Validating the experience of grief and the struggle with depression

This reflection is dedicated to my friends who are grieving and my patients who are suffering from depression.

Jan 12, 2019

By Dr Xavier V. Pereira
This reflection is dedicated to my friends who are grieving and my patients who are suffering from depression.

A sermon I heard recently trou- bled me. The priest implied that a sad Christian is not a good Chris- tian. And a Christian should not grieve during Christmas.

Grief is a response to the loss of a loved one. I am reminded of a quote by Bruce Yalom ‘Grief is the debt we pay for attachment’. Attachment is a psychosocial characteristic that is responsible for strong bonds in interpersonal relationships. Thus, the greater the attachment, the more pronounced the pain of Grief. Furthermore, Grief and Bereavement are pro- cesses that occur over periods of time. Grief takes time to heal.

I was also reminded of the state- ment made by a friend, Dr Scott Stuart, Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, Iowa University, at an IPT workshop we facilitated in April, 2018. He said that we may never stop grieving for our loved ones. And the intensity of psycho- logical pain may fluctuate and may increase during festivities and an- niversaries.

Jesus wept for His friend La- zarus. It’s human to grieve. Thus I would validate Grief during Christmas if one has had a recent loss of a loved one.

Many of my patients struggle with Depression. And we know that Depression, when it becomes a disorder, is an illness. The de- pressed person cannot feel joy. The closest that Jesus came to be- ing depressed or distressed was during His passion and crucifix- ion. He could identify with the pain of distress and despair that we sometimes feel. Thus, I dare state that not feeling joy during Christ- mas when one is depressed is not being a bad Christian. It is human.

My prayer for those who grieve is consolation, and those who are suffering from depression, the experience of healing. And He whose birth we celebrate today can be our source of consolation and healing. 

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