Grief is the emotional experience to profound loss. Coping with grief  may be related to the loss of someone very important to you or it may be something else that is now lost to you. This profound sense of sorrow, sadness and confusion happens as a normal response to the death of someone you love, a divorce, the loss of your home, moving away from a place you call home leaving friends and family, the loss of your job and a myriad of other losses that we experience in life, including the loss of our health from an illness. Everyone experiences loss and grief, but coping with grief is an individualized matter.

What do you feel when coping with grief?

When first confronted with the death or loss you will most likely feel a sense of shock. You’ll probably feel numb with a sense of emptiness. You may also experience some physical symptoms such as weakness, trembling, difficulty breathing, feeling nauseated, dry mouth, and difficulty eating and sleeping. It’s common to become angry that this happened and may even blame someone. There may be a guilt component to coping with grief as people commonly ruminate over what they think they could have or should have done that may have prevented this from occurring.

Grief stricken people commonly have unusual dreams or even nightmares. They complain of the inability to think straight or remember things. They become socially withdrawn and may not even feel like going to work. These feelings and symptoms are a normal response although they vary among individuals and they do pass with time.

How long does it take to get over grief?

Feelings of grief last as long as it takes the individual to finally accept their loss and be able to carry on with life. Some people grieve for a few months but for others must learn to cope with grief for years. Everyone experiences grief differently. There are many factors that come into play that account for the differences among individuals styles of coping with grief. It could be the person’s personality, their general coping style, their general health, their cultural or family background, previous experiences with loss and their life history. The time one spends grieving is also a function of the relationship they had with the person who died and how prepared they were for the loss and hence coping with grief.

How can I tell if I’m finished grieving?

For everyone there are four basic stages of coping with grief and until they’re completed they’re still grieving:

  1. Acceptance of the loss.
  2. Process and experience the emotional and physical pain of the loss.
  3. Adjusting to life without the person you love or the item you lost.
  4. Move on with your life.

The process of coping with grief can end only when all four processes have been completed.  The stages are not sequential, may occur simultaneously and everyone moves through them in different ways.

What happens if these profound feelings of sadness and loss don’t end?

If your loss happened recently these feelings of sadness and upset are very normal. However, if there is no let up and this goes on for a very lengthy period of time, grief may become major depression.

What’s the difference in coping with grief and major depression?

Major depression is comprised of a lot more factors than feelings of grief when someone experiences a profound loss. Major depression encompasses one’s body and mind, which then impact their feelings and emotions.

Typical symptoms of depression:

  • A profound and lasting feeling of “emptiness”.
  • A persistent feeling of sadness and anxiety.
  • Unable to sleep or sleeping all the time.
  • Feeling tired all the time or fatigued.
  • Having aches and pains that recur and treatment doesn’t help.
  • Difficulty focusing, remembering things or unable to make decisions.
  • Losing or gaining weight, having little or no appetite.
  • Having feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or helplessness.
  • Feeling guilty.
  • Have thoughts of suicide or death and may attempt suicide.

Because our treatment for depression relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.   Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting.  If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.