National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Feeling empty and alone and shifting the perception of grief
When it comes to grief sustained as a result of a bereavement, it is common for people to struggle with feeling empty and alone as they have to make a psychological adjustment to the grim reality that that person who played such an integral part of their life is no longer present.
A desire to be with the person who has died, a sense of wistful nostalgia, a yearning to hear their voice or be in their presence one more time can be overwhelming and even magnetic. But where those thoughts and desires persist, and persist to the detriment of other aspects of our lives, that is depression.
It can be difficult distinguishing between feeling empty and alone which is directly attributable to the grief process and feeling empty and alone which is caused by depression. What complicates things even further is the fact that there is significant overlap between the two.
Here are some red flags that you should be on the lookout for:
- Blaming yourself, taking inappropriate responsibility for the bereavement process as if you were somehow responsible.
- Suicidal thoughts/thoughts of harming yourself
- Loss of appetite and sense of apathy when it comes to normal activities you once enjoyed.
- Deliberately ignore social invitations and contact made by friends and family.
In such cases, it is strongly advisable that you establish contact with a therapist who specialises in the grieving process.
Do not let grief rule the whole of your life for the rest of your life. Many people worry that if they diminish the grief process for themselves, then this means that they are somehow betraying the person that they are grieving for.
Let us think about this rationally and logically for a moment. Do you really think the person who died would want us constantly feeling empty and alone? Struggling with low mood and feeling like we must put our entire life on hold because we did not properly grief for them? Or for a sufficiently lengthy period of time?
Absolutely not. They cared for us just as deeply and profoundly as we cared for them and they would want to see us flourish and blossom and enjoying life, not hiding away from it. Celebrate and relish the memories of the person who died, and the life they led.
That is the truest and sincerest form that our love and esteem for them can take: honor their death by living our lives to the fullest potential.