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Grief and Depression

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How Do We React to Grief and Loss? continued...

Bargaining: This stage of grief may be marked by persistent thoughts about what "could have been done" to prevent the death or loss. Some people become obsessed with thinking about specific ways things could have been done differently to save the person's life or prevent the loss. If this stage of grief isn't dealt with and resolved, the person may live with intense feelings of guilt or anger that can interfere with the healing process.

Depression: In this stage, we begin to realize and feel the true extent of the death or loss. Common signs of depression in this stage include trouble sleeping, poor appetite, fatigue, lack of energy, and crying spells. We may also have self-pity and feel lonely, isolated, empty, lost, and anxious.

Anger: This stage is common. It usually happens when we feel helpless and powerless. Anger can stem from a feeling of abandonment because of a death or loss. Sometimes we're angry at a higher power, at the doctors who cared for a lost loved one, or toward life in general.

Acceptance: In time, we can come to terms with all the emotions and feelings we experienced when the death or loss happened. Healing can begin once the loss becomes integrated into our set of life experiences.

Throughout our lives, we may return to some of the earlier stages of grief, such as depression or anger. Because there are no rules or time limit to the grieving process, everyone's healing process will be different.

What Can Get in the Way of the Healing Process?

Some things can impede or slow down the healing process following a death or loss. They include:

  • Avoiding emotions
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Minimizing feelings
  • Overworking on the job
  • Misusing drugs, alcohol, or other substances as a way to deal with emotional discomfort
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