My Morning Do . . . Grief and Depression

~~ by tkbrown

25 September 2020 — A few days ago, I discussed the reality of grieving not only individually but also as a society. Depression is an important part of grieving because how you cope with your depression determines the extent to which you and those around you are impacted by all stages of loss and grieving. Depression slows you down and requires that you face the loss. Denial, anger, and bargaining typically precede depression, but in societal grief there may be no way to predict how society, or individuals, will progress through the stages. So, we must develop compassion and tolerance for the suffering.

However, we must also draw a line to stop the violence and mayhem assault on others–it is not a part of grieving. Creating more grief does not resolve your own suffering or that of anyone else. It causes post-traumatic-stress disorder for all victims. Do not kid yourself! Those inflicting the harm are not the sufferers. There should be swift legal action and reparations against all who cause harm to another person or to another person’s property.

When the coronavirus hit, individuals began grieving the loss of family and friends. Those losses were not a long time in coming. Some had only a day or two of illness in the family member or friend before death caused a forever separation. Loved ones in the hospital were unable to see family and friends face to face due to the contagious aspect of the pandemic and self-quarantining required by our expert health officials. Some were able to talk on the phone with a loved one, but many could not arrange this contact due to the loved one being too ill to talk. As if these atrocities were not enough, the loved on died without being able to get a hug or hear the words “I Love You!” in a face to face visit. Some were even unable to arrange a funeral due to the virus. No technological contact can ever replace the healing power of face to face care and love.

Those who did have loved ones who survived were still not able to see them due to “stay at home” restrictions on society. The loved one may have continued to suffer problems from the illness after recovery. He or she may still be suffering. The long term impact of having the coronavirus is still being learned. How does one help a loved one when it is not possible to be there in person. The problems associated with the illness and or loss of a loved one only scrape the tip of the iceberg in dealing with losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Many have lost jobs because of the contagion causing too much illness in the workplace and decisions to close in an attempt to prevent the spread. Some were fortunate enough to be able to transfer work responsibilities to home via online portals. This provided some relief from the stressors involved, but not for all. Job losses presented the problem of not enough money for food, housing, utilities, clothing for growing children (some can grow several sizes in two to three months). The food assistance, rental protection, work position furloughs, extra unemployment compensation, student loan deferrals, and other forms of assistance provided by the federal government helped keep many from falling through the holes in the sidewalk. Others, who had no benefit of unemployment may have been buying a home instead of renting. How was this to be managed? So many question with no answers because no one can predict how long this will continue.

Add to these, the fact that a lack of immune response safety means visiting family members and friends has been largely rendered impossible unless you live close to them. Even in this situation, it must be limited in duration and frequency due to the risk of passing the virus to each other. Social distancing and face masks are another adjustment when in groups. Thrust into these restrictions without warning, without a plan for addressing the contagion or the ramification it presented–because nothing like this has ever happened before–having to keep children home from school, daycare, sports, church and visiting friends have all taken a major toll on everyone.

Shopping for groceries, cleaning and hygiene supplies, personal care products, and other essentials became a major challenge. Frequency of shopping excursions had to be greatly reduced and when in the stores many products were sold out. Production plants had been closed due to too many afflicted by the virus.

Only essential services were allowed to remain in service unless the work could be done 100% online. Some of these situations are historical firsts. They, in some ways, resemble when the Black Plague ravaged Europe, when the flu of 1918 ravaged the world, and when the Great Depression of the 1930s oppressed people everywhere. How does society go on? We have gone on here in America, and we have–so far–survived one day at a time, thanks to our Presidential Administration in Washington D.C. and to our Representatives and Senators both State and National. Even with all of the loss, and grieving, the world is surviving. This will be recorded in history books as a time of recovery even as the virile pandemic ravaged the world. The problems we are facing are normal for the extent of loss and grieving in the world. Everyone, every town, every state, every nation is suffering continuing loss and grieving. What is normal? What is not? When will it all end?

Depression is common amidst society throughout the world at present–with everyone suffering for the same or similar reasons. There are some who suffer chronic depression who should be monitored by a psychiatrist, a psychologist, or a counselor. This is due to the need for some to take antidepressants and to be monitored for problems needing special support–especially during this time of great loss. Those not needing professional assistance to wade through the daily muck are also suffering depression to some degree due to loss and grieving. No one is immune–no one will make it through this pandemic without being personally impacted in some way. This is called reactional depression. It is normal depression which occurs during times of major adjustment to loss. It is a part of the grieving process. No, it is not considered the “first stage” of grieving, but I would suggest there are some who become depressed on the first day of grieving–whatever the loss. Some work through other stages first, but with everyone in the world affected by this loss and grieving process, the stages of grief are going to vary greatly, and some will be working on more than one stage at a time. The overlap will vary but it will be there.

There is a tendency to minimize suffering associated with grief because the suffering is not seen. People go on with life unless they are overwhelmed by the losses. The same applies to societal losses and grieving. It is minimized. How soon did we see people breaking the call to self-quarantine and limit group gatherings to less than ten persons. Some were gathering in larger groups the first week even though each gathering caused spikes in the local number of people who contracted the virus.

We have death and dying all around us, and some said during the first week: “We have to move on!” “We will not be imprisoned in our own homes!” “We will not be told what we can and cannot do!” No concern existed for the safety and lives of others involved. So, the deaths and losses mounted–one upon the other. I would suggest the levels of depression in many individuals–while a natural response to the situation–are phenomenal. Thus, I have decided to discuss depression. This will require several posts to address concerns and to make suggestions for coping with loss and grieving–your own, or that of someone you love and /or care about. If you have need for coverage of some specific area of grieving and loss, and do not see it covered in the next several posts, please place a request in the comment section with a ping-back to your blog so I can address it.

Blessings to all during this time of great oppression!

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Photo Above: by pen_ash at pixabay.com.

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My Morning Do . . . “Loss and Grieving”

~~ by tkbrown

18 September 2020 — The loss being felt by every person in America is unmistakable, but indescribable. The amount of economic security that existed, for the most part, prior to the onset of coronavirus was more than ever known. A mental review of our nation’s good times–and bad– show an economy never so fully engaged with the world. Now, the trust linking countries and economies has been severed in many cases. Some–stronger–are weathering the storm, but so much worse for the wear. This loss is not limited to that of individuals within the country. This loss is of the country. Our nation is hurting right along with every citizen, resident, and alien. We are not alone in this loss. Every nation in the world is reeling with us.

The sheer number of deaths in the six months since the pandemic struck American soil are unprecedented. For many, there has been no time to truly grieve for want of trying to survive. Those in the health professions have been too busy trying to save lives to properly grieve losses in their private lives. The illness is so insurmountable, neither individuals suffering from the virus nor those caring for them have been spared the trauma of long-term suffering. Post traumatic stress disorder is a given for many of the survivors and for their caregivers.

Here in America, a “lockdown” perse could not be implemented. Such is the cost of freedom. Most other countries do not enjoy “freedom” to the extent Americans do. Our constitution engenders the right to refuse such imprisonment, and our citizens did just that. The consequence of that refusal has been the insurmountable death toll we are seeing because that refusal brought with it a spread of the virus not seen in other countries where true lockdowns could be enforced. Our government has told its citizens, “you are free to choose; so, you have the responsibility to choose wisely or suffer the undesirable consequences that accompany poor decision making”. The whole country has this freedom, and much of the country did not choose wisely.

The losses associated with preventive efforts, such as self-quarantine, has been the closing of many thriving businesses. Even with efforts to minimize the impact, the individual lives scarred by sacrificing all will never be the same. Jobs, businesses, schooling, production, productivity as a whole has been limited to such a degree it may take years to overcome the setback.

No one saw it coming. No one had a plan because there was no guidebook. Nothing outlined before even came close to including all losses being experienced today. It is a “one step at a time” endeavor. We have made mistakes, but much has been done right too. For every choice, there is a consequence. When we do not know what the consequence will be for a particular action, we make regrettable mistakes. However, we do not have the time to moan and groan over those mistakes, and we do not have time to point fingers regarding mistakes. No one is immune; everyone has made mistakes.

The blame game wastes precious time. It is a form of denial regarding the true severity of the situation. Our citizenry must stop the infighting and admit the feelings associated with the losses without hurting self or others. The anger being expressed in the violence and rioting must stop. It is hurting innocent people, and it is hurting those inflicting the harm.

These societal losses are experiencing the same stages of grieving seen in individual loss, but on a much larger scale. The anger is a symptom of being ready to address the underlying feelings. So, it is time to begin communicating those underlying feelings. To do this, it is necessary to understand the stages associated with grief. Our society, as we knew it, has died–worldwide–and it is left to us to pick up the pieces, one at a time.

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Photo Above: by Dylan Nolte @Unsplash.com.

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Source: Kubler-Ross, M.D. and D Kessler. (August 2014). “On grief & grieving: Finding the meaning of grief through the five stages of loss.” Scribner. New York. (16 September 2020).

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