Grief’s a natural (though devastating) part of life

Allow yourself to grieve.

About eight weeks ago, I brought my wife to an emergency room. Five days later, she passed away. I’m still severely upset. I’ve lost my appetite and sleep. I’m constantly nervous. I have no family left and most of my friends are busy. I need support and advice to make it through my depression. Any suggestions?

I’m sorry about your loss. Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences a person can face. Losing a loved one suddenly or unexpectedly is perhaps the worst. In your case, five days is certainly not enough time to emotionally prepare for the impending loss of a life partner. No wonder you’re devastated.

You may take some comfort in knowing that your feelings are a natural and understandable response to sudden death. Not only is your illusion of trust in the universe shattered, but also your nervous system hasn’t had time to digest the death. This can compromise your coping mechanisms, affecting everything from sleep to appetite. To put it simply, you’re in shock.

While eight weeks of feeling miserable may feel like a lifetime, the loss is still fairly fresh. Most people can expect to cycle through several of the stages of grief – denial, sadness, anger, bargaining and acceptance -for at least a year, with symptoms subsiding but lingering much longer. However, those bereaving a sudden loss may feel the pain more acutely and for a longer duration than those who had an opportunity to prepare and say a proper goodbye.

Whether or not you’re clinically depressed is actually a subject of public debate. While bereavement has historically been excluded from the diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, the most recent draft of the new Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM)-V (the bible of the mental health profession) allows a depressive episode to be diagnosed two weeks after a death. The change is fairly controversial, as many believe that a natural passage of life should not be pathologized.

Regardless of what you call it, there are some things you can do to begin healing:

1) Give yourself permission to grieve.
While some people (men especially) may feel the need put on a brave face, grief is not an emotion that stays repressed for long. Better to grieve now in proximity to the actual loss, than years later when it can complicate other aspects of your life and compound the pain of subsequent losses.

2) Attend a bereavement group. Seeking support from others who understand what you’re going through can be very comforting, reminding you that you’re not alone. You might find such groups through a hospice, religious organization or a community social service agency.

3) Consult a bereavement counselor who can listen, monitor your moods, determine whether you’re at risk for depression and potentially refer you to a psychiatrist if medication is necessary.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

MUSIC The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees…

Going Out

5 things to do this weekend in NYC

The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees expected. David Guetta,…

Television

'Full House' might be relaunched with some of…

A new "Full House" might be in the works.

Movies

Review: 'The Congress' is a crazy, unwieldy sci-fi…

Robin Wright is the center of gravity in "The Congress," which turns from a live-action Hollywood satire into an animated spectacular on a downer future.

NFL

Mario Manningham on the bubble as Giants play…

Former Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham hopes his second go-around with Big Blue doesn’t end with Saturday’s final cut day.

NFL

Source: Stephen Hill 'faces a battle' to make…

A team source says Stephen Hill, who has battled injuries and poor performances during his first two years, is no lock to make the Jets’ final roster.

Sports

Serena Williams leaving legacy of talented American women…

It seems only a matter of when, not if, Serena Williams will win her 18th career grand slam championship.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…

Sex

The 10 types of people you meet online

Does it ever seem like online dating profiles tend to get a little repetitive? It turns out you are not the only one to have…

Home

Labor Day essentials

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or barbecuing in the park here are some must-haves for your end-of-summer bash.

Education

Does the school day start too early?

As thousands of high schoolers get ready to head back to class, health experts say it may be time to push back the start of…