Depression marks the breakdown of our defenses in times of grief. The reality of our loss sinks in deeply. It surrounds us; it dominates us; it crushes us. As Granger Westberg, a pioneer in the interrelationship of religion and medicine, notes:
"Eventually there comes a feeling of utter depression and isolation. It is as if God is no longer in His heaven, as if God does not care. It is during these days we are sure that no one else has ever grieved as we are grieving."
Some of the symptoms of depression are: Sadness and hopelessness; Loss of appetite; Insomnia; Inability to enjoy anything; Anxious or restless behavior; Apathy; Preoccupation with thoughts of suicide; Wishing to be dead; Loss of interest in sex; Difficulty in concentration and making decisions; Poor memory; Irritability; Feelings of worthlessness; Inability to cry even if one desperately needs or wants to.
There is no "normal" time frame for depression. The sense of loss ebbs and flows over time. Furthermore, depression may reoccur when memories are rekindled by a song, a sight, etc. Several years after his wife's death, one man became depressed at an auto show when he saw a 1937 Ford like the one he and his wife owned when they were first married. the grief process is like a spiral that keeps coming back to the same feelings with varying degrees of intensity and for various lengths of time.
These feelings cannot be mitigated by urging the person to "cheer up". To deal with depression, one must be reconciled with the past. This includes developing a self-identity that is not rooted in what has been lost. for the Christian, such stability can be found in one's relationship with Christ. Knowing that we are loved by God, knowing that this world is, indeed, passing away and that real glory is awaiting us, and knowing that God will never leave us or forsake us makes it possible to deal with our depression.
However, there is no such thing as automatically "getting over" a loss. No one can determine how quickly or how slowly a person will move through depression. Nor should pressure be applied to "get on with life".
Here are some suggestions that may help you cope and work through your depression:
1. Let others into your life. You need them. Let them help you with practical tasks. If you choose, you can ask them simply to be with you and not talk much. That is o.k. Just don't cut yourself off from others.
2. Keep a journal
3. Meditate on God's promises.
4. Don't allow yourself to sink into inactivity. Get involved in some form of service to others, develop a new hobby, etc.
5. Don't try to short-circuit depression in harmful ways, such as through alcohol abuse, overworking, promiscuity, overeating, etc.
6. Face the fact of you loss squarely in all of its pain. Move your sight from the loss to the future.
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