The Washington Post had an article today about psychiatrists with ties to drug companies now pushing for the use of anti-depressants for grief. Historically, clinical depression has been looked at as different from the natural grieving process. It has been thought of as normative to feel sad after the death of a loved one or other related loss. Thus, anti-depressants were only prescribed if mourning eventually turned into a clinical depression. But with this shift in perspective (that very well may be financially motivated), the grieving process is being thought of as yet one more thing that needs a pill and instantaneous fix. If after two months a person isn’t feeling better, better prescribe a med.
While medications at times have great value and may provide enough symptom relief to help cope with and process grief, no pill is going to take away the hurt of the human heart. And nothing can rush the healing of deep wounds either. In fact, some wounds never truly heal. We simply learn to manage the symptoms of loss and to suit up and show up despite a heavy heart.
In the old days when someone died, people went into mourning for an entire year. Now we get three days bereavement from our company employer and are told we should be “over it” within a few weeks. Tell that to someone who was married for forty years and just lost her spouse. Tell that to someone who had an abusive childhood. Tell that to someone whose child was just killed in a gun massacre.
I think our culture is the one that is ill.