Newly bereaved or a longtime survivor, it’s always helpful to know we aren’t alone in what we’re feeling. Today, guest blogger Jennifer Scott, of SpiritFinder.org, shares tips and considerations for everyone navigating the grief journey.
Tragic Loss Can Spark Anxiety And Depression, But Support And Time Can Help
Facing the tragic loss of a loved one can turn someone’s world upside down and make moving forward a major challenge. Anxiety and depression are common challenges that can set in as the process of grieving intensifies. It is important to know how to cope with these challenges. Whether the lost loved one is a spouse, a child, a close relative, or a friend, the grief can become overwhelming, and knowing how to work through these feelings is important.
Grief and mourning don’t follow a specific pattern or timeline
Whether a tragic loss is sudden or expected, heartbreak and grief can make it difficult to handle life in general. As Harvard Health Publications details, there is no timeline for processing the grief from a loss, and the process is different for everybody. While feelings of sadness and despair are to be expected when a loved one passes, the struggles can transition into true anxiety and depression and at times additional steps need to be taken to handle the intense feelings that arise.
It can be difficult to reach out for help and support amid feelings of depression or anxiety, but it is important to let others step up and lend a hand. Some people tend to isolate themselves as they cope with grief and mourning, but that isolation can become a factor in developing serious depression issues. Look for supportive friends or family members when things get challenging and stay in touch with a family physician to keep them apprised of how the grieving process is going as well.
Taking care of oneself psychologically, emotionally, and physically often slips to become a low priority when feelings of depression and anxiety take hold. However, self-care is critical during difficult times like this and if one cannot sleep, make it to commitments, eat, or connect with others, it may well be time to call a support line or reach out to a medical professional, shares Vitas.
Is it typical grief or a lasting depression?
When has grief transitioned into depression? According to Healthline, prolonged feelings of sadness that make it difficult to accomplish regular routines can be a sign of depression. If the feelings of sadness take hold and seem to be present much of the time, and one notices that it is becoming difficult to move forward and cope with everyday life, it is wise to connect with a professional who can provide some assistance.
Support groups can be a big help to those trying to cope with a tragic loss, and some people find comfort in pursuing a new hobby or skill. Quality rest, healthy eating, staying organized, and getting regular exercise can be quite helpful in conquering feelings of anxiety and depression. Avoiding alcohol and drugs is key as well.
Time does heal, but the first milestones can be overwhelming
Working through these difficult feelings can feel like an unpleasant roller coaster ride, and the first year is particularly challenging for many. Time often does help one heal, especially once all of the “firsts” have passed such as the first anniversary, first birthday, and the first set of holidays.
While time passing typically helps ease the difficult feelings that come after a loss, that does not mean that one should hold back from addressing feelings of anxiety or depression when they arise. Things may begin to feel better for a while, and then a new wave of grief and mourning can hit and push someone back into the darkness. When this happens, it’s important to continue to practice self-care and patience, in addition to seeking out others, whether it’s friends, family, or a support group.
It might take a few years or it could take 10 years; the grieving process is a long and winding road, but as time goes on it will become easier to navigate. And though the pain never goes away, it will lessen.