Grief and Mental Health

In the past week, Prince Harry opened up about the effect his grief at the death of Diana, Princess of Wales as a part of the Heads Together initiative with the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall.

Grief and mental health are inextricably linked; one can spark the other, they can coexist  in an uncomfortable alliance.

Grief, in and of itself however, is not a mental illness. It’s our natural response to loss; whether that be the loss of a loved one, a place or a relationship.

There is hope, in grief. Grief is designed to weave its way into your life, to change you- mental health issues like depression are designed to destroy life.

Kay Redfield Jamieson writes:

Grief said C.S. Lewis is like “a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” This is so. The lessons that come from grief come from its unexpected moves, from its shifting views of what had gone before and what is yet to come.

The similarities between grief and depression are obvious; tearfulness, trouble sleeping, inability to concentrate.

The difference is grief has a path – and depression has a rampage – and whilst every persons grief is going to look different, there is no set timeline and no set course that it will run, many subscribe that at some point, in some order a person will experience five stages; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

When grief mutates into depression; there is no acceptance, no new life being forged, no space made for what has been lost.

Time is not a heal-all, but it does allow us to reshape our lives to accommodate what has been lost.

What both grief and mental illnesses need are space and time. Space to accept what is happening and time; for loved ones and listening ears.

For more information on places to access support when you’re grieving, check out https://www.careforthefamily.org.uk/family-life/bereavement-support/supporting-bereaved-people/bereavement-and-the-church. 

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