Grief changes and evolves over time. In healthy grieving, the acute intensity and frequent oscillation of moods and emotions lessens. The wound and the loss remains but it is accepted and adjusted to without any pathology. Yes, dates, or memories can push forward emotions and tears, but one is able to function.
Still, as grief proceeds forward, the griever notices multiple changes in life that he or she must adjust to, in addition, to discovering less social and public support of others. As time proceeds, the individual loss becomes more personal and well wishers seem to vanish little by little. It is important to grieve properly throughout the grieving process to avoid potential complications in grief. This is why it is so important to do one’s “grief work”.
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.
Written by Paul J. Moon, Ph.D, M.ED, BA, GC-C, FAAGC,
Grief is a human response to loss. When we sense loss, we can grieve.
Human grief has been referred to as the quintessential mind-body problem (see Genevro et al., 2004 for more), suggesting a holistic impact. As such, when we grieve, various emotions can well up and also fluctuate in us, sometimes drastically, unpredictably, surprisingly so. When we grieve our sleep cycle can be disturbed: some mourners sleep more than usual while others struggle to rest. We might find ourselves becoming easily (and uncharacteristically) irritated, confused, or forgetful. When we grieve we may even get tired of being around people (or certain people) at times. In grief, we can crave solitude and find some solace in being alone, being quiet. On the other hand, some of us in grief may prefer to have company more often than less.
Of course, there is sorrow and sadness that accompany grief. Sadness may involve tearfulness, but not always. We may also have our appetite to teeter: some of us may tend to overeat when in grief distress, while others of us go on a ‘hunger strike’, as it were. Moreover, our immune system can be weakened for a span of time, making us feel sapped of energy and vulnerable to illnesses. All these can be a part of grief.
Strangely enough, for some mourners, there can also be a sense of relief in the midst of sorrow. This can be a bit unsettling as it doesn’t feel like it fits with what grief ‘ought’ to be like. But sensing relief amid the pain of loss can be a part of grief. Human grief is rather complex.
Now, there’s a particularly important point to consider, and that is regarding individual differences. This means that not all human beings share identical grief responses. This makes sense as it is the individual who grieves: grieving is never separate from the individual-person who is enduring loss. As no two persons are precisely alike, grief, too, will be experienced differently to varying degrees from person to person.
So why is the point of personal differences so important to keep in mind? It is because we must take care to not judge another person’s grief experience. Pain (whether physical, psychological, or spiritual in nature) is a terribly personal – subjective – matter. There is no way I can truly know another person’s grief pain, just as there is no way for me to expect another person to truly know the grief pain that rages inside of me. It’s hard enough to really know one’s own grief, let alone know someone else’s. So being patient with other grievers is a virtue. It is a virtue we can only hope others would exercise towards us when we are grieving.
Dr. Paul Moon is an instructor with AIHCP and you can review all of his credentials at the following link: Access here.
Genevro, J. L., Marshall, T., Miller, T., & Center for the Advancement of Health. (2004). Report on bereavement and grief research. Death Studies, 28(6), 491–491.
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. These programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification.
Positivity is important to resilience but it can also become a toxin to grief response. Bad situations need to be acknowledged. Things cannot be sugar coated as OK when someone is experiencing loss. Positive lines or ways to make things appear better when they are not are detrimental to healing. It fails to acknowledge the loss or trauma and help individuals face the issue.
Hence there is a balance when positivity is a good thing and when it is not. Grief Counselors need to recognize this when helping others cope with grief and loss.
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.
Many individuals experience depression at different levels. Some have less intensity, while others may have different coping abilities. High Functioning Depression refers to someone who experiences depression but is still able to complete daily tasks. Many hide the depression due to political or professional status. Others exhibit changes in personality at work or home, being more irritable or unable to partake in social events beyond work or chores. Some may resort to drinking or drugs to mask the symptoms.
Although they are able to function, it does not mean they are not dealing with an emotional issue that needs treatment. Family and friends are usually needed to recognize the symptoms and help the person find the aid the person needs.
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification 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
Creating lasting bonds with our senior loved ones is a precious gift that can bring joy, comfort, and a sense of connection. As our loved ones grow older, their memories become powerful vessels of their identity and life experiences. Building meaningful memories with them not only enriches our own lives but also preserves their legacy for future generations.
In this article, we will explore the magic of memory-making and provide a range of ideas to help you create lasting bonds with your senior loved ones. From exploring family history to embracing shared hobbies, and even leveraging technology to connect across distances, these activities will nurture and strengthen the relationships you have with your senior loved ones, ensuring that their stories and presence continue to shape your lives. Join us on this journey of cultivating memory-making magic and building cherished moments that will be treasured for years to come.
Create a family tree
Many seniors love to talk about their heritage and remember family members and stories from their past. Collecting old family photos and documents and putting them together into a family tree or album is a great way to help them maintain a visual record of their family history. Not only is this a way to preserve memories, but it also creates an opportunity for seniors to share stories about their family members and provide a sense of connection to their past.
Go down memory lane with music
Our memories are often tied to sounds and music. Seniors have been exposed to different music styles throughout their lifetime, and revisiting songs from their youth or favorite era can help them recall and relive past experiences. Compile a playlist of their favorite tunes and listen together or attend concerts or local music events that feature their preferred genre. Not only is this a fun activity, but it is also great for sparking conversation and reminiscing about old memories.
Document their life story
Recording a senior loved one’s life story allows you to honor their legacy and commemorate their achievements. It also allows them to reflect on their past, share their experiences, and impart any wisdom they have gained through their life journey. You can create a written or audio biography or even a video of your loved one’s life story to share with future generations and keep as a cherished family keepsake.
Take a trip down memory lane
Taking a walk or driving around your loved one’s old neighborhood or town can help them remember and share stories about their past. Visiting landmarks or restaurants from their youth can trigger memories and bring back old feelings of nostalgia. This can also be a great way to discover new and interesting details about their past that might not have previously been shared.
Cook and share family recipes
Food has a way of bringing people together and eliciting fond memories. Cooking traditional family recipes with senior loved ones or passing down their favorite recipes to younger generations is a great way to create generational ties and share stories about family traditions. It is also an opportunity for seniors to impart their culinary expertise and pass along their tips and techniques to future generations.
Share a hobby
Engaging in activities together can help build stronger bonds between family members. Sharing a hobby or activity that your senior loved one enjoys can also provide an opportunity for them to teach you something new, allowing you to learn from their expertise and experience. Whether it’s gardening, crafting, origami, or playing a game of cards, taking the time to participate in the things they love can help create lasting memories.
Explore new interests
It’s never too late to try something new. Discovering new activities and interests together can be a fun and rewarding experience for seniors and their loved ones. It can be a dance class, learning a new language, or taking up painting. The key is to find things that are interesting and accessible to seniors that can also encourage physical exercise, social interaction, and mental stimulation.
Volunteering together is an excellent way to give back to the community while also spending quality time with your senior loved ones. You might volunteer at a local food bank, hospital, or animal shelter, or sign up for a community event or charity walk. This type of shared activity can be fulfilling and can provide many opportunities to connect with seniors and create lasting memories.
Attend cultural events
Attending cultural events with senior loved ones can be a great way to connect with different traditions and learn more about their heritage. This includes playing traditional music, attending community events, visiting museums, or even attending religious celebrations. It is also an opportunity for seniors to share their cultural traditions and help younger generations appreciate different ways of life.
Celebrate birthdays and milestones
Celebrating birthdays and other milestones is an essential way to create lifelong memories with seniors. You can organize a special party, bake a cake, or even make a scrapbook to commemorate important milestones. It is always a good idea to let seniors know how much they are valued and appreciated.
Technology can also play a crucial role in connecting with senior loved ones who live overseas or far away. Using screen recording software can be a practical way to preserve conversations and interactions with them. By recording video calls or screen-sharing sessions, you can capture precious moments and ensure that none of the memories shared are lost. To preserve these videos without occupying excessive storage space, consider using a video compressor, which can reduce file sizes without compromising the quality of the content. MP4 compressors can easily help you store and share these videos with other family members, ensuring that the memories made with overseas grandparents are cherished and accessible for years to come.
Building lasting bonds with senior loved ones requires time, effort, and a willingness to listen, learn, and share. Though communication can be challenging, taking the time to understand their life experiences and perspectives can help create meaningful memories and lasting connections. By using these ideas as a starting point, you can create memory-making magic that will ensure your senior loved ones’ legacies are cherished for generations to come.
Ron is from VEED. He is a passionate content marketer with a wealth of knowledge in the online space. His curiosity and enthusiasm led to the development of a constantly expanding portfolio that includes anything from video editing services to publishing his original creations on top-notch websites.
Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Certification program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. These programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification.
Depression is on the rise and it is not cheap. While loneliness and the post pandemic world wrestle with the mental health issues that have added, individuals are beginning to see the rising cost of depression. While only world wide, 5 percent suffer from depression, it still costs the world economy over 1 trillion dollars. Also, for every dollar, it is important to note that additional funds go towards negative ways of coping.
The article, “Depression is costing the global economy a ‘profound’ $1 trillion per year, warns U.S. Surgeon General” by Alexa Mikhail takes a closer look at these stats and how it is costing the global economy. He states,
“As health officials continue to sound the alarm on the growing loneliness epidemic, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy says the prevalence of depression is closely linked. Loneliness and social isolation increase the risk for mental health problems, including depression. About 280 million people—or 5% of adults globally—have depression, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).”
“Depression is costing the global economy a ‘profound’ $1 trillion per year, warns U.S. Surgeon General”. Mikhail, A. (2023). FortuneWell.
In the United States, the cost for depression is over 250 million alone and it continues to rise as more become depressed through the years. What is causing this? Many blame loneliness. Some blame the pandemic as well. Regardless, investment needs to be put into helping individuals cope better with loss and if depressed, find the right help and learn how to cope and find healing. Remaining permanently dependent on medication is not the answer for everyone either. Some severe cases may need long term, but those with minor cases need coping as well to balance the issue within the mind. The high cost of pharmaceutical drugs is astounding and depression is only aspect of it. In addition anxiety, OCD, ADHD and other minor disorders are constantly treated rising the price globally.
So in essence, it is important to find the reason why depression is increasing, treat it more cost effectively and help people return to normal with stronger coping mechanisms.
Healthcare expenses related to mental health
One of the primary financial costs of mental health is the healthcare expenses associated with diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing care. Mental health services, including therapy, medication, and hospitalization, can be prohibitively expensive for many individuals and families. Insurance coverage for mental health varies widely, with some plans offering limited coverage or high out-of-pocket costs. As a result, individuals often face significant financial strain when seeking the help they need.
Moreover, the lack of accessible and affordable mental healthcare options exacerbates the financial burden. Limited availability of mental health providers, especially in rural areas, means that individuals may have to travel long distances or pay exorbitant fees for specialized care. This further contributes to the hidden costs of mental health.
Lost productivity and economic impact
Another significant financial cost of mental health is the loss of productivity in the workforce. Mental health conditions can lead to decreased work performance, absenteeism, and even long-term disability. According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, depression and anxiety disorders alone cost the global economy over $1 trillion in lost productivity each year.
Employers also bear the financial burden of mental health issues among their workforce. They face increased healthcare costs, decreased productivity, and higher turnover rates. Additionally, the stigma surrounding mental health often leads to a reluctance among employees to seek help, resulting in prolonged suffering and further financial strain.
The cost of untreated mental health conditions
Unaddressed mental health conditions can have severe consequences, both for individuals and society. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, these conditions often worsen over time, leading to increased healthcare costs and reduced quality of life. The cost of untreated mental health conditions extends beyond the individual, affecting families, communities, and the economy as a whole.
Individuals with untreated mental health conditions are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, which further compounds the financial burden. The costs associated with addiction treatment, legal issues, and lost productivity due to substance abuse can be astronomical.
Financial burden on individuals and families
The financial burden of mental health falls heavily on individuals and their families. The cost of therapy sessions, medication, and other treatments can quickly add up, straining budgets and depleting savings. In some cases, individuals may be forced to choose between paying for mental healthcare and meeting other basic needs, such as housing or food.
Furthermore, the impact of mental health on employment can lead to job loss, reduced income, or increased healthcare expenses. This creates a cycle of financial instability and stress, exacerbating the mental health condition and making it even more challenging to seek help.
The role of insurance coverage in managing mental health costs
Insurance coverage plays a crucial role in managing the financial costs of mental health. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, passed in the United States in 2008, requires insurance plans to provide equal coverage for mental health and substance abuse services. However, despite this legislation, many individuals still face significant barriers to accessing affordable mental healthcare.
Employers can play a vital role in ensuring comprehensive mental health coverage for their employees. Offering robust insurance plans that prioritize mental health services and provide adequate coverage can help alleviate the financial burden on individuals and families. Additionally, advocacy for broader insurance coverage for mental health treatments can contribute to a more inclusive and supportive healthcare system.
Strategies for reducing the financial burden of mental health
Addressing the hidden financial costs of mental health requires a multi-faceted approach. Here are some strategies that can help reduce the burden:
Early intervention and prevention: Investing in early intervention programs and preventive measures can help identify and address mental health issues before they escalate. By providing accessible and affordable mental healthcare at the early stages, individuals can receive timely support, reducing the need for more extensive and costly treatments later on.
Education and awareness: Raising awareness about mental health and destigmatizing seeking help is crucial. By promoting understanding and empathy, society can create an environment where individuals feel comfortable seeking treatment, reducing the financial burden associated with untreated conditions.
Integration of mental health into primary care: Integrating mental health services into primary care settings can improve access and reduce costs. By offering mental health screenings and treatments in the same setting as physical health care, individuals can receive holistic care that addresses all aspects of their well-being.
Community support and resources: Communities can play a vital role in supporting individuals with mental health conditions. By establishing support groups, providing resources, and fostering a sense of belonging, communities can help reduce the financial burden on individuals and families.
Conclusion: Investing in mental health for a healthier and wealthier society
The financial costs of mental health are often hidden behind the emotional and psychological toll that these conditions take on individuals and their loved ones. However, addressing these costs is essential for creating a healthier and wealthier society. By investing in accessible and affordable mental healthcare, promoting early intervention and prevention, and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health, we can alleviate the financial burden on individuals, families, and communities. It is time to recognize and prioritize mental health as an integral part of overall well-being and work towards a future where everyone has equal access to the support they need.
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification. Grief Counselors can better help individuals cope with loss and take workload from LPCs and other necessity of medicative needs. While certified Grief Counselors can only help with basic loss and not depression or more severe maladies, they can play a key role in helping those suffering. Some Grief Counselors are also LPC’s though and with a certification in Grief Counseling can confidently help those with depression.
“The Economic Cost of Depression is Increasing; Direct Costs are Only a Small Part”. (2021). American Psychiatric Association. Access here
“How Much Does Depression Cost?”. Cherney, K. (2020). Healthline. Access here
“The Costs of Depression”. Kessler, R. (2012). National Library of Medicine. Access here
“Depression Cost the US $326 Billion Per Year Pre-Pandemic, a 38% Increase Since 2010”. (2021). Cision. Access here
After the birth of a child, it should be a celebratory time, but for some, postpartum depression can strip one of the joy of a newborn and as well limit one in the new responsibilities of infant care. If symptoms persist for longer than a week, it is important to contact a mental health care professional who better help one with diagnosis and proper steps to correct the issue. Primarily a woman issue, men can also fall victim to it, so it is important that partners watch each other after the following days of child birth to ensure each are properly coping with excitement but also stress that comes with a new born child.
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.
Please also review AIHCP’s video on Postpartum Depression
It is often said, funerals are for the living, the dead no longer need anything. Funerals, wakes, and other cultural forms of communal grieving are all essential elements in helping individuals grieve the loss of a loved one. It is a coming together where individuals can express sympathy and acknowledge the loss. Research shows that cultures that emphasize communal grieving usually have far less prolonged grief disorders when the loss itself is not complicated.
Hence, funerals and wakes play a critical role in the bereavement process for the living. While religious beliefs hold firm that these events are also spiritual and prayers are offered for the dead in the afterlife, the psychological implications of mental health for the living are obvious and clear. The article, “Funerals: Study shows Irish wakes may help more with grief” by Matt Fox looks at how such communal events during grief help a higher percentage of individuals avoid complications in grief. In regards to Irish wakes and grieving, he states,
The authors of the research, which has been published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress. said that “cultural differences with regard to death may be an explanatory factor” to the reduced levels of the disorder in Ireland. “For example, in Ireland, it is customary to hold a wake (i.e., social gathering prior to a funeral) during which family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues and acquaintances can come to pay their respects and support the bereaved,” the authors said.”
“Funerals: Study shows Irish wakes may help more with grief”. Fox, M. (2023). BBC News.
On the surface one may only spiritual needs of the deceased being met. From a religious standpoint, prayers are offered for the deceased. In Christianity, a solemn service of memorial and prayers is completed after prior to burying with ritual prayers said at the grave site. Other Christian denominations, such as Catholicism, offers a Funeral Mass for the soul of the deceased as well. In other cultures, days of prayer are also offered. In Hinduism, there are a series of days with various rituals to prepare the soul for the transmigration into the afterlife in finding a new vessel. So the importance of the funeral and wake are still very spiritual for the deceased, but again from a psychological standpoint, the memorial of life, the gathering, and the funeral itself is very much for the living.
In various cultures, intense periods of grieving are granted to the deceased. Within Judaism, there is a series of days of grieving assigned for the family. Other cultures have similar days of mourning. Some cultures have very loud and mournful events where crying and waling is encouraged, while other cultures remain more reserved. As seen above, the Irish themselves offer a wake prior to the funeral instead of merely after it. The article by Fox, emphasizes the importance of how communal events that emphasize grief outwardly and permit individuals to express it are far more healthy in the long run. Cultures, as well as individuals families, that express grief communally and come together have a far less chance of experiencing prolonged grief or even depression.
The Wake and Funeral
The wake and funeral is not only an expression of sadness for the entire family and a social expression of it, but it also aids the family in accepting the reality. Many individuals may be in denial. The funeral, calling hours, or wake give these individuals the ability to witness and come to terms with the reality of the death. The funeral itself is the exclamation mark of the true end of one’s earthly life. It verifies, it seals and ends all debate. The person is no longer with us. This permits individuals to accept but also find consolation with others in expressing the grief and pain.
In addition, the communal event permits others to cry together and to be there for each other. Instead of grieving alone, one finds solace with others. Others who may be experiencing a harder time are given the care and attention they need at the funeral. The mutual support benefits all parties involved. While its fine to celebrate the life of the deceased, it is important not to negate the mourning aspect with an overt toxic positivity. Many events celebrate and remember. Remembrance is definitely part of it. It is also an important part of the entirety of the process in accepting the death.
It also gives recognition to the person. It shows the love for that person. This creates a sense of happiness in a way to see how many loved the deceased. It can give comfort to the mourning that their closest loved one was treasured and loved by so many. It is good to see how the deceased was so beneficial and important to so many other people. This is especially beautiful for veterans, when the flag covers the casket and the shots are fired to the sound of a trumpet.
Funerals are for the Everyone
The misnomer that children should not attend a funeral is finally being dismissed as a myth. Children should also be able to express their grief and witness the finality of a person’s life during a wake and funeral. They can express their feelings, witness the finality, say goodbye, and share their feelings with others. It is an excellent example of life for children to be at a family members funeral.
Funerals again capture the finality of death and help others come to grips, find consolation, and the ability to move forward. For those closest to the deceased, funerals are the first step to a long bereavement. Those not as attached may shed a moment of sadness, but they are able to proceed in life well after the funeral, but for those closest to the deceased, the funeral is only the start of accepting the lost. It helps, but it far from heals the open wound.
Funerals and wakes are key to healthy bereavement. While some families may prefer to postpone it, the event itself, according to studies, helps prevent many prolonged grief disorders. They are mostly important for those who attend to come to grips with the loss. The social setting helps others grieve together.
Those who enter into the human service fields quickly learn that helping individuals is not about necessarily fixing them but more so guiding them and walking with them. It would be so nice to be able to magically make the hurt go away or the problem vanish but the reality is problems never go away in life. Life is about coping and overcoming issues and learning to live with them. So when someone appears with a fix it all approach to life, then that particular someone should be avoided or at least not enter into the helping fields.
Individuals who think a phrase or few words can make someone forget the love of their life, or something extremely important obviously have not loss anything important yet. Sometimes life teaches the hard lessons for those even in the helping professions. Many times, the solution is listening and sojourning, perhaps even offering a few coping strategies, but never is their a solution or a fix to loss or pain in life. When something bad happens, the loss of a family member, the loss of a job, or the loss of a pet, the pain is real. The pain is real because what is lost mattered. No words can fix that except a return to the pre-loss state. In this world, there is no return to the pre-loss state, so one must learn to cope and adjust to the loss. Those in the helping fields, counseling, human services and social work understand that listening, offering solicited advice and sojourning are how one performs one’s professional duty.
When one tries to fix, then one ultimately misses the importance of the loss. When one tries to fix, one obviously has never lost anything oneself. Hence any short cuts or attempts to lessen the loss or invoke recovery goes against the healing process of grief itself. Many well intentioned individuals offer a plentitude of sayings or quotes to help fix, but these rarely help. Professionals know, or at least should know, that there is no magic word to heal loss itself.
One of the quick fixes that many employ is toxic positivity. This type of attitude is toxic because it is not real and does more damage to the griever or mourner. Instead it insults the loss, insults the pain, and ignores the reality. It hopes to make the situation lighter or less extreme but by doing so it becomes a lie. This type of lie stunts healing growth and disenfranchises the loss of the griever. Many times, “grief bullies” a term used in our blogs below, will attempt to enforce a false and toxic positivity or spin on a loss and become irritated when a mourner refuses to accept the silver lining. Hence it is important to identify what toxic positivity is, correct those who utilize it and remove it from anyone’s practice in grief counseling.
The article, “What Is Toxic Positivity?” by Chloe Carmichael looks the problems of toxic positivity not so just from the point of the griever but also the person who may employ it for one’s own life views. She states,
“Toxic positivity can sound like a confusing phrase at first: After all, positivity is supposed to be positive, right? However, just like even something as innocent and healthy-sounding as jogging can become toxic if taken to an extreme, so can positivity. Taken to an extreme, positivity becomes toxic and deprives us of the motivation to make healthy changes that the awareness of a negative, uncomfortable reality would otherwise stimulate us to make”
“What Is Toxic Positivity?”. Carmichael, C. (2021). Psychology Today
When individuals utilize toxic positivity they do so to protect themselves from hurt and pain. They do not wish to face the issue at hand so they attempt to silver coat everything. In doing so, they lose the true reality of life. They create a false veil of happiness. This silver lining attitude is not only false to the life narrative but can have harmful effects on the grieving process. In other cases, individuals may fear to face conflict, or wish to minimize discomfort because they do not wish to offend another person. This keeps many individuals in unhealthy relationships as they create alternative realities not anchored in reality. Many would rather exist in a false reality without conflict or anger. They see anger or emotion as something to be avoided at all costs, even to the point of giving up one’s own happiness.
Those who are trapped in this attitude need reminded gently that it is OK to be true to oneself. It is OK to sometimes express anger, or grief. In fact it is healthy to express these feelings and part of being a human being. Those who resort to avoidance or creating a false narrative harm themselves and also keep themselves trapped in horrible relationships and situations. Individuals need told they can express themselves but also need to be shown sometimes the reality and ugliness of human life and to accept it. By accepting it, one can finally move forward and find true solutions. If the truth is ignored with false positivity, then the problem will never receive the solution it needs.
Again, there are those who are not only victims of their own toxic positivity, but also victims of others hoping to impose their narratives on them. Individuals who try to cheer others up with pithy sayings when individuals are grieving are sharing a form of toxic positivity. The famous saying to make lemonaide when life gives you lemons is healthy advice, but if given in the acute and intense moment of grief, then it is very toxic. It ignores the “lemons”. It is important to acknowledge the “lemons” before one can heal. Others may remark that negativity only begets negativity, but they forget that sometimes one must first acknowledge the negativity before one can heal from it and find positivity. Imposing positivity too soon can be harmful to one’s healing process. Instead of trying to fix or present solutions, simply acknowledge the loss and listen. This is more helpful in the overall healing to a person than trying to fix them with an imposed positivity that is way too soon to help someone heal.
Hence while, “at least he or she…” or “he or she is in a better place” type comments are well intended, they can cause more damage than good. Avoid bully phrases as “good vibes only”, “it could be worse”, or “things happen for a reason” and replace them with ” I am here”, “bad things happen and how can I help”, or ” This must really be hard”.
Positivity is important in life but when it is forced to ignore reality or an issue it can be detrimental. Whether one is trying to sell it or buys it, it needs to be properly utilized. When in acute pain or in a bad situation, it is OK to be sad or mad and it is definitely OK to focus on it. Positive spins on bad situations are not needed when true solutions of facing the issue is needed.\
Please also review AICHP’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 certified grief counselors or anyone in the human service field, remember to be there not to fix a loss but to help one through it via acknowledgement and listening.
“Toxic Positivity—Why It’s Harmful and What to Say Instead”. Cherry, K. (2023). VeryWellMind. Access here
“Toxic Positivity: Definition, Examples And What To Say Instead”. Mona, B. Forbes Health. Access here
“What to know about toxic positivity”. Villines, Z. (2021). Medical News Today. Access here
“How Positivity Can Turn Toxic”. Davis, T. (2022). Psychology Today. Access here
A interesting term gaining momentum in mental health is “high functioning” depression. It is not a new type of depression. Major Depressive Disorder which last up to 2 weeks, or Season Affective Disorder which coincides with the season, or even Persistent Depressive Disorder which is chronic are all major types of depression seen in individuals. Whether one is high functioning or unable to function does not differentiate the type, but it does point out towards a person’s attitude towards being depressed and possibly the intensity of the one experiencing depression.
The article, “High-Functioning Depression: the Symptoms and Treatments” by Paul Wynn takes a closer look at this type of depression. Again, he reiterates that there is no clinical term for high functioning depression but merely more of an attitude towards it. He states,
“The American Psychiatric Association’s official diagnostic handbook does not recognize high-functioning depression as a clinical disorder. It’s also not a common term used among doctors to classify patients; High-functioning depression is one way people talk about having a depressive disorder to friends and family. “When speaking to my patients, I never describe them as a person with high-functioning depression; it’s just not a term we use around the office,” says Dr. Lorenzo Norris, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and chief wellness officer at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C.”
“High-Functioning Depression: the Symptoms and Treatments”. Wynn, P. (2022). US News.
Like any depression, one who experiences it, still faces the basic symptoms. Those with high functioning depression are no different. Individuals suffer from low self esteem, lack of energy, increased irritability, loss of interest, preferred isolation, and overall apathy. The difference is how they manage it and react to it. The ability to still perform tasks, go to school or work, or still manage to be seen, stems more towards the severity of the depression itself, or the attitude towards it. Numerous individuals who still keep functioning despite depression, usually are suffering from a more mild form of Major Depressive Disorder but many also have certain attitudes or feelings towards mental illness.
Some individuals may see mental health as something of a stigma or something to be ignored. They may come from families where mental health issues are a sign of weakness and that individuals should work through their feelings and not permit them to affect their everyday work. These types of individuals may see depression as an excuse or a weakness within character that others employ to escape reality. They do not wish to be seen as weak or unable to cope
This is the case with many in business who feel they cannot be seen as weak or unable to perform tasks. Instead of dealing with the emotions, they bury them and proceed forward. Others may see they do not have the time to be mentally ill and need to focus on tasks and others under their care. Hence an image and responsibility overtakes these types of individuals where they feel the need to hide the emotions, or dismiss them so that they can continue to operate at a high level. These types of individuals may also ignore other health issues, but mental health is definitely something they do not have time to worry about.
Helping Those Who Do Not Want Help
Those around colleagues or family members will see the signs of depression. While the person remains seen, functioning and performing duties, the person still will manifest signs of depression. Increased irritability and lack of patience in daily tasks will mount over time. Disorganization, emotional outbursts and more fatigue may also start to manifest. Maybe, the individual will also express less interest in hobbies, or activities outside of work or school. They may not find interest in things that usually excite them. For this reason, only those closest can truly tell if someone who is high functionally and depressed needs help. Others from a distance will not know the individual well enough to pinpoint the exact issue.
Once something is noticed, the closest within the circle and have an intervention and discuss the issues. This may not be the most pleasant discussion but an emotional inventory needs to be completed. The individual may finally admit to not feeling his or her best and finally admit certain feelings. It is critical to identify these feelings so the person may receive the counseling or medication necessary to prevent further worsening of the condition and mental decline. When individuals ignore mental symptoms of a larger problem, they do not usually disappear but only worsen. This will not only negatively effect the person’s health but also eventually wear down on the ability of the person to function.
High Functioning Depression is not a different type of depression but a type of depression combined with a particular person’s attitudes about mental health. It may have to do some with severity of the depression but it usually has to do with a person’s attitude about mental health or the person’s roles that he or she feels cannot be put to the side. It is hence important for individuals close to the person to help the person realize the importance of finding treatment and educating them on the issues that surround untreated depression itself.
Grief Counselors, as well as licensed counselors can help individuals find the help they need. Grief Counselors can direct clients to licensed therapists who can better help those with any type of depression find the balance and counseling they need to better cope with it. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification 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.
“What is high-functioning depression?”. Coelho, S. (2020). Medical News Today. Access here
“What Is ‘High-Functioning’ Depression?”, Gupta, S. (2022). VeryWellMind. Access here
“What does ‘high-functioning depression’ mean? We asked experts”. Chiu, A. (2022). The Washington Post. Access here
“Please Stop Thinking My High-Functioning Depression Makes Me Lazy”. Shannon-Karasik, C. (2019). HealthLine. Access here