The passing of a loved one is a challenging experience for anyone. Loss comes with a range of emotions including grief, fear, and even confusion. All of these are natural responses and usually ease with time. We all have different methods of coping and dealing with difficulty, however this can be harder for some people than others.
In some individuals, the stress of losing a loved one may even trigger depression. Depression is usually characterised by persistent feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness over a prolonged period of time. It is accompanied by various symptoms including social withdrawal, fatigue, altered appetite and sleeping patterns, and lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities.
Depression is real
Depression is very real and should not be dismissed as weakness or incompetence, which unfortunately is common. It is estimated that one in six Australians will experience the condition at some point during their lives. Bereavement is not the only cause of depression, however it certainly takes it toll.
What do I do?
If you think that someone who has recently suffered a loss may be showing signs of depression, a good starting point is to simply have a talk. It is important to listen and to assure them that you are there to be of support, free of judgement. Let them know that you care about them and the reasons why you are concerned. If it seems that they’re having a particularly tough time, it may be helpful to suggest that they see their GP or other mental health professional for diagnosis and support. Counselling and other services may assist them towards a path of acceptance and recovery.
Many people who suffer from depression refrain from reaching out for help, as they feel ashamed to admit to others that they are struggling. For this reason it is crucial for communities to come together and make the effort to reach out to individuals instead. People mourning a family member or close friend should never go through the experience on their own, and it’s up to us to make the first step.
Whether it’s through simply lending an ear to listen, offering to do things for them when they feel overwhelmed, or referring them to a professional — every little bit makes a difference. In line with The Garden Cemetery’s motto…
We believe that during the hardest moment in each person’s life, they deserve to be offered the greatest support, in the most honourable way.”