Depression is the fourth of the Stages of Grief and often includes feelings of sadness, regret, fear, uncertainty, loneliness, and loss of interest, after the unexpected or expected death or a loss.
Whereas the bargaining (stage three) and anger (stage two) stages are full of complex and active emotion, fighting against reality (stage one), depression represents the “quiet” stage of grief, where one is genuinely beginning to accept that death or a diagnosis has genuinely occurred.
Depression is not well-defined and can include any number of complex behaviors- depression, for one, may look high-functioning. Yet, at the same time, another may be unable to draw themselves out of bed.
Like the other Stages of Grief, this stage will be processed much differently between every individual– the feelings may feel overwhelming and foggy, or they may feel quiet and numb.
A person in the depression Stage of Grief may find themselves thinking about whether they should go on at all. They may wonder how they can ever move forward or believe that their life has met a terrible end. While it is important to acknowledge these thoughts, it is more important to understand that thoughts like these in the depression stage are hardly rational.
Depression can spiral into harmful behaviors (such as a lack of self-care practices). So it is essential to continue to process one’s emotions actively and seek outside resources like therapists or health professionals if necessary.
Some unhealthy behaviors that may require intervention include:
- Interruption of normal activities
- Maintaining extensive/obsessive contact with a deceased loved one (i.e., visiting one’s grave excessively)
- Lack of self-care and grooming practices
- Not eating, drinking, or sleeping
While depression may feel like the final stage of the Five Stages of Grief for many, the end is acceptance of the death or impending death of a loved one.
Grief can be overwhelming and affect your ability to function in daily life. From basic activities like going to work to more complex things like making plans and settling financial affairs, these will vary in difficulty depending on where you are emotionally. You may feel completely unable to accomplish even the most minor task. If so, consider talking with a social worker or counselor. Bluebird’s Hospice program has Social Workers who deal with these issues every day. Or reach out to your counselor who can help you through this challenging time.
For more information on the Stages of Grief, please contact Bluebird Health Hospice program.