When we lose someone we love, it is natural for us to grieve. The grieving process is how we deal with loss – the more significant the loss, the more intense the grief may be.
In many ways, grief can manifest and have an effect on your overall wellbeing, from mental to physical health. You may also experience a number of emotions, such as anger and guilt – not just sadness.
There are usually five stages of grief that end with acceptance. The Mind Faculty explains these below:
This is actually a coping mechanism – it helps us process news that is too difficult to handle, and can make us feel like someone else is going through the tragedy.
“What did my loved one do to deserve this?” “Why is this happening to me?” During this time, when feelings of loss feel the most painful, these thoughts are normal.
Anger is a natural reaction to injustice, and when we feel scared, it is also a way to protect ourselves.
You could find yourself thinking, “If only I had done this” or “Is this part of a master plan?”
when trying to make sense of what has happened. Confusion, longing and desperation can accompany this.
When the news starts to settle in, and you finally start to accept your new reality, you may find that grief arrives in waves of distress or sadness.
The last stage – when you’re to start rebuilding your life without your loved one in it.
It is important to know that grief is not linear – you may find yourself moving two steps forward, only to have something set you back five steps. Not everyone will go through these stage, some may even merge with each other: anger mixed with bargaining, sadness mixed with acceptance. Remember – everybody grieves differently and at their own pace.
If you need professional help when grieving, you can find out more about The Mind Faculty’s services here.
Cancer is a complicated disease – according to WebMD, there isn’t a cure, but there are treatments that may be able to cure some people. It doesn’t help that there’s still a stigma surrounding it either with cancer being stereotyped as a life-threatening disease.
When someone we love is diagnosed with breast cancer, we may find ourselves cycling through anticipatory grief – the mourning that occurs when expecting a death. You know you have to be strong for them, but this can be difficult when you feel like you’re falling apart at the seams. We asked The Mind Faculty how to deal with these feelings without making it harder for your loved one:
- Reach out to your support network
Talk to your other family members, friends or even a counsellor. This is a scary, challenging and devastating situation, so you’re not being weak for needing extra help.
- Practice self-care
You can only be there for your loved one as much as you are there for yourself. Make sure you’re eating healthy and moving your body – even if it’s stretching for 5 minutes a day, and allow yourself a break by going out with friends or someone who is removed from the situation.
- Honor your feelings
You may be tempted to think, “I can’t be be sad, I have to be strong for my loved one”, but by minimizing the way you feel – you won’t allow yourself to grieve or process it properly. Try venting to a friend, keeping a journal or even screaming into a pillow. Your pain is valid.
It’s important to be patient with yourself as grief follows its own timeline. When it comes to caring for them while managing you own stress and anxiety, The Mind Faculty suggests:
- Create positive memories with your loved one
If it’s not possible, you can still reminisce about your favorite times together – try making them a scrapbook.
- Hold space for them
Listen without trying to ‘solve’ what they are going through. For example, if they tell you that they are scared – don’t say, “There’s nothing to be afraid about! Modern medicine is amazing”. Instead, try saying, “I can only imagine how scary it must be for you”.
- Educate yourself
Do your research on breast cancer and their treatments, but don’t overwhelm them with information. To avoid this from happening, allow them to ask you first.
- Watch how you speak about cancer
We usually use ‘war metaphors’ when speaking about cancer. For example – “we must fight it”, “she is a cancer survivor”. This suggests that people who have died from cancer didn’t fight hard enough and can make those who suffer from it feel guilty or inadequate if their treatment isn’t working.
While you can prioritize your loved one, please make sure to take care of your mental health as well. Remember – you can’t pour from an empty cup!
Follow The Mind Faculty on Instagram for more professional advice and mental health support.
Are you reluctant to reach out to someone who might be suffering from depression? Not because you don’t want to, but because you’re afraid of their reaction or saying the wrong thing.
Before shying away from the topic, remind yourself that you’re simply showing compassion. It doesn’t have to be a hard or uncomfortable situation – you can make a big difference just by being kind.
“What if I’m being intrusive?”
“I don’t want them to feel insulted.”
…are probably what you are thinking about right now. Try using these tips from Jade Goh of The Mind Faculty when checking up on someone:
- Use open-ended questions to avoid appearing judgmental
You want to give your friends an opportunity to respond without getting defensive. For example, “You don’t seem like yourself late. How is everything going?” instead of “You’ve been so down lately. What’s wrong?”.
- If someone tells you they are depressed, avoid trying to fix it
Holding space doesn’t mean fixing a problem – it’s providing them with a safe space by deeply listening to understand them. By saying things like, “If you’re feeling down, you should try exercise and meditation”, you’re invalidating their feelings and minimizing their struggles.
- Be curious about what they are going through
Show them you care by asking open-ended questions such as,” What has this felt like for you?”. Being depressed can be a lonely and isolating experience, so make them feel heard and acknowledge their pain – “That must feel so overwhelming.”
- Help them to identify a support network of friends and family
Ask them, “Have you told your mum about this? How do you think she would react? Who do you think would be a good person to support you?”.
- If you can, ask them: “Has it ever gotten so bad that you feel like hurting yourself?”
If your friend has expressed suicidal or self-harming behaviour, encourage them to seek help. “That must feel incredibly scary for you. Please know that I want to support you in any way that I can but I’m afraid I’m out of my depth. Can I help you to make an appointment with someone?”
In times like these, it’s important to stay connected. Be more empathetic towards others even though we deal with stress differently and react to things in our own way. You can find a list of resources below to help you help someone you care for.
Being kind and compassionate is extremely beneficial for mental health. By providing others with support, you’ll be able to help them manage their stress and anxiety.
Let’s work towards building a healthier and happier society! Pick up the phone and start telling your family and friends, and even your colleagues and peers, that you’re there for them.
Mental Health Resources
The Mind Faculty
A private mental health clinic offering a wide-range of psychiatric, psychological, counselling and complementary therapies.
Contact Number: 03 6203 0359 / 03 6203 0733
A not-for-profit organisation providing emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to people who are lonely, in distress, in despair, and having suicidal thoughts – without charge.
Hotline Number: 03 7956 8145
The Malaysian Mental Health Association
A non-profit voluntary organisation established to promote mental health awareness and public mental well-being.
Contact Number: 03 2780 6803
Women’s Aid Organization
Provides free and confidential services to survivors of domestic violence, rape and other forms of violence.
Hotline Number: 03 7956 3488
2020 has been hard on us all. It’s forced us out of our comfort zones, feeling discomfort every time we leave the house. It’s had us stuck at home, some of us alone, giving us an unhealthy amount of time to dwell on our fearful thoughts.
With four months left of the year, there’s a sliver of hope we can’t help but to hold onto – that this is almost over and we’ll be able to celebrate the new year as survivors. But not all of us are feeling that optimistic.
The pandemic has affected us all in different ways. Some of us might still be struggling and that’s okay. Look around you – who might that be? It’s time to check in on your loved ones.
According to Jade Goh, the Director of Clinical Services at The Mind Faculty, the signs of depression include (but are not limited to):
- Withdrawing from friends and family
Have your friends been ghosting you? You might notice them making plans, cancelling and then making plans again – but when the time comes, they ignore your calls and texts.
- Zoning out and being unable to focus
What about when you’re with your friends – do any of them seem disconnected from the conversation? Like they’re physically there but mentally somewhere else.
- Loss of motivation
Has anyone been bailing on workouts or continuously calling in sick to work?
- They don’t enjoy doing the things they use to do
How about when you try cheering them up – did the usual work? Or were they not even in the mood for their favorite food and feel-good movie.
- Unable to control their emotions
Do you find your friends crying more easily? Anger is also a symptom of depression, so they might be snapping at their loved ones too.
- Feeling helpless or overwhelmed by daily tasks
This is the most common sign of depression – they’re unable to get out of bed and not because they slept late.
If any of these behaviors seem familiar to you, reach out to them! We’re all facing the same crisis and we can be more empathetic towards each other.
If you’re able to, help out a friend who might be struggling with their mental health. Even if they’re just having a bad day, there’s no harm in showing your support.
Let your loved ones know that you’re there for them during these challenging times. You can follow The Mind Faculty on Instagram for more professional advice and mental health support.
If you’ve been feeling stressed or anxious lately – don’t worry, it’s normal. With how uncertain things have been, we’ve lost the sense of security that comes with planning and understanding, to the unpredictability of the coronavirus.
The fear of the unknown is real – it’s affected our mental health by causing negative emotions such as anger, distress, anxiety and depression. Even before the pandemic, the National Health and Morbidity survey saw every three in 10 adults struggling from mental health issues. This makes it the second biggest health concern in Malaysia after heart disease, but why does it seem so uncommon?
The stigma towards mental health still exists on a global scale with many people experiencing negative attitudes and discrimination against their mental illnesses. In Malaysia, this is shaped by the superstitions and misconceptions ingrained in our culture.
As a result of the social stigma, most people have chosen to suffer in silence rather than seek help in such an intimidating environment. This is where you can make a difference by checking in on your family and friends and offering them a safe space to talk about their struggles.
In conjunction with Suicide Prevention Week, we’ve teamed up with The Mind Faculty to provide Malaysians with tips on talking to someone who might be struggling with their mental health. Our #There4UMY campaign aims to encourage the public to pick up the phone and check in on their loved ones during this tough time.
The Mind Faculty
We understand that talking about mental health can be hard – Jade Goh, the Director of Clinical Services at The Mind Faculty, has shared her professional advice to help guide and normalize these conversations. She is continuously looking at ways to make mental health services more accessible and founded the TMF Academy Fund and the Associate Practitioner program.
The Mind Faculty is a private mental health clinic in Solaris Mont Kiara with over 20 practitioners. They offer a wide-range of psychiatric, psychological, counselling and complementary therapies.
You can find out more about The Mind Faculty and their services here.
Over the next few days, we’ll be covering how to spot the signs of depression in others and what you can do to support someone who is affected. Help us share the campaign on social media with the hashtag #There4UMY! Together we can create a more compassionate culture that empowers individuals to confidently talk about mental health.