Grief 101

mwhhospiceI sat in on the Oct 1 version of Grief 101 yesterday. These excellent sessions are sponsored for the community – free of charge – by Mary Washington Hospice, the people who I volunteer for. Yesterday’s topic was interesting to me both because I deal with it in working with patients but also because I wonder sometimes about me and my situation. (Click on the photo to the right for a larger image in order to see what is being offered the rest of the year.)

Several things about grief and depression from today’s seminar:

1. Among other differences, grief can be characterized by waves of grief – up and down during the day or week. Clinical depression is most often characterized by a constant, sustaining sense of desperation for long periods (days or weeks) of time.
2. Additionally, grief can often be characterized by guilt and remorse where depression usually is not about guilt and remorse.
3. And finally, grief can often be characterized by a person being open to care and support where depression in a person is often characterized by a person not generally desiring support.
4. A person can be “steeped in grief” but should not be concerned that he is in a depressive state.
5. Grief is a very natural reaction to loss whereas depression is not normal and, if diagnosed by a medical expert as being clinical depression, the condition will require professional care.
6. In grief, it must simply be accepted at some point that “you will not be the same forever.”
7. One thing not to do is “slump into our grief.” We often – both mentally and physically – begin to slump and get lazy in grief.
8. “Managing grief needs to become like reconciling a balance sheet. Good things will result in more good things but bad things will result in bad things. A balance needs to be attained.”
9. Complete numbness in grief is not good. Perhaps a bit of numbing (medications, sleep, eating food, etc.) is okay but too much numbness will likely completely cover the pain. When pain is completely masked, true healing will not be able to occur. We must learn to handle both happiness and pain in order to maintain a semblance of balance.
10. The best way to get through grief is by being in a safe place with a trusted support group of people with common issues and interests. There is not any better way to manage grief than by being in a support group for a suitable period of time

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