Here it comes- deep feelings of being so, so sad. Depression after a loss- now is the point where we know we can’t fix this problem easily. We really can’t bring our loved ones back. This is our new normal whether we like it or not. Usually NOT. This low space turns into depression. It is a yucky stage of grief. This is normal and situational depression. It will go away. But we have to go through this to get to the other side.
Depression is hitting the bottom. You may feel like your life is pointless, you can’t concentrate, don’t care, you have nothing left to give, and wonder if life is worth living. Many people don’t want to get out of bed and have a huge loss of energy. I didn’t want to do what I normally would want to do- such as go out with friends or to work. I didn’t eat hardly anything. (I have heard of others who can’t stop eating). It’s all a part of this stage of grief.
Now to the science part of this (which I love). It helps me make sense of it all. Our body is incredibly intelligent. Right now when you are in trauma your body wants to protect you. Depression shuts down our nervous system so we can’t feel what we are NOT ready to handle. Situational depression is not a mental illness. It is a normal way your body responds to lose. It shows that you loved that person deeply. This loss is unlike anything I have ever felt and shook me to the core.
But What is good about this DEPRESSION stage? There is a reason for it:
~ It slows us down
~ reflect upon the life and memories up to this point.
~ Loss is complex and you get to take the time to feel it from all points of view.
~ we get to know what pure loss feels like and it makes us more empathetic to others going through lossin any form (financial, physical, emotional)
~ look deep inside ourselves and take the time to get to know ourselves better.
~ knowledge that this feeling won’t last forever. I had to know the sad to know the happy more fully.
~ ask ourselves questions on what we truly believe
People were freaking out because it made them uncomfortable to see me sad. They were more worried about their own needs — and getting me out of this crap was their biggest need! They were telling me to snap out of it, look at the bright side or it’s been long enough- move on! What meant the most to me was having someone sit with me and just be with me. Not saying, At least ___ or Don’t be sad, This is sad! You can ask yourself a question when you are feeling sad- Is this worth being sad about? Well, death is. Our society looks at this depression like it needs to be treated, but it can’t be right after a great loss. It’s our right to feel sad. It’s ok to have life suck for a while- it’s supposed to! Our worlds have been completely turned upside down. Feeling this way for weeks or months is normal. If it goes on too long where it doesn’t feel right to you, or you are having suicidal thoughts- please get to a doctor immediately. But usually, it is the opposite that’s true- we don’t let ourselves feel this depressed state. Remember to listen to your gut most importantly- you know yourself better than anyone else and please put yourself first, for once, and get the help you need. But most of this €œdepression€ is normal. One big clue I had was I had never had depression before so this must be a part of this process because it’s not how I normally behave.
I have heard that you should think of depression like it is an unwanted visitor. Sit with it and allow the emptiness to be there. It will go away when it has served its purpose. I don’t want an unwelcome visitor for even one day so this is a tough one!
This may sound funny, but I set time aside each day during the first month to be sad. When I got home from the gym and was completely worn out, this was my time to be sad for about 30-60 minutes- whatever I felt like that day. I would sit in my family room by my CD player and play an album by Kenneth Cope. He sang at my husband’s funeral and gave me a CD with the song he sang on it. I would sit and sob while listening to it and let the tears cleanse my soul. Nobody was home at this time of day, so nobody saw me grieve and that was perfect for me. It also got some of the tears out so later maybe I had a chance to hold them back if I needed to.
I would go until I felt like that was enough for the day and tell myself, €œThat’s it! Let’s go do something good now. I walked out of that room and would get to work in my office. I was never one who liked to feel depressed. It got me nowhere in my life, but at this time I had to let it be inside me– so I gave myself about an hour a day to go there. As time went on, I didn’t need as much time to just sit and feel this sorrow, after a month or so, I sat by the music only a few times a week, then it went to once a week, then once a month.I am a person who says, €œI get knocked down, I get up again!€ But getting up again this time wasn’t so easy.
Once in a while when people were critical of my actions, I thought, Oh you just wait until this happens to you, but then I thought, Oh I hope it never happens to you. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. But then, I would never wish it away because it made me the person I am today. But I still wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Wow, even when trying desperately to make this easy when writing it out some of this doesn’t even make sense!
I heard whisperings in the neighborhood that I wasn’t grieving. That hurt my feelings, but then I realized most of these people who were mumbling, had never been through a deep loss like this. They had no idea what was going on behind my closed door. I wasn’t going to act depressed or sick or whatever they expected out in public. This was very personal time and most of the time, not even my family saw this. Looking back, I should have let my kids see more of this because they also believed I didn’t grieve or it wasn’t as big of a deal to me as it was to them. Not sure how they ever got that impression, but I guess I was telling them and myself to LOOK FOR THE GOOD.
Now that you know this is normal, you can step outside of yourself and watch how you respond to stress. Now you can make a choice on how to go from here. Should I eat more? What can I do to make myself feel better and help me get out of bed? Follow your intuition and do what is good for YOU! You can do this.