This entry is part 9 of 31 in the series The Hope Toolbox

 Straight Talk about How to Survive Heartbreaking Grief and Depression

Straight Talk about How to Survive Heartbreaking Grief

Heartbreaking grief is not the same thing as depression, but they often go together.

Grief is the process you go through after loss of any type. Death of a loved one causes grief for sure, but a move, the loss of a friend, a pet, or a job can also cause grief. (Please remember to check with your doctor or a therapist — I’m not an expert.)

Depression can kick in if you have trouble moving through the deepest pain of it, and especially when it lasts long and starts to interfere with your ability to function.

There’s no shame in this. It happens. Grief really stirs up any old emotional stuff and relationship problems you haven’t dealt with yet, so then it’s all just a swirling mass of yuck and pain.

People often think of depression as endless sadness, and sometimes it is, but a lot of times it’s more of a blah feeling. This is because the whole point of it is to tune out the world, because you are NOT HAPPY WITH THE WORLD. The world has taken you for a crap-ride and you want out. So, you tune out of your emotions for awhile by going numb as best you can.

I know this because I’ve done it a number of times.

There’s quite a bit of anger wrapped up in this tuning out business, because life has done you wrong, which we will get to in a later post in this series.

Heartbreaking Grief Leaves Should Have Hads

Grief leaves should have hads. I don’t mean, “I should have said this,”  or “I should have done that,” as in regrets, although there’s always that possibility if the relationship had problems.

What I mean is, grief leaves you with those unfinished days, weeks, and years that you thought you were going to get.

I thought we would retire together.

I thought we would spend Christmas together.

We should have been grandparents.

We should have had one more summer.

I know for those of us who are Christians reading this, we know we don’t deserve anything. We get what God gives us and that’s it. We aren’t supposed to complain. We accept.

But look, we are human, okay? We look around and we see that other people are getting more Christmases and more summers and their retirement.

We know life isn’t fair but still, IT HURTS. IT HURTS A WHOLE LOT. It’s okay to grieve that.

Grief is from joyful days we wanted to have. It’s not wrong to miss those days. You aren’t saying God isn’t still God.

Heartbreaking grief isn’t a lack of faith. All it is, is saying, “I’m sad we didn’t get that.” Allow yourself to feel it.

My father died when I was 21 years old. My dad loved his family, and he adored little kids. He was the youngest in a family of 8 children and would have had a whole slew of kids if my mom would have gone for it.

My dad was crazy about Christmas. He stayed up all night long on Christmas Eve, tossing and turning in anticipation of us children waking up on Christmas morning to see our gifts. He would get up at 4:00 AM to turn on the Christmas music so it would be ready when we woke up. He would never admit it, but at 6:00 AM I think he started banging a few things around, just a bit, so we would get up and see that Santa had come.

Shortly after my dad died, I became pregnant with my first daughter. Mixed with the joy of her arrival was the heaviness of that long-carried grief season. I remember the first time my brother held Rebekah, I sat staring at his hands and thinking, “His hands are so much like Dad’s. I never knew he had hands just like Dad’s.”

Years later, my brother told me that as he was holding my daughter for the first time, all he could think of was, “This should be dad hold her instead of me.”

I wanted days with my dad as a grandpa. I wanted Christmases together. I grieved the loss.

How to Survive Heartbreaking Grief & Depression

Help is available for grief and depression. Recognize the deep level of pain and work involved in grief. Give yourself compassion. You probably aren’t nearly kind enough to yourself.

Then get real. Is your grief touching on old emotional pain and unhealthy relationship patterns that you haven’t dealt with yet? What are you going to do about it?

God comforts us in all our troubles

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God comforts us in all our troubles

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The Hope Toolbox

The Hope Toolbox

Throughout this series, each of us is creating My Hope Toolbox, your own personal list of resources you can use for the bad days. Whether it’s go for a run, listen to music, or sit in the sunshine, we all need activities we know will help move us toward healing, even when we don’t FEEL like doing them.

What will you add to your Hope Toolbox today?

Today’s Bible Memory Verse:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

1 Corinthians 1:3-4

Today’s Journaling Prompt:

Grief is a normal, healthy response to loss. Grief honors the person or situation we lost. It is, however, possible to become stuck in a step of the grief process and unable to move forward. How is grief affecting your life today?

Helpful Resources:

A Divine Encounter: What is Anticipatory Grief?

Dr.Michelle Bengtson: 15 Tips to Survive Grief

 My Hope Toolbox: Printable Kit for Depression & Anxiety

 

 

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