Is My Sadness Depression?

Depression is a pathological mental issue for many Americans.  It can make many adults, as well as teens, feel worthless and aimless in life.  The ironic nature of this disorder is that it usually owes its source to no particular loss.  It is a more a general feeling of low self-esteem, lethargy,  and sadness.  One feels hopeless.  One loses interests in activities or being around others in general.  One loses energy to move sometimes even out of bed.  The disorder can come and go, persist or move with the seasons.

Understanding the differences between depression and normal grief, even complicated grief is important.  The American Academy of Grief Counseling has posted numerous blogs and videos on the issues of depression, complicated grief, prolonged grief and normal grief.  It is very important to understand when one has a pathological grief.  While no one person is the same in grieving, there are signs that can lead to what is more nefarious forms of grief or sadness.

In general, grief over a particular loss, consists in a period of 6 months to 1 year.  Note already, even complications in grief are usually associated with a particular loss or event, something which depression is not.  For those who experience a loss that is more traumatic, or sudden, there is always a greater chance of complications than if the loss was “normal”.  Even if perceived as normal, complications can exist.

Is the sadness your experiencing natural grief, complicated grief or depression? It is important to find out

 

Individuals who suffer a loss can experience prolonged grief within the 6 month period and it can persist well beyond the 1 year period.  These sudden feelings of sadness once associated with depression, are in themselves their own pathology.  The emotions in prolonged grief are more intense over an extended period of time and they center around the loss.  Lack of association with others or places that correlate with the individual are avoided. Disinterest in life is generally focused and centered around the loss too, as well as extreme emotional guilt or regret centered around the loss of person. All of these intense feelings flood into the person’s overall life. In contrast, depression is a more general loss of hope, a more general dissociation from places and activities.

Individuals can also, unfortunately, suffer from both depression and prolonged grief.  Certified Grief Counselors need to send any clients who show these symptoms to therapists or Licensed Professional Counselors.  A Certified Grief Counselor who is not also a Licensed Professional Counselor is not permitted by law to work with these cases.

Due to this, diagnosis of depression or any type of grief complications are reserved for therapists.

The article, “Detecting and Diagnosing Depression: It Can Look Different in Men and Women and in Teenagers, Too” by Joseph Bennington-Castro takes a closer look at diagnosing depression and the extreme importance of detecting depression early.   He lists the numerous symptoms for depression in adults and teens as well as in men and women.  He also gives additional resources for help for those who feel depressed and think these symptoms may match their behavior.  The article states,

“Depression doesn’t affect all people in exactly the same way, but the illness is associated with particular signs and symptoms. There is a minimum number of symptoms needed for a clinical diagnosis of depression, but the combination and exact number of symptoms in each person can vary. If you have been experiencing some of the following symptoms for most of the day, almost every day, for two weeks or more, you may be struggling with depression”

“Detecting and Diagnosing Depression: It Can Look Different in Men and Women and in Teenagers, Too”. Joseph Bennington-Castro. September 6th, 2022. EveryDayHealth.

To review the article, please click here

Commentary 

Bennington-Castro in his article lists a variety of symptoms for depression that occur within a day to two week period or more.  If someone experiences many of these symptoms without any root loss or cause, then one should seek professional help to treat depression.

Depression can haunt many lives if left untreated. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification

 

Types of Depression

There are several types of depression that researchers have identified. The most common types are major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder. Major depressive disorder is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities that lasts for at least two weeks. Dysthymic disorder is a less severe form of depression that can last for years. Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of depression alternated with periods of mania.

Signs of Depression

The symptoms of depression can be divided into two categories: somatic and psychological. The somatic symptoms of depression include fatigue, changes in appetite, weight loss or gain, sleep disturbances, and slowed thinking and movement. The psychological symptoms of depression include feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and hopelessness, as well as loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed. Some people may experience thoughts of death or suicide when they are depressed.

There are a number of conditions that must be met in order to diagnose someone with depression. First, the person must have a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in activities. Second, the person must have at least four of the following symptoms: changes in appetite or weight, sleep problems, fatigue or low energy, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, and thoughts of death or suicide.  These conditions are based on a period of time persisting over two weeks.  Unlike complicated grief, most cases of depression have no primary source of loss, although depression can coincide with an already existing loss and amplify it.

Causes of Depression

Depression is a mental disorder that is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Depression can be caused by a number of factors, including genetic predisposition, brain chemistry, life events, and medical conditions.  It could be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, it could be due to stressful life events, or it could be a combination of both. Depression is also often hereditary, so if you have a family member who suffers from depression, you may be more likely to experience it yourself.

Treatment for Depression

Depression is a serious mental illness that affects millions of people around the world. While there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for depression, there are many effective treatments available. These include medication, psychotherapy, and self-care strategies. Medication can be an effective treatment for depression, especially when used in combination with psychotherapy. Commonly prescribed medications for depression include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and mood stabilizers.

Conclusion

Depression can affect all genders and ages.  It can be caused by numerous factors but usually has no true source in itself.  The feelings of despair and loss of hope are more general than acute and persist for over 2 weeks.  There are a variety of physical and mental symptoms.  It is important to note that Grief Counselors that are not Licensed Professional Counselors cannot treat depression.  While Prolonged Grief can seem to appear as depression, it is a different disorder, hence it is extremely important to have an accurate diagnosis if one has some type of depression in order to receive the necessary counseling and medication that may be needed.

Please also review The American Academy of Grief Counseling’s, Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification as a Grief Counselor.

Additional Resources

“What distinguishes prolonged grief disorder from depression?”. Pål Kristensen, Kari Dyregrov, Atle Dyregrov.  November 16th, 2022. Tidsskr Nor Legeforen 2017. 137: 538-9.  Access here

“Complicated Grief vs. Depression”. Tim Jewell. December 8th, 2017. Healthline. Access here

“Conditions Related to Depression”. Julie Davis.  July 17th, 2021. WebMD. Access here

“Teen depression”. Mayo Clinic. Access here

 

 

 

 

Trauma and Intimacy Video

Intimacy is something that is very delicate in life.  Humans choose very few to become intimate with and it involves a central ideal of trust.  When that trust is destroyed through trauma, either by the said person or through a stranger via a violent sexual act, then becoming intimate again can become a long journey.  The fears and scars due to trauma prevent the individual from opening up again and hence healing.

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.

 

Please review the video below

Grief Counseling, Happiness and Nonfinite Grief

Human happiness is very subjective and objective.  It is objective in that ultimately, human happiness exists in a state of complete love that can never be taken away.  In this ideal state of happiness, love is ever present and all desires and gains can never be stolen or taken.  Of course, this type of happiness is in impossible in a fallen world.  It is impossible to find love without the haunting thought of loss.  Everything gained, can be taken back.

With this type of fear, objective true happiness can never exist in this fallen world but only parts of it here and there in the present.   Yet, in this search, others turn to even less tenable forms of happiness that pend upon materialism,  fame and success.  These aspects are even more fragile than the objective search of love.   Love, at least true love, exceeds human limits, albeit it can be taken in the temporal world, but material and social sources of happiness are even on more insecure ground.   In themselves, they are not worthy of an end but only means to an end.

Hence, human beings look for happiness in many wrong places and find usually only fleeting moments in happiness, especially if “means” are designed as “ends”.  Human beings will always face tragedy and loss but it is important to understand happiness cannot be found in this world in its complete sense.  So it is extra crucial to place our values and love in only the most important people and ideals. Loss of anything, even the most valued, produces grief, but when value is over placed in only objects, then one opens oneself to greater grief over small things.  This is why it is crucial to understand the importance of attachment to only the most valued ideals or people.  Some would contend this is placing ultimate happiness in God or a form of life philosophy.

Due to human beings seeking happiness in every venue, people experience loss and grief in immaterial and material things.  When these attachment, whether worthy of love or not, are taken from the individual, a sense of dread and grief is experienced.  This type of dread and loss in the search of happiness can also manifest in things that are not tangible or connected to person, but can be losses associated with something that is not even in one’s possession.   Ideas that surround the ideal of happiness in life can also haunt and cause discord and grief in a person.  Unfulfilled dreams,  lack of opportunities, poor life choices, and non touchable ideals that would grant happiness are not found.

Sometimes grief is not tangible but is nonfinite. It lurks in thoughts of a different or better life.

 

The person hence possesses an nonfinite grief.  A gnawing grief that chews upon the person’s existential quest of perfection and happiness.

The article, “Grieving the Life You Expected: Nonfinite Grief and Loss” by Litsa from “What’s Your Grief” explores the many facets of nonfinite grief.  The article explores various schemas of how one wishes a particular life may have turned out and how this can cause discord and sadness in life.  The article continues to look at how one can face infinite grief in life and attempt to find happiness in the life that exists.  The article states, ”

“Nonfinite grief is the grief we feel when we lose these non-tangible things, watching our imagined future dissolve. In Nonfinite Loss and Grief, Bruce and Shultz define the grief that exists when life falls short of our expectations. They say that nonfinite losses are losses “contingent development; the passage of time; and on a lack of synchrony with hopes, wishes, ideals, and expectations”.

“Grieving the Life You Expected: Nonfinite Grief and Loss”. Litsa. October 16th, 2022. What’s Your Grief

To read the entire article, please click here

Commentary

From what we understand then about nonfinite grief, it is not tangible in itself, but is something that exists within the deepest parts of our souls.  It is a discontentment with how life or our trajectory of life has unfolded.  Some may be unware of it, but it is an overall unhappiness sometimes with existence itself.  Wishes, dreams, or what should have been start to play a central role in the life of the person.  This can be a life of the road not taken but also of the road that one wishes would have been available.  Individuals who have heavy crosses to bear, or wish to live a regular life due to an illness or a loved one with a disease. In some ways for those, this becomes similar to secondary losses of opportunity.

Learning to handle this general displeasure with life can be more for others.   Some individuals may carry a different life view.  It is not necessarily based upon how much money someone has or how many cars one owns.  While for some, these material gains may be a measuring stick, for many, we see unhappy wealthy people and very happy poorer people.   Hence it is based upon one’s own convictions and beliefs in what life means and should be.  It is about the ability to cope and adjust.  It is about possessing a world view philosophy or spirituality that guides one through the turbulent waters of life.  Many individuals do not possess an anchor that holds them still in the sea of life and they fall victim to many false faces of happiness.  They find regret and sadness in things and unfulfilled expectations.

Does this mean we should dismiss such general sadness?  While it is important to find a life view that guides a person, it is equally important to help those who do not possess an anchor in life.  Those with anchors can suffer enough, but those without, can find themselves in far more restless situations of unhappiness.

First, it is important never to dismiss any type of negative emotion.  Why someone is unhappy needs to be addressed and validated.  “Whats Your Grief” discusses that many schemas in life do not turn out how one wanted one’s life to turn out.  For example, someone who always envisioned a family and children, who never married or had children can live an empty life.  Others who envision a successful career but are struggling due to the market may also find displeasure with life.  So, the life or road not travelled can become a painful reminder about the current life itself.

It is OK to mourn the life you do not have.  It is OK to look and see what is currently wrong in the existing life.  This is important for a variety of reasons.  First, it is critical to acknowledge feelings so they do not gnaw at oneself from the inside.  Second, reflection leads to real change and adaptation.  While not everything can be changed in life, there are many things that can be improved or altered in a life style to maybe align oneself more closer to the desired end.

However, in acknowledging these feelings and looking for change, one must also realistically separate fact from fiction.  Certain things may not be able to be changed, or improved.  To be at peace with reality and adjust to the reality is key in finding happiness.  Somethings were not meant to be and when acceptance of that finally occurs, there can a be a peace.  This peace can also lead to alternate opportunities.   Furthermore, one does not need to completely despise the existence one possesses in contrast to one’s desired path.  There are good and bad in both viewed existences.

Again, a strong life view, spirituality or philosophy can help anchor an individual with these nonfinite losses and ghosts, but one needs first to understand what matters most in this fallen world.  If one chases objects and worldly things, then grief and loss and discontentment will be a constant in life.   We grieve too much over what matters and what life has given to worry over alternate losses.   This again does not mean to denounce or not try to find change if possible.  It does not mean that these feelings do not need validated either, but it does mean, we can reshape our ideas of hope and our own personal identity to fit the existence we have.  We can change what we can but we can also shape the existence we have into something better.

Conclusion

Nonfinite grief is real.  It is the road not traveled.  It is the life not fulfilled.  It is the career never started or the child never had.  It is a life long sadness.  Sometimes it is placed in more valuable pursuits, while other times it is placed upon trivial worldly things.  Regardless, it needs to be validated, understood and utilized to either help with current contentment or adjustment to something better.

Grief Counselors can help the sad of heart validate their feelings regarding “what if” or “how it should have been”, but grief counselors also need to help individuals reshape their identity and hope to the existing situation.  These acknowledgements can help a person fix certain things or at least adjust to the existence that is given and find the good in it.  Again, grief counselors can also help guide individuals to things more worthy of attention and within one’s own control.

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.

Additional Sources

“What Is Happiness?”. Psychology Today Staff. Psychology Today.  Access here

“Intangible grief”. Heather McEwen.  August 25th, 2014. By Heart and Hand.  Access here

“What’s Intangible Loss? Definition + How to Cope”. Dr. Alejandra Vasquez, JD, CT.  May 2nd, 2022. Cake. Access here

“What Is Happiness and Why Is It Important? (+ Definition)”. Courtney Akerman. February 16th, 2019. Positive Psychology.  Access here

 

Grief Counseling Certification Program Blog on Mourning vs Depression

Grief is natural.  Mourning the loss of someone or even something is natural.  There is nothing pathological about mourning yet so many seek to escape the importance of grief and mourning.  Many place it as bad as depression.  Depression in fact is a pathological state that sometimes is not even related to a particular loss.  Understanding healthy mourning and grief is important in contrast to the unnatural state of depression.  Becoming more aware of the difference in these terms is key in grief counseling.

What is the difference between depression and mourning? Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification Program

 

The article, “The Difference Between Mourning and Depression” by Samuel Parker and Mlrlam Arond looks at the differences between mourning and depression.  The article states,

“Many people are confused about how to distinguish between “normal” grieving and depression that needs to be treated. After all, mourning a loss, especially of a child, spouse, parent, or close friend, is bound to elicit deep feelings of sadness and regret. It is natural that everyday routines are disrupted and things that may have previously been important suddenly seem less so. And the loss of a loved one is not something that, as Presley notes, is ever forgotten.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.

Grief Counseling Certification Blog on the Basics of Grief Counseling

Grief Counseling can help individuals face grief.  While most grieve within normal parameters without complications in grief, many still need help to better learn how to incorporate their grief into life.   Grief Counselors can play roles in helping individuals place grief within one’s life narrative and respond to the emotions that erupt in grief.  They can also help individuals respond better to issues that may arise cognitively to poor and unhelpful coping methods.  Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification

Grief Counselors can help the bereaved process grief properly. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification

 

It is important to note that Grief Counseling itself is not regulated by the state and hence anyone can become certified.  AIHCP only certifies qualified individuals into grief counseling that have some medical, social, or behavioral background.  Whether through a professional licensure or degree, AIHCP screens all potential grief counselors.  However, it is important to note, that Grief Counselors that are certified may not be licensed counselors or social workers.  With this in mind, if not licensed, grief counselors can only help individuals with basic loss and grief absent of pathology or depression.  It is best that a non licensed grief counselor work under or with appropriate professionals or organizations.

The article, “Grief Counseling: How It Works, Benefits And More” by Lauren Silva takes a closer look at Grief Counseling and its very nature.  She states,

“Grief is a normal response to loss, and the feeling can arise due to the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, losing your home and a whole host of other life events. Everyone grieves differently. For some, grief impacts the ability to function in daily life, while others can continue on with less interruption. Wherever you might be in your grieving process, support can be found through counseling, which can help you work through grief and heal in a healthier way. Learn more below about the different types of grief, what grief counseling entails and how you might benefit from trying it.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Some individuals will greatly benefit from grief counseling.  Individuals with more complications within the grieving process, or additional issues may find it helpful, while also others with less family and social support to help them.  Grief Counseling can better help individuals better process the grief and learn to live with the loss in a more healthy fashion.  No grief counselor can ever replace the loss, or make the grief go away, but a grief counselor can help one better learn to live with loss and find value in life after that loss.

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals in the healthcare, ministry, counseling, pastoral care, and funeral professions who are interested in a four year certification in Grief Counseling.

Grief Counseling Certification Blog on Tracee Dunblazier’s Book “Transformative Grief”

Tracee Dunblazier GC-C with the American Academy of Grief Counseling has presented to the grieving world both personal and academic an excellent and thorough text on grieving.

In her book, “Transformative Grief: An Ancient Ritual for Healing in Modern Times”, Dunblazier presents an up to date and thorough look at grieving in modern life.  She presents all of the necessary information behind the science of grieving but also expands and illustrates its impact in the modern world.

Grief is transformative but one must understand the nature of grief and loss to properly transform. Please also review Tracee Dunblazier’s new book

 

There is extensive information on the basic types of grief, the grieving process, healing and implementing grief into one’s existence.  She also explores issues in grieving that lead to complications.  In addition, she elaborates on examples of grief found in the modern world, ranging from recent wars to 911.   Ultimately, Dunblazier looks to unlock the mystery of grief and help individuals properly face grief and loss in a healthy way.  Understanding that grief, loss and dying and death are parts of life itself in an imperfect world is a critical element of her work.

She states,

“Transformative Grief is the embodiment of the profound collision of Heaven and Earth through humanity—alchemizing and empowering us by divulging the truth
on every level. As we shed our illusions about grief and sorrow as being detrimental to our health or being more powerful than we are, we will open to the beauty
of accessing our strength from the deepest recesses of our mind, body, and spirit through grief. Beginning on the day of our birth, we have each been seeded with spiritual
information that will be revealed by grief throughout our lives. It is our willingness to process daily these subtle ebbs and flows of emotion that guarantees the removal of energy that is unnecessary for us to harbor, and to disclose what is valuable for us moving forward.”

To review this her text, please click here

Tracee Dunblazier’s work touches the important aspects of grief and loss while reminding everyone that grief is not something to be avoided or denied.  It is far from a pathology, but indeed a natural reaction to loss itself.  It has the power to transform and change oneself.  Learning to incorporate loss in life hence is an important skill in living itself.

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.

We here at AIHCP congratulate Tracee Dunblazier, GC-C on her comprehensive work and achievement and pray it will help many others learn to incorporate loss properly into their lives.
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Grief Counseling Certification Blog on Facing a Terminal Diagnosis

Upon a worrisome visit to the doctor, eventually in one’s life, one will come to the grips of existential crisis, where one must deal with a life or death illness, or hear the terrifying words, that one is dying.  For some, these words come earlier in life, for many, later, and for some, death can come like a thief in the night.  Those who are granted the ominous warning are given a blessing and a curse.  A blessing to prepare oneself and others, to put things right and affairs in order, but also a curse in knowing the clock is fearfully clicking to a deadline that is unavoidable. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification.

There is a myriad of emotions and feelings that one goes through when a terminal illness is announced.  An existential reality of one’s own finite nature is made rawly known to the intellect.  What was once considered an abstract but real concept suddenly becomes personal and intimate.  One comes to the conclusion that death will concretely and definitely happen.  It is no longer a future imaging of how but becomes a concrete concept of now and here.  Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Courses

A terminal diagnosis brings oneself to one’s final chapter in life. It is a scary time but there are ways to face death. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification

 

How one perceives life and existence itself plays a large role in the existential dread of this bad news.  Levels of fear and anxiety are measured and varied in regards to one’s own existential beliefs.   Someone who is profoundly convinced of life after death and molded by an undying faith, may feel a sense of fear, but also a sense of hope and reward, while one who holds empiric and only observable phenomenon as a basis for existence, may feel a deeper dread of creeping into nothingness.   Some individuals are less attached to the temporal reality and are able to sense a stronger sense of purpose and peace beyond the observable world.  Those of this deeper faith, whether rightly placed or not, will react quite differently to the bad news of approaching death than one of lesser or no faith.

Fear of the unknown still exists even if in the smallest grain to the faithful.   So naturally, the evolutionary push to exist when challenged will spring forth within the soul a type of fear.   The fear of the unknown still exists for those of faith, but the levels of fear that may surround one who is terminally ill, differs greatly in intensity.   One of faith upon the announcement of bad news will definitely still feel a sense of fear and be forced to reckon with the unknowable.   This type of fear is a natural reaction.  Since one’s conception, the urge to exist is programmed within the body.  The urge remains a strong driving force.

For those facing death, a general fear may also be replaced with a more acute fear of the now.  Fear of sharing this news, or keeping it to oneself.  Fear of the disease itself and what this particular disease may do to one’s body during the final phases.  Oneself may fear the pain, the treatments, the side effects and quality of life or even the fear of leaving family and children without one’s guidance and protection.   Obviously these are grounded fears to one who has come to a firm acceptance.  While initially one may be swarmed with questions and options, one may soon find oneself consumed with collecting as much information about the disease or condition,  understanding pain management or reviewing various extraordinary measures to preserve life. Understanding the enemy can sometimes qualm some fear and even give a glimpse of hope.  One finds oneself with more power over fear when one faces the enemy across oneself.   Some individuals face the enemy, while others choose to live in fear and hide from it.  One in the end accepts how they will face death, either with a strong will, or a broken one.  Accepting death but facing it with a strong will despite fear is the true definition of courage.

Due to this natural fear of death, even among the most spiritual and religious, one when faced with this terrible thought will undoubtedly deny it.  Elisabeth Kubler Ross who worked with the terminally ill observed this natural human reaction to reject bad news initially.   Something so frightful at first refuses to be processed by the brain.  Bad news is met with an equally powerful rejection of it.   As one receives this bad news then, one will probably initially reject the sentence of death.  How long this reality takes to sink in may differ among some.  Some may seek additional medical opinions, until all options are removed.  Others will proceed with elaborate alternative therapies in hope of a cure.   For some, hope can be a evolutionary device for survival.  It definitely is not something to rejected but when hope blinds oneself to such an extent that is masquerading as denial, then it can become problematic to oneself and prevent oneself from dealing with the reality of death.

Death itself is a process that many run and flee from.  Evolution to survive engrains this feeling into oneself.  Yet, if one stops and realizes that death is a process one must face, then maybe one can allow oneself the process of dying properly.  Many cultures value a good death.  A good death is as part of life as birth.  Dying well, handling oneself well and maintaining dignity is critical to the last chapter.  Long term denial strips one the opportunity to handle affairs, repair relations, prepare the mind body and soul and live the final chapters.  So, absolutely, upon terminal diagnosis, one will feel fear and denial and this is OK.  What one does not wish to continue to entertain is a long term denial.   Hope should not be squashed, but denial should not be masked as hope either.

Oneself may think if one ignores the horrible diagnosis that it will go away.  For this reason alone many in denial, may keep a terminal diagnosis as a secret from friends and family.   One will ignore checkups and important procedures and postpone wills and other critical business at hand.   These types of secrets are part of denial at its core.  Oneself may feel as if one is sparing others grief, but this type of internalization of bad news only denies the reality and creates less time for others to express love and accept reality.

Following this diagnosis, other emotions may erupt within oneself.  As Kubler Ross points out in her famous stages of grief, one experiences far more than denial upon the initial announcement of bad news.   One will experience also a range of emotions with the first minutes or days or weeks or months.   Anger is a powerful emotion that may erupt.  One may find oneself angry at God, or others.  One may feel one’s life has been stolen or cut short.  Others may become jealous of others who were granted better health.   Again, in grief, one cannot deny these initial feelings, but understand them and see where this anger comes from.   While one may feel like they may be treated unfairly, one cannot allow anger to turn into envy and become caustic within one’s very being.  There is little time left with a terminal illness and negative emotions and negative energies while acknowledged should not be permitted to fester, unless one wishes for the soul to also suffer with the body.

With the lamenting of death, some will feel greater melancholy.  How long one grieves the impending loss of life, like fear itself, varies upon the spiritual nature and resilient nature of oneself.   One should clearly come into contact with the sadness of loss of one’s physical life, but again, like anger, it is important to evaluate the emotion within its proper degree.   Some may go into a deep depression or no longer wish to live.  Oneself may recede to the shadows well before the date of death.   When sadness of this level overtakes oneself, then one must realize that the diagnosis is now taking more life than it originally took before.  The intense grief is taking what is left.  It is stealing the final days of sunshine, family memories and expression of love.

With such deep emotions, sometimes it may be good to express these feelings.  Some may find solace in their family and friends, but others may feel a fear to cause them more pain.  While this is noble, in many ways, family and friends wish to help one carry this cross.  Oneself should not feel isolated to the point where one has none to share the fear and emotions of dying.  An additional option is finding others in support groups or other social venues where others of like diagnosis can meet and share emotional fears and acute physical symptoms.  A good balance between sharing with family and other like diagnosed individuals can play a great tool in helping one face the emotions of one’s diagnosis.

Kubler Ross pointed out that many may also bargain. As if one has a final say with the grim reaper, oneself may feel the need to negotiate with the angel of death.  This sense of powerlessness is lessened with bargaining and creates an illusion as if oneself can negotiate the final days.   Oneself may ask, if I can only have an extra year, or have only this procedure instead the other procedures.  This illusion of power and control over death is merely another way oneself may try to create one’s own ending.   Instead of focusing on “ifs”, oneself should focus on the realities and what can be done within the time given.  Less time bargaining and more time doing is a far better way to accept the angel of death.

How will you face the angel of death and one’s own existential reality when the time comes? Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification

 

Upon this terrifying news of one’s own impending death, one can react in a multitude of ways, intellectually and emotionally, but while no emotion is initially to be ignored, there is clearly a better way to face death.   It is up to you, the person facing the terminal illness, how you will face the final chapter in your life and no-one else but you can author that chapter.

If you would like to learn more about death and dying, or about AIHCP’s certification programs in Grief Counseling and Pastoral Thanatology, then please review AIHCP’s online programs.  The Grief Counseling Certification and Pastoral Thanatology Certification Programs are both online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification.

 

 

Additional Reading

Elizabeth Kubler Ross Stages of Dying.  Please click here

10 Practical Tasks to Help You Deal With a Terminal Illness” by Chris Raymond

Terminal Illness : What To Expect” from Mantra Care

Terminal illness: Supporting a terminally ill loved one” from the Mayo Clinic

Dealing With Terminal Illness” from the Charity Clinic

 

 

Grief Counseling Program Blog on Anticipatory Grief

When dealing with a terminally ill relative or friend, one awaits the fearful end.  This type of dread is referred to as Anticipatory Grief.  It sometimes can rob one of the present moment and prevent one from experiencing what is left.  It is natural to cry and grieve over a prognosis that robs one of the future with a loved one but it is also important to help the loved one through the process and experience the grief together.  Living in the present is so important to make good of what time is left.   When this type of grief pushes one away from the present, or makes the terminally already dead, or keeps you from visiting the person, then it can become something very bad.  Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Program

When awaiting a loss it can become like loss itself. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification

 

The article, “Anticipatory Grief: How I’m Learning to Stop Grieving People Before They Die” by Neeha Maqsood looks closer at how one experiences grief as they await a loss.  She states,

“I will always struggle with anticipatory grief until the real moment comes, but I know not to ruminate over experiences I cannot control. What I can control are my thoughts, and instead of feeling guilty over it, I tell my mind that it’s okay to feel frightened and isolated over these thoughts. But I will also try to tell it to live in the present as much as it can – to laugh, eat, argue, and care for my father, as much as he cared for me when I was young.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.

Grief Counseling Certification Blog on Animal Grief

Animals grieve but they grieve differently than humans.  This is common sense because human beings are sentient.  With sentience comes an understanding of existing or not existing in its more philosophical form.  Being mindful of the cosmos, life and death, even without experiencing death is an attribute of sentient beings.  Humans can understand what death means and understand what it means not to be.  This existential awareness intensifies one’s grief when death occurs.

Animals can experience grief but lack a human understanding of death. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification

 

Animals do experience grief but on a much smaller scale.  Animal grief is based off experience and reaction.  While the animal understands non functionality of the another, it still does not fully grasp the core concept of existence vs non existence.   They may miss, mourn, but the deeper forms of existential grief do not exist.  In some ways this may be a blessing. Ignorance is may be bliss, but due to sentience human beings are equipped with a deeper understanding of the universe, existence itself and death.  Understanding death itself is a burden humanity carries alone on earth.

The article, “What Does Animal Grief Tell Us About How They Understand Death?” by Justin Gregg looks deeper at how animals mourn but also their limitations in fully understanding the existential nature of death.  He states,

“It’s important to understand, however, that just because a dolphin can recognize death, it does not mean she understands her own mortality. Or that all living things must die. These are two additional levels of understanding that nonhuman animals lack. According to Monsó, “a very sophisticated notion of personal mortality also incorporates the notions of inevitability, unpredictability, and causality.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.

Grief Counseling Certification Blog on Certified Grief Counselors

Everyone experiences loss.  It is part of human existence to lose.  One of the scariest realities is that no matter how happy we may one day be, what we have will one day be taken.   Any family member we love, will one day die, or any object we cherish, we can one day lose or have it stolen.  This is the precarious situation of life itself.  Understanding loss and how we adjust to it is hence very important.   Loss is the price of love and attachment hence grief is unavoidable.  Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification Program

A certified grief counselor can help with basic loss. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification

 

Individuals eventually need help with coping over loss.  Some individuals experience greater loss than others and turn to help.  Certified grief counselors can help with basic loss and licensed counselors can offer more indepth help for complications in grief.   Grief Support groups can also help aide for those seeking answers to the mystery of love and loss.

The article, “Turning to Grief Counseling When You Need Help” by Melissa Porrey looks at how grief counselors can help with a variety of grief issues.  She states,

“If you are unsure whether you are experiencing grief or finding it challenging to work through bereavement, grief counseling can offer support and helpful ways to bring meaning to the loss and allow you to move forward through your grief.  This article will define grief, provide an overview of grief counseling, and offer ways to find a grief therapist.”

To read the entire article, please click here

If you are looking to help individuals with grief you can also play a role.  Certified grief counselors are professionals in health and mental health fields.  Some are in ministry, or social services.   While not all grief counselors are licensed counselors, many can help with the basics of loss.  AIHCP offers a four year certification in Grief Counseling.  The Grief Counseling Certification is online and independent study and open to those qualified professionals.  Please review and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.