Grief is complicated. There is no “right” way or linear path to cope with the loss of someone or something we love--grief is an ongoing process that takes time.
According to research, up to one-third of people who have endured a significant loss experience negative effects on their physical and mental health, and up to 7% of bereaved individuals experience complicated grief. These numbers are significant and show that grief looks different for everyone.
Grief can feel a lot like depression, and if you struggle with depression, you may already know your own signs and symptoms. Though they can feel similar, grief and depression do not have to go hand in hand. You can cope with, feel, process, and manage grief while being mindful, aware, and proactive in managing depressive symptoms.
With both grief and depression, it is helpful to be gentle with yourself. You may feel more overwhelmed, physically or mentally tired, and have difficulty taking care of yourself in the ways you are used to. This can be a normal part of the grieving process.
Do not be too hard on yourself. Understand that this is a process that takes time, and in that process, you may not be able to “keep up” with the schedule you are used to managing.
Allow yourself more time and ease in daily tasks- this may look like taking a slow walk instead of hitting your usual gym or choosing some easier meals. It may also look like asking for help.
Remember that it's okay to feel sad, scared, or angry right now. Your feelings are entirely valid, and acknowledging them is an essential step in your healing journey.
Grief can feel lonely, and loneliness can trigger isolation. This is especially true if you struggle with depression.
Isolation from others is a common response to both grief and depression. You can combat isolation by finding safe and supportive connections with others.
You may want to isolate yourself because it feels like no one understands the grief you are experiencing. Grief groups can be an incredibly helpful way to find meaningful support with individuals who understand the complicated nature of grief. There are peer-led and professional support groups in most communities, and you should be able to find one that's local to you.
You can also seek support within your friend or family group. Be mindful of the people you choose to spend time with, and communicate what you need from them. You may need to talk it out, or you may just need someone to sit and watch Netflix with. Ask for support from those around you who will respect your boundaries and provide helpful support.
Set Structure For Your Day
Lack of energy and difficulty maintaining daily tasks can be a symptom of the grieving process and depression. This mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion makes it difficult to get anything done, which can then perpetuate the cycle of depressive symptoms.
Give yourself a schedule for the day. No matter how simple or gentle it may be, setting a routine is helpful as you process grief.
Your schedule may look like going for a walk at the same time each morning or taking the time to make your coffee while listening to a favorite song.
Your schedule does not have to re-create the pace you were living before you were grieving. Find a new, gentler routine that you can stick to.
Talk to a Professional
If you have a therapist or primary care doctor, it may be a good idea to reach out and let them know what is going on. They can help monitor healthy habits and serve as an added layer of support as you move through and process grief.
If you have never gone to therapy before but feel that the grief and depression are overwhelming, it might be a good idea to consider speaking to someone.
Many therapists specialize in working with grief and can help support your process as you work through the challenging feelings. A well-trained therapist can help you sit with your emotions and give you a space to express yourself in a healthy way.
Final Thoughts on Managing Grief and Depression
Grief and depression have many similar features; you may feel more tired than usual, want to isolate yourself from others, feel flooded and overwhelmed with emotion, or feel completely numb. These symptoms will look different for each individual, and only you will know what feels normal to you.
At first, managing grief can feel all-encompassing. That said, the intensity does get better with time. With gentleness, community, and professional support, you can process your grief in a safe, effective, and supported way.
At The Resurface Group, we understand that grief can be a part of your recovery process. We are here to provide you with the support and camaraderie you need. Contact us today to get started.