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The Art of Caring for a Loved One’s Grief

grief support

How do I Recognize Grief?

If you are a caregiver for a parent or a loved one who has lost someone they love you must know that grieving is normal process with defined stages. Those stages include:
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Common symptoms of grief may include shock, sadness, guilt, anger, and fear. There are also many physical symptoms of which you should be aware. These may include a change in your sleep patterns, bodily aches, poor appetite, and constant fatigue. Each person’s journey is their own. The goal is to get to acceptance of the process and good memories of the loved one. The process should take as long as it takes and should not be pushed. There are, however, warning signs to look for when grieving transitions to depression.

When Does Grief Turn to Depression?

Is grief keeping you or someone you love from resuming normal activity?
Is grief becoming worse over time? Complex grief is a state of being in limbo and being unable to move to the next state of grief.

Things to look for will include:
  • Obsessive thoughts about the deceased person
  • Living in a pretense that the person is still living
  • Unremitting feelings of hopelessness
  • Sadness that does not improve, at least temporarily, and lasts months
  • Anger that does not relent and is unexplainable

The next stage of complex grief could be severe depression. Normal grief is spotted by periods of normal routine. Severe depression does not experience these breaks and may include:
  • Loss of interest in activities that the person used to enjoy
  • Preoccupation with death, or their own death
  • Loss of weight or disinterest in food
  • Increased use of alcohol

How Can a Caregiver Help?

For a loved one going through the normal stages of grief, here are some ways you can help:
  • Talk about the deceased person and use their name. No one wants to think of their loved as forgotten. Let your loved one talk and listen patiently
  • Ask how you can help. Visit, shop, clean, call.
  • Continue to make contact. Grief doesn’t end after the first few weeks or the first few months.
  • Remember that holidays and anniversaries can be grief triggers. Don’t let your loved one be alone.
  • Suggest a bereavement or support group.
  • If complex grief, or depression is suspected, seek medical help

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