Grief and Depression

When Sadness Overwhelms

Grieving is a natural and important process that helps us avoid depression and psychological problems later in life. Just as no two people are alike, the stages of grief are different for all of us and the time it takes to pass through them varies. In general, we must experience at least one set of seasons and holidays without a loved one, but often the grieving process takes much longer. Remember the grieving process is natural and ultimately will restore balance to your life.

The grieving process in an unexpected death usually takes much longer to work through than the death following a long illness because caregivers and the family is unprepared for the death. Caregivers may wish they had said or done something before the death or feel like they have “unfinished business.” Sometimes caregivers feel guilt and blame themselves for the death.

Stages of Grief

Each person experiences loss in a personal way. However, the following are common

stages in the grieving process:

  • Shock and numbness—usually the first stage, which can last from a few days to several months

  • Denial—a refusal to accept the loss

  • Realization and emotional release—feelings of overwhelming sadness and bouts of crying, often at unexpected times

  • Guilt—feelings that more could have been done

  • Disorganization and anxiety—confusion and an inability to concentrate, causing feelings of panic

  • Memory flashbacks—sudden flashbacks of both good and bad memories are normal but can be frightening