The loss of a loved one can have a profound effect on all of us. Perhaps in ways that we can’t fully realize. At first it might be hard for us to accept the reality that the person is gone. That we will never again be able to hug them, laugh with them about the good ole days, or watch the love they have for their spouses, their children or grandchildren sparkle in their eyes as they spoke of them.
After realizing that they will no longer be one of the constants in our lives we might become angry. Mad at ourselves for not spending more time with them, especially in those final years. We will pray, we will cry, but eventually we will begin to accept death as the inevitable end to every life no matter how special or unique the person was to us.
Death is a certainty for everyone and everything. It’s important however to remember that although grieving is a normal process after a loved one’s death, those that have moved on ahead of us would wish that our sorrow be short lived. Their desire would be for us to live out our lives as planned. We must continue on as examples of the positive things that they left behind, and become who we were meant to become. We must embrace our grief in order to overcome it. Remember that grief for a loved one’s death is not a sign of weakness but a sign of the love that we hold for them.
Different people react to things in different ways. It takes some a bit longer than others to get over their grief so don’t feel inadequate or unstable if it takes you a while longer than others think it should. Though we may never understand exactly why things happen; we realize that they all happen for a specific reason. It may not seem like it now, but as time moves on, we know that the pain and hurt that we feel will subside. However, the memories of all the good things they meant to us will remain.
With the holiday season upon us and our emotions already stretched to their limits, I would like to remind everyone that sometimes the events that seem small to us may be just enough to push others beyond the breaking point. Although grief is something that we must embrace in order to move on, it’s only a short step from natural sorrow to depression. I thought it appropriate to share this list, of some of the signs of depression, so that we may be better prepared to help our loved ones, or ourselves, through what can be such an emotional time in our lives.
- Feeling physically drained or emotionally out of control (extreme mood swings, feeling good one minute and sad the next)
- Difficulty in eating, perhaps the thought of food might even make you ill
- Increased susceptibility to illnesses
- Feeling emotionally shut down
- Difficulty in doing everyday tasks, can’t think clearly, or remember things
- Crying continuously, or unable to control anger
- Can’t cry at all
- Drinking more than usual
- Can’t sleep at night, taking frequent naps, or are constantly tired
- Sigh a lot
- Talk about death over and over or dwell on it every moment
- Loss of interest in work, house, or physical appearance. Neglect of personal hygiene (don’t brush teeth, take regular baths, or wash hair very often)
- Suffer from extreme loneliness
- Have lots of guilt about things you did or didn’t do
- Lack of interest in sex
- Constantly criticizing yourself
- Feels like there is a huge hole in your heart or something is missing
- Relive and rehash scenes or conversations
- See no reason to exist
Perhaps, it’s the last listed here, that we must be especially vigilant. Depression can sneak up on us without warning and sometimes, it can be very difficult to distinguish between it and normal adolescent behavior. We must remember, that no matter how bad it gets, no matter now desolate, lonely, sad, miserable, or lost we feel, it will get better. Every person who is born has a purpose. We may think that our life is worthless or we won’t be missed, but we’ll never know whose life we will touch, or the difference we might make in that person’s life. However, each of us will make a difference to someone.
You can see how easily it can be to confuse depression with so many things. The key is the length of time it takes to recover from an emotional trauma. If you feel that your grieving is lasting too long, seek the help of a therapist, minister, friend, or physician. It’s okay to seek help until you are better able to handle your grief. Never be ashamed at seeking professional help. Remember that each time you suffer a loss, large or small; it can trigger feelings that will bring back all the memories of all your other losses. Things like the loss of a pet, a house fire or even a bad grade on a homework assignment is enough to push us over the edge. You may not consciously think about them, but the feelings can still be there.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us ‘To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to morn and a time to dance. A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; A time to keep silent, and a time to speak; A time to love and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace.’
Above all, I wish for every one of you a time of peace.
Merry Christmas to all.