web analytics
March 2, 2015 / 11 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Dealing With Loss

Respler-082914

Dear Dr. Yael,

My mother passed away earlier this year and, since her petirah, I have noticed a gradual decline in my father’s emotional health. My siblings and I are concerned, as recently he seems to have stopped taking care of even his most basic needs.

We each take turns hosting our father for Shabbos (and during the week if he is up to it), and the last time he came to me it looked like he hadn’t showered in days and his clothes were dirty and disheveled. I told him I would be happy to wash his clothes and even gently suggested that maybe he wanted to change for Shabbos. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Nothing matters since Mommy died; I have nothing to live for.” I reminded him how much we love him and want him to be happy. He said he knows, but we all have our own lives and he belongs with our mother in Shamayim.   I did not know how to respond, so I just hugged him and said that we need him here with us. I also said that we miss Mommy as well, but we do not want him to join her anytime soon.

Dr. Yael, I am so worried. As I said, my siblings and I are trying very hard to take care of my father’s physical needs, but we have no idea how to help him emotionally. What can we do to help him stop feeling so sad all the time? What can we do to get him to begin to take care of himself? How can we help him move on with his life?

A Devoted Daughter in Despair

 

Dear Devoted Daughter,

Without meeting your father, it is difficult to diagnose him; however, the symptoms you are describing seem to indicate that your father is feeling depressed. While it may have begun as just a form of mourning, at this point you might want to see about having him assessed by a professional in order to rule out Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

A grieving person may experience the following feelings for days, weeks, or even months following the loss of a parent, spouse, sibling or friend:

  • guilt about things he or she did or did not do before the person died
  • thoughts such as “I wish I would have died instead”
  • imagining he or she has seen or heard the dead person
  • having trouble sleeping
  • changes in eating and exercise habits
  • social isolation

The DSM-IV used to list bereavement as an exclusion to diagnosing MDD. That meant that when someone experienced the death of a loved one, a psychologist would not diagnose MDD within the first two months following the loss, as the symptoms were thought to be due to grief. However, new studies show that MDD was being overlooked and individuals were not being treated properly. Thus, the DSM-V does not have a bereavement exclusion and allows for MDD as a diagnosis, even following the death of a loved one, if appropriate. The APA lists the following differences between grief and Major Depressive Disorder:

In grief, painful feelings come in waves, often combined with positive memories of the deceased; in depression, mood and ideation are almost constantly negative.

In grief, self-esteem is usually preserved; in Major Depression Disorder, corrosive feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing are common.

Since many believe that some form of depression is a normal consequence of bereavement, MDD should not be diagnosed in the context of bereavement since that diagnosis would incorrectly label a normal process as a disorder. And yet, research and clinical evidence have demonstrated that for some people, the death of a loved one can precipitate Major Depressive Disorder. However, it is a misconception that grief symptoms are identical to those of MDD.

The DSM-V Criteria for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) are as follows:

  • Depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities for more than two weeks.
  • Mood represents a change from the person’s baseline.
  • Impaired function: social, occupational, educational.
  • Specific symptoms, at least 5 of these 9, present nearly every day:
  1. Depressed mood or irritable most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful).
  2. Decreased interest or pleasure in most activities, most of each day
  3. Significant weight change (5%) or change in appetite
  4. Change in sleep: Insomnia or hypersomnia
  5. Change in activity: Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  6. Fatigue or loss of energy
  7. Guilt/worthlessness: Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
  8. Concentration: diminished ability to think or concentrate, or more indecisiveness
  9. Suicidality: Thoughts of death or suicide, or has suicide plan

Although I am sharing all of these symptoms with you, it is imperative that you see a competent psychologist or psychiatrist to help you figure out what is going on with your father. In the meantime, you should try to get him to walk every day or engage in some type of exercise. I know that this will be difficult, but exercise helps increase endorphins, which is a great way to fight depression or depressive symptoms.

Additionally, if you can try to get your father involved in some kind of activity that he would enjoy, it would be very helpful. Even if you or your husband have to drag your father with you at first, it will help your father begin to lift himself out of the negative feelings he is experiencing. Perhaps your husband or one of your siblings can learn with your father? This has proven to help many men going through a difficult time. Please try to get your father professional help as soon as possible in order to assist him in beginning the healing process.

Hatzlocha!

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

4 Responses to “Dealing With Loss”

  1. Sara Lindsey says:

    What a sweet man..

  2. I stand with Israel now and forever and thank all the friends of Israel for their support!

  3. Jane Folkard says:

    When I lost my Granddaughter 4 years ago, I turned to God. He has helped me.

  4. My family has lost 3 first born sons 16 years apart and all tragically. When my son died, I felt the pain of my older brother and sister’s loss. That big sickening hole in my gut lasted for 1 1/2 years, and then I moved along half dead. I have since 2005been carrying a bag of grief rocks.
    Lately, I am taking those rocks out one by one. I read that when people lost in the wilderness, near dead, and then rescued, were all asked what kept them going, all answered Hope.
    Such is the wilderness of a grieving parent. I now carry a life bag also to balance the load. In that bag is Faith, Hope, and Charity. It is made with fabric woven from good memories, good relationships, and knowing tomorrow is a gift not a promise.
    May all grieving parents have peace, and if not, may it find them. <3

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks to reporters with his wife at his side at Ben Gurion Airport Sunday morning.
Israeli PM Netanyahu Arrives in US to Speak at AIPAC, Congress on Iran
Latest Sections Stories
Golan Wine Medals

‘Double Gold’ awarded to 2012 Yarden Heights wine & 2011 Yarden Merlot Kela Single Vineyard.

Niehaus-022715

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

Mendlowitz-022715-Basket

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

Astaire-022715-Countryside

One of the earliest special Purims we have on record was celebrated by the Jews of Granada and Shmuel HaNagid, the eleventh-century rav, poet, soldier and statesman, and one of the most influential Jews in Muslim Spain.

Jews, wake up! Stop educating the world and start educating yourselves.

The lessons conform to the sensitivities and needs of the Orthodox community…

The program took on special significance as it marked not only the first anniversary of Rebbetzin Kudan’s levayah but also the 27th yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, a”h.

It captures the love of the Jewish soul as only Shlomo Hamelech could portray it – and as only Rabbi Miller could explain it.

Erudite and academic, drawing from ancient and modern sources, the book can be discussed at the Shabbos table as well as in kollel.

I’m here to sit next to you and help you through this Purim with three almost-too-easy mishloach manot ideas, all made with cost-conscious paper bags.

Kids want to be like their friends, and they want to give and get “normal” mishloach manos stocked with store-bought treats.

Whenever he did anything loving for me, I made a big deal about it.

“OMG, it’s so cute, you’re so cute, everything is so cute.”

A program that started with a handful of volunteers has grown exponentially to include students from a wider array of backgrounds.

More Articles from Dr. Yael Respler
Respler-022015

Whenever he did anything loving for me, I made a big deal about it.

Respler-021315

She says that they are our children and since she brings in half, or sometimes more than half of our parnassah, we need to be full partners in their chinuch.

I surprise my wife with gifts, large and small.

They are like children keeping count of who changed how many diapers each day.

I find his mother to be a difficult person and my nature is to stay away from people like that.

Often both girls and boys compare their date to their parents.

The Moroccan wife’s chief pride is showing that she ought to win the prize for the most attentive and solicitous spouse and mother.

Both parties need to become more tolerant of one another.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/dealing-with-loss/2014/08/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: