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Bereavement and Depression 1. My Cat Had Very Soggy Fur: Grief and Loss. Wednesday November 5, 2014

Some time ago Caroline asked me to write a piece on bereavement and depression. Having suffered bereavement myself last year, I guess I seemed like an obvious choice.

Twenty three years ago my best friend had to move house. She was sad to go because they were leaving a beautiful part of the country and leaving good friends. The thing that haunts her still is that she had to separate their then four year old daughter Sophie from her best friend Beth.

Children recover quickly of course. Or do they? Sophie has never made another close friend like Beth and, thank goodness, visits and emails have meant that the two are still in touch. But my friend still regrets the amount of grief she had to inflict on Sophie and Beth.

When we think about bereavement and grief we automatically think about loss through death; but grief is a response to any loss. That might mean a loss of a loved one through death. But it might also mean many other things. We can grieve the loss of a friendship, losing our health or physical ability, our job, or a beloved pet. Loss could mean divorce, miscarriage, infertility, moving, or being deployed.

Surely the most painful loss must be that of a child. But loss cannot be tidily categorised into big or small. Another friend of mine has experienced more than a dozen miscarriages and has been unable to have children. I read that one man said that when he and his wife were trying to start a family and his wife was not conceiving that each time her monthly period arrived it felt for both of them like a death with no body.

The bitterest grief I have ever felt was for the loss of my first husband; not through death, but through divorce because he didn't want me anymore. The sense of loss caused by betrayal and rejection hurt far more than his physical absence. I would sit for hours with my (long-suffering) cat on my lap weeping into her fur. When that cat died, at the grand old age of twenty three, I grieved for her too, but in a more accepting way: she had a good life and it was time. She died peacefully purring on my lap and we laid her to rest under her favourite tree.

Experiencing loss is a part of life and grief is the appropriate response. Nobody should be expected to just shrug off a loss and carry on as normal. Whatever your loss is, you need to give yourself permission and time to grieve; however that grief looks and feels to you.

A Moodscope member.

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Di Murphey Wed, Nov 5th 2014 @ 3:53am

I found some typo mistakes and removed it to fix them. It is back below, Mary.

Di Murphey Wed, Nov 5th 2014 @ 3:54am

Dearest Mary-Mary,
Oh, my friend. I am so sad for the loss of your first husband and its effect on you. Saying that loss caused by betrayal and rejection hurt far more than the physical absence requires a keen awareness of one's situation and a high degree of authenticity.

I am enthralled with your sense of placement and truth.
Lovingly with admiration,
Di Murphey

Hopeful One Wed, Nov 5th 2014 @ 9:43am

Hi Mary . A well thought out piece. I am so glad that you have come to terms with your losses . It is not easy. Bereavement and depression have much in common as both are reactions to some past losses These losses are often very individual and that is why I think there are so many treatments in the depression market as there is no ' one size fits all ' option given the diversity of these losses and our individual reactions to them. It is worth recognising that these losses can be physical, mental , real or imagined., tangible or intangible ,emotional , financial and many more. I think that if a depressed person can recognise which of these they have then they have taken the first step towards recovery.

crafty wee midden Wed, Nov 5th 2014 @ 12:54pm

Mary, a quick thank you...just read this. So helpful. Back later...just wanted to say thanks. Alex

Anonymous Wed, Nov 5th 2014 @ 1:11pm

This year I lost two good friends - in January one who decided to go...I'm still working on that, it's still hard to think, to write about her and her decision.

In July my good friend Philipp died - malginant melanoma, the medical expression sounds not so - ugly.

Both friends I knew for more than 30 years - same boarding school since I was 16.
We were still grieving about Uli (January) and worrying about her decision and couldn't have helped her in anyway.
When Philipp passed away, we decided to organise an iranien ritual (one of us has iranien roots) - 40 days after the memorial ceremony, we all met at a (our) boathouse near our former boarding school (it's sold now and not longer used as a boarding school but the boathouse belongs to a alumni association). We spent the whole day together talking, eating, crying, just sitting in the grass with a huge portrait of Philipp on the balcony. And at the end of the day we took a flower each one and let them (the flowers) sail out on the lake...
I am still deeply sad about my/our losses and often I quarrel...but this day at the boathouse sharing our grief left my heart a bit more peaceful.

take care, Sylke

Anonymous Wed, Nov 5th 2014 @ 1:53pm

As a volunteer for Cruse Bereavement Care I wan to thank you Mary for sharing the pain you experienced. The picture of you crying with your cat was so moving. Your cat was there for you. Animals can be such a help in bad times. They say something in their silence. God bless you. GIll

Anonymous Wed, Nov 5th 2014 @ 2:47pm

If you are suffering from depression, I recommend the system.
Written by a former sufferer of depression, it teaches a simple 7-step process to eliminate depression from your life.

Hopeful One Wed, Nov 5th 2014 @ 5:52pm

How we wish it was that easy - see my comments above.

Anonymous Wed, Nov 5th 2014 @ 8:21pm

Thank you Mary for that post. Having had clinical depression for many years, the death of my mother a year ago this month, tipped me into another level of depression I have never experienced. Yes, she was old, 89, had a peaceful "good death", but I have just not been able to deal with it. She died on the other side of the world (the southern hemisphere) to where I live and I couldn't get back to see her at the end or attend her funeral for financial and health reasons. I can't forgive myself for that. It's a year and I know people are thinking I should have moved forward, but it feels like it happened yesterday... I've had a brief amount of bereavement couselling but it doesn't seem to have helped (not the counsellor's fault) I have no family here (in the UK), and friends haven't really been around. I don't know what to do anymore.... DC.

Anonymous Wed, Nov 5th 2014 @ 8:35pm

Thank you for today's post; it made me realise what I am feeling and why - but more than that, it is ok to feel this way, not just "wallowing" as my partner tells me I'm doing.

Di Murphey Wed, Nov 5th 2014 @ 9:04pm

Dearest Anonymous,
Perhaps it might behoove you to think of what your mother might wish for you in your remaining years. My guess is that if she could have her way, you would live your life in service to others. She may have been a wonderful, gentle mother who loved you without restraints. Could you find it within yourself to give her the gift of a well-lived life? She, of all people, understands why you were not there at the end. You gave what you could. And that is enough for most mothers.
Di Murphey

Anonymous Wed, Nov 5th 2014 @ 11:00pm

My husband left 14 years ago and I amstill grieving.His betrayal felt, to me, much worse than a death. Because unlike a bereavement, he CHOSE to leave us.He even chose to leave our children because I made him so unhappy. 14 years on, I don't know how I will ever come to terms with the fact that I could have caused my beautiful, precious, amazingly ethical and inspiring children any harm. I grieve.

Lady Jane Wed, Nov 5th 2014 @ 11:05pm

I grieved when my first husband left me 21 years ago and I still suffer from anxiety about abandonment now. I now grieve that a man in my life who I love does not want me

Snuggles62 Wed, Nov 5th 2014 @ 11:40pm

Hi Mary. Perhaps the strangest loss I've grieved over has been whilst going through the Menopause. I'd heard women say that although they'd had their family, then been sterilised, they still grieved the inability to have children when they went through the Menopause. I couldn't understand this, or why I was suddenly grieving deeply, as though someone had ripped my stomach out. But that's how it feels, and it's normal.

Hopeful One Thu, Nov 6th 2014 @ 8:28am

Hi Anonymous 8.21 pm- you will somehow have find it in yourself to forgive.After all you could not attend your mother's funeral due to circumstances beyond your control.No one is doubting your love for her other than yourself.I faced a similar situation when my elder sister died while on holiday abroad.I was looking after my wife, who has Alzheimer's ,and could not make alternative arrangements quickly enough to get to where she was going to be cremated.I felt guilty too but I forgave myself and promised myself that I would make amends in other ways.I will be going to the country where she passed away this year and place a plaque in her memory at a school I found nearby where I have donated a sum of money towards equipping the school to install computers to help some of its disadvantaged pupils. If you can find a way to channel your grief in something positive like that you will get some relief I can assure you.

Julia Thu, Nov 6th 2014 @ 8:35am

What a wonderful way to remember your sister.

Hopeful One Thu, Nov 6th 2014 @ 8:43am

Having said the above I realized that it might be interpreted in a negative way. What I meant was that I appreciate your contribution but I could tell you about a six step system described by Dr Steven Ilardi in the book "The Depression cure- the six step programme to beat depression." And I have read of a ten step programme. Neither made any great difference to me.The problem with all these programes is that if the the poor depressed person does not respond where does he/she go from there?The approach that worked for me was "mix and match". I accept It might not work for someone else. I am currently dealing with someone for whom nothing seems to work.I managed to get him from a 17% Moodscope score to 35% after six months.I have not given up on him yet infuriating as it can be at times!

Anonymous Thu, Nov 6th 2014 @ 11:06pm

Yes the menopause is a huge cause for bereavement, and imagine that multiplied for those of us who weren't able to have families. The grieving never ends.

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