Loving Me Sadly – Depression (Grief Stage 4)

“As tough as it is, depression can be dealt with in a paradoxical way. See it as a visitor, perhaps an unwelcome one, but one who is visiting whether you like it or not. Make a place for your guest. Invite your depression to pull up a chair with you in front of the fire, and sit with it, without looking for a way to escape.” -Elizabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler from On Grief and Grieving

The fourth stage of grief is depression. It is important to note that depression as a response to grief is somewhat different than clinical depression or major depressive disorder that I discussed in my Confessions of a Major Depressive series. The depression within the grieving process can simply be thought of as…sadness.

Okay, it’s not simple. The not so simple part of it is that in this stage, we actually sit with being sad, without trying to escape it or weasel out of it. Consider this story that I found in Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance. I read it at a workshop I did about grief recently, it’s one of my favorites:

In a small midwestern town, an elderly couple lived next door to a family with a four-year-old son. When the old woman died, her grieving husband was left totally on his own. Several days after her death, the little boy went to visit the man, and they spent hours together silently—the boy sitting on the old man’s lap. Each year the town gave an award for the “kindest act,” and the following spring the elderly gentleman nominated the boy to be the recipient. Surprised, his mother asked him, “What was it you talked about that day when you went over there?” He responded, “I didn’t say anything, Mommy. I just helped him to cry.”

The depression stage of grief is where we can be as sad as we want, cry as much as we want. Feelings that we have shut out have returned. It’s time for us to deal with them now.

***

If I had to say which grief stage I spend most of my time in about being single, it’s right here in depression. In my last post on bargaining, I asked the question, should I have to sacrifice my authenticity to receive a mate in return? When my answer is no, when I realize that it is too exhausting for me to be anything other than the woman that I am, but through all of that, I am still without an intimate partner…well then that leads me to depression.

The type of depression I feel about being single is a small component of my overall battle with clinical depression. These are the single girl blues. (Sounds like another title of a book I could write, haha). So basically now, I have moved past the denial about being single at this point of my life. But I still get pretty pissed about it (anger). And after my attempt at bargaining my way into a changed relationship status (by changing who I am) didn’t work, I am left with an overwhelming sadness because my circumstances haven’t changed.

I try to practice gratitude during this time, but the focus in this depression stage is warped. This is when I focus on everything I don’t have.

Couples holding hands and sharing affection…

Sweet kisses in the park…

A gentle, unexpected touch…

Sharing intimate secrets…

Sharing dreams and goals…

Celebrating big success and small accomplishments together…

Past failures in love and past loves take up a lot of space in my mind during this time. In my sadness, I try to figure out what went wrong. The depression I feel about being single was best described in an un-published essay I wrote called Happy Love Addicted Single Birthday. It pretty much sums it all up.

I will cry during this time, sometimes in strange, inappropriate places and odd times (like on my way home from work on the bus). But tears are okay. I believe that it is okay for me to cry because I have lost one of the most difficult things to lose. A dream. There is something to be sad about, no matter what other people may say.

It makes me sad when I think about how impossible the dating/relationship/singleness situation is in reality…or in my own limited human thinking. But sitting with these sad feelings are a necessary pathway to self-love and ultimate self-acceptance.

About Michele

Writer, musician, researcher, liberal, public servant, animal lover, Christian, 12 stepper, White Sox and GH fan.

Posted on July 26, 2012, in Thoughts & Reflections and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I wish I had the perfect man to send your way, you sound so loving and deserving. It seems the only thing I can do to help is to pray for you; sometimes my prayers are answered in wonderful ways, you just never know in life. If nothing else, know that someone hopes the best for you, Michele.
    ~ Lily

  2. What is not obvious when you see that couple holding hands in the park is how very difficult and challenging relationships are. I met my wife at 40 when I had given up on finding a mate. I love her, but marriage is a lot of difficult work. We go through very difficult periods, including alll the ones you mentioned–anger, depression, joy, anxiety, turmoil. And then there’s the compromise part, which can kill it if taken too far. It is human nature to want what you don’t have, the idea of which can be far more glamourous that the real thing. Michele…I have no doubt that you will find your mate, probably when you are not thinking about it and least expect it.

    • Thanks for commenting. I think the difficulties of relationships are very real for me. I watched my parents have a “difficult” relationship for over 30 years. Nonetheless, the happiness and joy, as well as the sadness and challenges of a relationship are something I long for. I’m not looking and I’m least expecting it now. :-) But in the meantime, I’m allowing myself to feel the sadness and frustration I feel about all of it. I think it’s okay for me to do that. Hence the purpose of my posts on grief as they relate to my current relationship status. To help people understand that it’s okay to feel what we feel at a given moment about anything that we perceive is a loss.

  3. You are right about having to let yourself grieve and feel the emotions, sometimes it takes a while! I really believe you will find the right/healthy “who/what” you are desiring when you are ready for it – that divine timing thing.

  4. I am depressed in my singleness. The stages of grief keep coming and going for us, because we keep getting our hopes up and then grieving our losses all over again.

    I do not choose to be single. I am single, and I hate it. People dismissing the grief and pain of singleness just makes it that much more to grieve, because we must grieve alone, in hiding.

    • Thank you so much for your honesty. I appreciate your comment so much. I edited it a bit, because I felt the tone was a bit on the harsh side, but I wanted to let you know that I do appreciate everything you said. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you continue to read. :)

  1. Pingback: Accept that LOVE is Enough – Acceptance (Grief Stage 5) | Words of Compassion, Creativity, & Knowledge

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