me?”  I’ve been reading the Bible for almost thirty years. I know where to find verses.  Not too many of them are helpful right now. Bludgeoning me with Romans 8:28 is especially painful.

10.  ”Just trust God.  He is in control.”
I was trusting God at the time my baby died. She still died. If God is in control, that assumes that he killed my baby. My sweet, smiling, dimpled baby. If he didn’t kill her, he stood by while she died and didn’t stop it. Still guilty. I’d much rather believe that fate or chance had a hand in her death. I’m a lot more likely to have a continued relationship with someone who didn’t cause my baby’s death, either directly or indirectly.<

11. “This happened for God’s glory. Maybe someone might even get saved!”
This has been said to me with much excitement and expectation. You mean to tell me that God couldn’t have orchestrated some other way to get glory or reveal himself to someone? Or that some person out there is going to say, “Oh! God allowed ‘T’s’ baby to die. I should start a relationship with him and trust him with MY life!” Doubt it. And even if that actually did happen, should I then feel that this was all worth it?

12. “This world is not our home.  She’s in a better place now.”
Yeah? Well, I live here right now, so it’s my home. If you actually believe this, why haven’t you committed suicide yet? As for me, I’d finally be in a better place if I died, too?  And no, I’m not at all suicidal.  I’m just saying that no matter where she is, I’m in a really painful place right now.

13. “Just imagine what tragedy or heartbreak God saw in your baby’s future that he decided to save her from.”By killing her? I’m sure there was another possible work-around or two. For that matter, this has been a devastating tragedy and heartbreak for me. Why didn’t I die as an infant so I wouldn’t have to go through this now?

14. “God will carry you through.”
If this is the kind of thing God is going to carry me through, I’d like him to please put me down.

15.  ”Be thankful for what you have.”
The assumption here is that I wasn’t thankful before (I was), that I’m not thankful now (I am), and further minimizes the loss I feel. How do you suggest that I answer even the simplest question of how many children I have?  I’m thankful for what I have AND for what I no longer have. It’s impossible to answer this question correctly now. Similar, but even more guilt-producing is “You have your husband and children to think about now.” Thank you for the suggestion that my grief and pain are invalid by comparison and should be left unmanaged for the good of my family. See? There. I was thankful.

16. “Things will get better.”
When?  How do you know? Because for me, bad things just keep happening. It can get worse and I can name at least fifty ways it could get worse right now. So don’t say that things will get better. It could go either way.

17. “Maybe God is trying to teach you something.”Well, maybe he could have just texted me the instructions instead. Seriously. All I’m learning is that God can do whatever he wants and that’s not necessarily a good thing. A similar platitude, “Maybe God is trying to draw you closer to himself”, is equally insulting. Can’t he see the future? Didn’t he know that using an infant’s death to deepen our relationship might backfire? Please don’t presume to know the mind of God or impart your opinion of it to me.

18. “She’s with the Lord now.”
She wasn’t before? How about the rest of my family? I’m not with the Lord? Well, I’m glad he’s with someone, I guess.

19. “I know how you feel. I felt exactly that way when my grandparent/great Aunt Lucy/Fluffy died or when my child was sick, but then got better. But I just prayed and kept my eyes on God and he got me through. He’ll get you through, too.”
You have no idea how I feel. I wouldn’t wish how I feel on anyone. And what will he get me through TO? Can you guarantee that whatever is on the other side of this trench in life is something less painful? Because whatever it is, it will be a life missing my child and all the things that loss means.

20. “I was so devastated when your child died that I couldn’t go to work that week/I’m still struggling a month later.”
Both of these are actual things said to me by people who had seen my baby fewer than six times in her whole life. Other ways people who barely knew her have tried to be a part of the drama and somehow connect themselves to this tragedy include Facebook statuses or tweets with her name as a hash tag, prayer requests without my permission or in inappropriate places, and most difficult: “How are  you doing? Because I’m so sad that ____.” There was an expectation that I should comfort THEM. Exhausting.

21. “You should_____.”
Don’t tell me what to do. I don’t want to exercise more, eat better, read that great book about God, go to a grief support group, focus on God, get involved more at church, get alone with God, go away for a weekend without my kids, take sleeping pills, talk about it more, or think about it less. I can’t afford to take any more time off work. I can’t concentrate enough to do much of anything right now, honestly. And a bigger list of things I “should” be doing right now is simply not helpful.

22. “If you need anything, let me know. I’m here for you.”

No.  I’m here. Alone. It’s not possible for you to be here for me or I’d gladly give it to you. I’m glad you want to help, and I don’t doubt your sincerity. But this comment is a substitute for any kind of real help. You’ve absolved yourself of actually helping me in any tangible or intangible way and placed the onus on me to come up with some idea of what I need. You know what I need? I need my child. Alive and giggling. I need the image of her lifeless in her crib out of my mind and the taste of her dead skin out of my mouth. I need her siblings to grow up with her. I need for my husband to have never experienced this depth of pain. If you can’t give me any of these things, you’re kind of on your own with suggestions for helping me. Maybe send a sympathy card. It will make you feel better.

23. “Well, I’ll pray for you.”
Aside from the doubt that exists over whether you’ll actually do it or not, how is this helpful? Who knows better than God what I need and why hasn’t he already given it to me? Your asking for it will make it magically appear? The worst part about this statement is that it usually comes at the end of your listening to me or grieving with me. As in, “You’re done now.  I’ll pray for you, okay? You’re making me uncomfortable with your intense sadness and hard questions.”
I know that I haven’t left you anything to say. Maybe that’s the point. I also know that, if you’re a typical Christian, you’re defensive and even deeply wounded by what I’ve said here. You’re thinking, “But remember, here’s what God is REALLY like and here’s where you’re wrong. Here’s where you need to adjust your theology and get your heart right with God.”

Whether you like it or not, no matter how uncomfortable this makes you feel, no matter what you believe or even what I believe, these things you’ve said are not helpful to me. In fact, many of them are so hurtful that I’ve been awake more than one night trying to work through them.

Maybe someday I’ll be ready to accept my child’s death with a little more grace. But for now, I’m afraid you’ll have to stick with, “This sucks,” or a simple, “I’m sorry.” You know what’s even better? The sound you make when you stay quiet.

Filed under grief death of a child mourning sadness what not to say life condolences cliches

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Should We Medicate Grief?

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is about ready to publish their Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5); and it’s created no small stir among the psychiatrist community.

One of the main issues that psychiatrists are having with the DSM-5 is that it is lumping normal grief into Major Depressive Disorder.  Here’s a quote from Dr. Allen Frances, professor emeritus of Duke’s School of Medicine:

(In the new DSM-5) Normal grief will become Major Depressive Disorder, thus medicalizing and trivializing our expectable and necessary emotional reactions to the loss of a loved one and substituting pills and superficial medical rituals for the deep consolations of family, friends, religion, and the resiliency that comes with time and the acceptance of the limitations of life.

*****

There are many shared characteristics between grief and depression, but there’s also some distinct differences.  Dr. Ginette G. Ferszt states this:

Although everyone grieves differently, grief and depression share several common characteristics. Both may include intense sadness, fatigue, sleep and appetite disturbances, low energy, loss of pleasure, and difficulty concentrating. The key difference is that a grieving person usually stays connected to others, periodically experiences pleasure, and continues functioning as he rebuilds his life. With depression, a connection with others and the ability to experience even brief periods of pleasure are generally missing. Sometimes people describe feeling as if they have fallen into a black hole and fear they may never climb out. Overwhelming emotions interfere with the ability to cope with everyday stressors.

Here is a chart that shows the similarities and differences between depression and grief.

*****

Should we medicate grief?

Mostly “no”, but in some cases “yes”.  Here is when grief may need some type of medication:

  • If grief-related anxiety is so severe that it interferes with daily life, anti-anxiety medication may be helpful.
  • If the person is experiencing sleep problems, short-term use of prescription sleep aids may be helpful.
  • If symptoms last longer than two months after the loss and the diagnostic criteria are met, the person may be suffering from Major Depressive Disorder. In this case, antidepressants would be an appropriate therapy.

Here is are some criteria to determine if grief has transitioned to Major Depressive Disorder.

  •   Feelings of guilt not related to the loved one’s death
  •   Thoughts of death other than feelings he or she would be better off dead or should have died with the deceased person
  •   Morbid preoccupation with worthlessness
  •   Sluggishness or hesitant and confused speech
  •   Prolonged and marked difficulty in carrying out the activities of day-to-day living
  •   Hallucinations other than thinking he or she hears the voice of or sees the deceased person.  (From Nancy Schimelpfening’s “Grief and Depression”).

Ultimately, grief is the response to loss.  And no amount of medication is going to bring that loss back.  We must learn to live with the loss of someone integral to our very being.  If medication hurts that learning process, then it’s destructive.  If it can help us learn to live in the “new normal”, then it becomes an aid to understanding life after loss.

I think the following quote sums up the core of why medicating grief is usually not healthy:

Filed under grief medication drugs loss funeral sadness family loved ones