When a person loses someone close to him or faces any kind of loss, he goes through five stages of grief. One of the stages of grief is depression. No matter what kind of depression you have, whether it be because of mental illness or grief, it is something that should be taken seriously. If you already have depression due to mental illness grief can intensify it. When it is depression from grief, it can be handled differently than that caused by mental illness.

I have gone through a lot of grief in my life. I went through the five stages of grief, but when it came to depression, it was intensified for me. When I lost my uncle in an accident, I was already suffering with depression. The loss intensified my depression and sent me into a very dark place. I fell to pieces and was on the edge of my breaking point. My thinking was illogical and internally I blamed myself for his death because of a wish I made. I didn’t know the difference between depression because of grief and the depression I already was feeling. I didn’t even know what depression was at that time.

Each time I have lost people in my life, it intensified my mental illness. In therapy I learned different ways to cope with depression as a mental illness. Recently I learned that dealing with a person who is suffering with depression just caused by grief is different than handling a mental illness.

A dear friend of mine lost a very close family member. Her family member had been ill, and as she took care of him, she started dealing with stages of grief. When he passed, she sunk into a depression. I wanted to be supportive, and I thought I could help her by sharing some of my coping techniques I learned for depression. She didn’t respond to my suggestions. I decided to do some research.

Here is a list of things you can do to help your friend or family member suffering from depression due to grief:

  • Don’t tell them about your grief or depression experiences. When a person is grieving, he can only focus on what he or she has lost. Grieving people don’t want to hear your experiences.
  • Don’t give advice. Don’t tell people what they should do with their grief or what worked for you. Don’t tell them how you think they should deal with their depression. You could do more harm to them. Everyone grieves differently. Allow your friend or family member grieve in his or her own way.
  • Be willing to listen and be supportive. This is when your friend or family member needs you the most. Be available to listen, to comfort, and to give support when they need it.
  • Don’t get pushy. If your friend or family member pulls away and insists he needs time alone, let him have that time. Don’t insist on visiting, on getting him out of the house, or talking when he is not ready to. If your friend or family member is sleeping a lot and doesn’t have interest in everyday activities, don’t push him. Let the person come to you when he or she is ready.
  • Do little things to remind the friend or family you are there for him or her. Offer to get the person’s mail, send a thinking of you card, or bring the person a meal.
  • Check in on your friend or family member. If your friend is spending a lot of time isolated from everyone, check in with him. Give him a phone call or drop in just to make sure he is well. You don’t have to stay to visit or have a long conversation. Just make sure the person is okay and then let him or her be.
  • Give your friend or family member plenty of time to grieve. Some get over grief in a short time and others may take longer. Never tell him or her to get over it. Let him take as long as he needs to grieve. Just support the person, no matter how long it takes.
  • Don’t avoid talking about the loved one your friend or family member lost. He needs to be reminded of the good memories and to share his own memories. Talking about the person he lost helps him come to terms with his loss.
  • Beware of signs your family member or friend needs extra help. If your family member or friend stops functioning, talks about suicide, gives up on taking care of himself, and the depression worsens, suggest grief counseling or therapy.

Grief is a hard thing to go though and sometimes we fear we’ll say or do the wrong thing when trying our best to help a loved one who is grieving. The best thing we can do for a person grieving is to be supportive and patient.

Because I researched grief I am working to be as supportive as I can be for my friend. Being there for others in their time of need and learning about depression from grief helps me stand in the light of recovery with a full heart and new knowledge.



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