Grief-Melissa

I was going through my archives looking for a post to post about Melissa and I found this post.  I am not sure where it came from or why I had it as a draft and never published it.  I actually think she posted it on her blog but I know that we all can learn something for her while we are mourning her passing.

Grief Has Taught Me A Few Things

Until I began experiencing grief as a result of dad’s death, I never realized anything could feel as emotionally and physically painful as depression. In fact, they have felt so similar that I became confused, and had a difficult time distinguishing the difference between the two. At one point, I even convinced myself that I was heading toward a depressive episode.
I went to my psychiatrist, thinking she was going to raise the dosage of my depression medication, because of how badly I was feeling. Instead, she told me what I was feeling was normal grief, and while it hurt just as badly as depression does, it was not the same thing. She told me to be patient. She told me the worst of what I was feeling would pass in a few weeks. She was right.
She did give me a word of warning, telling me that with my history of depression I would have a greater chance of my grief turning into a depressive episode. Her solution was not to raise my medication dosage, but instead watch me a little more closely than usual.
Now that the pain of dad’s loss is not so intense, I can see the wisdom in what she said. I can also identify some of the differences between grief and depression, as well as acknowledge that I have learned a few things from this experience.
Both grief and depression include symptoms of sadness, tearfulness, disturbances in sleep, decreased socialization, and changes in appetite. In most cases, that is where the similarities end. Usually, after the first two to three weeks of the grieving process the person is – in most cases – able to carry out most of the obligations and activities that come with daily living. However, a person with severe depression will lack the ability to function for many weeks, months, and in some cases years. In addition, early morning awakening is more common in depression.
One of the biggest differences I have noticed between depression and grief is what my mind has focused on. During my severe major depressive episode I spent a lot of time thinking about myself – in a self negating way. Some of my thoughts during that time were that I was “worth nothing”, “a burden”, and “unlovable”. Nothing could penetrate my thoughts of despair, and my inability to have hope. Eventually, the only option I felt was left to me was suicide. In my grieving process, I have been in emotional pain, but there have been no feelings of despair or hopelessness. Nor have I had any negative thoughts about myself or suicidal thoughts.
There is no question that feelings of loss and sadness are a significant part of grief, however, those feelings are distinctly different than feelings of loss and sadness in someone with depression. A person with depression will usually experience a constant and overwhelming feeling of sadness, while someone grieving typically experiences sadness in “waves”. Most of the time, it is in response to some reminder of their loved one.
For me, these painful memories of dad are paired with positive feelings and memories. For example, when I began the process of trying to organize things in the garage I became overwhelmed with grief. Dad’s death was the reason I was having to organize the garage, and get things ready to move. That hurt. I sat down and cried for an hour. When I was able to calm down enough to get back to work one of the first things I found was dad’s coonskin hat. So in the middle of that emotional pain I found something to laugh about. During my depressive episode finding that hat certainly would not have made me laugh, in reality it probably would have caused me to cry even more.
While there have been plenty of times when I have wanted to be alone in my grief, I have noticed that I have not gone to the extremes I did during my depressive episode to isolate myself. I have maintained social contacts, and even reached out to friends and family when I felt overwhelmed by my grief. I have allowed myself to be consoled, something that would have been impossible if what I had been feeling was depression symptoms.
I still miss dad, and I know I always will, but at least I have a professional sport team, my mother, real friends, and online friends to help me through my grieving process.
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More Advice From Melissa

Here is another post that Melissa wrote for my blog.  This was originally posted on 9/10/2010.   It was entitled Love Letters To Yourself.  There is much I can say about this post or about her today.  I am going to write a post about her and I would love to be able to include any memories that you have of her.  I love you Melissa!

Love Letters To Yourself

In a previous guest post I briefly mentioned writing love notes to yourself, something I like to do. I find that writing myself love notes is a wonderful way to keep myself motivated and feeling good about myself. Love notes do not have to be long, just a few short words on a post-it-note are just as valuable as writing a long letter to myself.

There are times though, when only a long letter will do. Not just a long letter, but something like how people used to write letters long ago. Letters containing pressed flowers, smelling of perfume or having lovely pictures. Even writing them with a fancy pen that is only reserved for my special letters. It is all about making myself feel good and taking care of myself. I like to save these letters. Pulling them out when I need to hear special, loving words.

I believe that no one knows better what I need to hear to build me up than myself. These letters do that when, for whatever reason, my family cannot fill that need for me.

You never want the letter writing to yourself to become a chore, something you feel like you have to do, so don’t do it very often. It is about loving yourself, showing yourself compassion, not one more thing in the long list of things that you must do. Don’t get bogged down in using proper grammar, or punctuation, or making it perfect. It is about love, not about perfection.

Make the time that you take to write these letters to yourself special. If you find that you cannot get time alone during the day to do this, try it after the rest of your family goes to bed. Play some soft music, light a few candles, take some time and clear your mind before you get started. Think about the wonderful things you want to say. If you cannot do all that, you can still make that time special by putting some pressed flowers in your letter, decorating the envelope, even putting inspirational pictures from magazines and photographs in it. You could crush some fragrant herbs and put them in, or include your own drawings (even if they are only stick figures). Write some quotes on little slips of paper and stick those in as well.

Start your letters off with terms of endearment, like “Dear” and then put as much love and compassion into the letter to yourself as you can. Write it to someone you love dearly. As difficult as it might be, do your best to not write it in the first person. An example of this is:

Dear Melissa,

You are a wonderful person. I love how strong and self confident you are. You are a beautiful, inside and out. I value you. I admire the compassion you showed to those hurting people today. (and just keep going)

In your letters to yourself you could write about your good qualities, something you did that you are proud of, and things that bring you love and joy. Write about a walk you took, or a special time you spent with another person. You could write about something loving another person did or said to you. Use your imagination, write only about the things that build you up.

You can write your letter all at one time, or take a whole month to write it, adding bits and pieces here and there. Do it the way that works best for you.

On your hard days, on those days when you are hurting and your self worth has taken a blow, pull out your love letters to remind yourself what a wonderful person you are. Read them all, or read only one, whatever it takes to heal your hurting heart.

If you decide to try writing a love letter to yourself, I would enjoy hearing about it. Only as much as you feel comfortable sharing.

Written by Melissa Mashburn of Sugar Filled EmotionsMyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected

Melissa-You Inspire Me

Some of you will know that Melissa used to post on my blog.  For those of you who don’t know Melissa passed away last night after they took her off of life support.  I am sad that she is no long with us but I am so glad that I have some of her writing that I can look back on a remember her by.  She was a great person and I looked at her more as a mother figure than as a friendThis post is a post she wrote about me on 10/1/2010.  I am re-posting it because what she said to me is how I feel about her.  I am going to take the next few days off of writing but I am going to re-post some the posts she wrote for my blog.  I am also going to be writing a post about her and that should be up in the next few weeks.  If you have any memories that I can include if you would please leave them that would be great.

Written by Melissa Mashburn of Sugar Filled Emotions

Most of the time when I write, my primary goal is to write about something that I find inspiring. Once I put it all down, I can only hope that my readers find it as inspiring as I do. Today’s post is really no different, except instead of writing about a topic or idea that I find inspiring, I am going to say a few things about a person I find inspiring.

You inspire me because not only do you have to live with all the normal day to day struggles that we all have, you also have some unique physical challenges that you could use justify a life of inactivity. Instead you do the opposite. You make no excuses. You do what you can, which is often more than what someone with a healthy body would/could do.

You are one of the kindest people I know. No matter how you feel, you have a kind word for me.

You are a shining example of strength in the face of difficulties. I admire your courage.

You have such a giving spirit. You are quick to make sure the people around you are doing okay.

You are a beautiful person, inside and out!

 

for being my friend. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life! Thank you for allowing me to post on your blog.