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Grief & LossGrief and loss can put people at risk of becoming depressed.
While the signs and symptoms of grief and loss are similar, it's important to recognise the differences so the affected person can receive the most
appropriate help.


The death of a loved one is a common situation that causes grief which is relatively well understood and recognised.
However, when there are big changes in a person's life, it can also leave us with the same feeling as if something/some one has been taken away.

Losses can be large or small and the effect of multiple losses accumulates.

Common experiences of loss:

• Relationship changes - separation, divorce, and of course death of a loved one

• Job changes - unemployment, retrenchment, retirement or demotion

• Change of role - e.g. children leaving home - or becoming a carer and having one's freedom restricted.

• Loss of health through illness, disability and/or ageing

• Miscarriage, infertility - disappointment at not being able to have a child

• Separation from family and friends - e.g. moving interstate or overseas.




When a person experiences a significant loss, it's usually followed by a period of grief.
Grief has no set pattern -

The length and severity of each grief experience is different for everyone.
There are however, common reactions and responses:

Some feelings associated with grief :

• Shock, feeling of numbness
• Returning overwhelming waves of emotional sadness.
• Headaches, sleeplessness.
• Flash back experiences of recurring thoughts, images, happy memories and sitiuations.

• Disbelief - "It can't be real."

• Confusion, often trying to make sense of it - "Why has this happened to me?"

• Anger - feeling deserted.
•      Appointing blame.

•      Pining and yearning - wanting whatever was lost to be returned

•      Guilt reinforcing Remorse- "I wish I had done things differently."

•      A sense of isolation and fear at facing the rest of life alone.

       As difficult, aching, seemingly endless & painful, the experience of grief whilst extremely unpleasant is never the less a normal, emotional experience which effects all individuals in their own way and manner.

Regardless of the circumstances a person experiencing grief needs support.

   If grief is not recognised and acknowledged, it can fester and have a detrimental effect on a person's health and wellbeing.




1. What you can do to help yourself

Although the pain of grief cannot be alleviated quickly, there are many things you can do to help yourself through a tough time.

Stay connected to friends and family, and use support groups.
• Because some friends may be inclined to stay away, to offer you privacy, let them know how often you'd like to see them.

• Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Stay healthy - Eat healthy meals, exercise regularly, get a good night's sleep and keep use of drugs and alcohol to a minimum.

Manage stress - Lighten your load by asking friends, family members or work colleagues to help you with some chores or commitments. Relaxation and gentle exercise can be helpful.

Make time to participate in enjoyable activities

2. How to help a person who is experiencing grief and loss.

Listen to what the person says about what he/she is going through, but also talk about everyday things because life goes on.

Support the person by initiating contact and by being available.

Encourage the person to get help if he/she feels stuck.



It can sometimes be difficult to know whether:

• you are just feeling down because you are experiencing grief and loss

• or you have symptoms of depression.

Depression can certainly be triggered by loss and it may share symptoms with grief, such as difficulty controlling emotions and moods, feeling teary and tired - however,

it's important to recognise the difference between normal grieving and depression.

Depression is more than just a low mood or feeling sad.

A person is likely to be depressed if:

• they get no enjoyment from any aspect of life

• it's difficult to do things - like getting up in the morning

• they have no energy and drive

• they are avoiding people

• they're not looking after themselves properly - eating, washing etc.

• they feel ashamed or guilty.

A diagnosis of depression can be made if a person has persistently, for more than TWO WEEKS:

• Felt sad, down or miserable most of the time

• Lost interest or pleasure in almost all usual activities.

If the answer is ‘YES' to either of these questions, complete the symptom checklist below.

If the answer was not ‘YES' to either of these questions, it is unlikely that the person has a depressive illness.

• Lost or gained a lot of weight OR

Had a decrease or increase in appetite

• Sleep disturbance

• Felt slowed down, restless or excessively busy

• Felt tired or had no energy

• Felt worthless OR

Felt excessively guilty OR

Felt guilt about things they should not have been feeling guilty about

• Had poor concentration OR

Had difficulties thinking OR

Were very indecisive

• Had recurrent thoughts of death

Add up the number of ticks for the total score: _____


References: American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and statistical manual

of mental disorders, .

It's important to note that scores provide only a rough guide as to whether someone has depression.
If you have ticked five or more of these statements, a health professional should be consulted.


There is a range of effective treatments for depression including psychological therapies and/or medication.

Psychological treatments help a person to change negative thought patterns and feelings.

A person can learn new ways to react to people and situations.

This can help recovery and prevent depression from returning.

Medication - If someone is only mildly or moderately depressed, psychological treatment alone may be effective.

However, if depression is severe, medication is often necessary as well. Antidepressants can take seven to 21 days to work effectively and should not be started or stopped without medical advice. Sometimes sleeping tablets can be helpful, but only for a short time.

It's important to remember that with the right treatment, most people recover from depression.

It's not always easy to help someone who is experiencing depression.
It can be hard to know what to say or do.

Below are some tips:

• Recognise that depression is an illness that needs treatment.

• Don't be afraid to talk to the person about how he/she is feeling.

• Spending time with the person lets them know someone cares and understands them.

• Encourage the person to seek professional help from a doctor or a mental health professional.

• Take care of yourself.
• Supporting someone with depression can be demanding.
• Family members and friends should take time to look after themselves.



At 777 Counselling Service, why else would we be placing these notes on our web site.

We regularly assist and Counsel clients who have been and still are experiencing depression or been the partner of a depressed person.

Several of our clients have been to the Doctor and psychiatrists over the years and do not want to be dulled or doped with medication and they have had faith in their own ability to manage depression. With this positive attitude we have been able to support and help many people with our Hakomi body centered psychotherapy which has the potential to get to the core of very early psychological wounds lying deep in the psyche....many unconsciously conditioned & buried traumatic wounds, beliefs and attitudes since our childhood.

• We acknowledge and thank beyondblue for the bulk of this material and trust that this information may be helpful to support you in some way.

When seeking Counselling with us your personal Confidentiality is assured.

We sincerely trust you may have found these notes appropriate and helpful.

Another very helpful organisation for those who seeking group or individual support for grief management especially in around the loss of a child is available at
The Compassionate Friends.

If you would like further information, or you maybe seeking support please do not hesitate to contact
Carol Stuart or Rod McClure JP at the 777 Counselling Service
Level 1 of the Royal Arcade Bondi Junction.

Or Phone 93877355 9.00 am till 9.00 pm seven days.

Out of hours emergency call Rod direct on 0412 777303

Or Email your concern or question to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  & we will respond ASAP.



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Nowra Office; 44 Lyrebird Drive NOWRA. NSW 2541. AUSTRALIA. Phone: 61 0412 777303.
777 Counselling Service