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Grief and depression

By Nathan Rice

I paused at the threshold of the house in complete and utter shock. My jaw dropped as I stood in stunned silence. It was eerily silent; no one moved or spoke. I knew the scene I saw before me could not be true, but I couldn’t reject what my eyes were seeing.

The two boys I lost several months prior sat on the floor looking up at me like they had done so much in the past. Their grandmother, grinning from ear to ear, sat in a chair between them. She and I had taken turns consoling each other over the past few months, and we each had times when we called the other crying. Now the biggest grin I had ever seen was on her face as her two grandsons sat between her once again.
I couldn’t move. The shock was too great.

I was still trying to process the scene when the youngest stood up and ran towards me. He jumped to me as I opened my arms. He wrapped his arms around my neck and his legs around my waist. I held him in my arms, still unsure of what was happening but not caring how this impossible reunion was taking place.

I began to struggle to hold his weight, so I shifted and regained my grip. I was never going to let go! Soon, however, he started feeling less heavy, and the boy in my arms began to disappear before my eyes.

The next thing I saw was my bedroom ceiling, and I realized it was all a dream. The impossible really was impossible.
That morning was difficult, and that difficulty continued throughout the week.

I’ve battled depression for over two decades, but adding grief to the equation has presented challenges I never thought I’d face.
Grief is hard on everyone, but those who struggle with depression have an extra layer of emotions with which to deal. Those who battle depression must work extra hard and be extra careful during times of grief.

I wrote an entire series of columns on my battle with depression, and I’ve had several columns over the past few months about how I’ve dealt with the loss while trying to help young family members do the same.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t write about those who face the two-headed dragon of depression and grief.

I know it hurts. I understand that it seems the pain will never end. I realize that it appears that all the work you put into fighting the dog of depression has been wasted because the beast of grief has ripped out your heart.

Please don’t give up! Do not quit! I wish I could tell you when the pain will end, but I’m not there myself. Even if I was, your timeline might be different than mine.

Revisit your plan for battling depression and make changes as needed. If you have no strategy for fighting the dog of depression, then now is the time to get started. Grief will make some of the steps you take to fight the dog of depression more difficult, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take them. Keep fighting and keep living!

I gave myself the time needed to begin the healing process, but I also realized the importance of continuing to move forward. Restarting was difficult! I stood outside my church building for 30 minutes the first time I went there since the loss before I was able to force myself to enter through the doors. I knew it was important to continue to live, and I am grateful that I re-entered the world. It has helped.

It’s also important to seek help if needed. It’s OK to let others know of your struggle, and there’s no shame in visiting a therapist or counselor. There’s no need to go through it alone.

I’ve spent time crying to the Lord, and there is no greater solace than there is in the arms of the Savior. Go to Him; let Him hold you.

Battling depression is a hard fight, and grief adds a terrible component, but you can make it through. Stay strong! Fight hard!

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.