When faced with the loss of someone you love, it is important and healthy to grieve, and to go through the process at your own time and in your own way. Despite the prevailing notion that there are “stages” or “healthy amounts” of grief, the grieving process is individual: it does not follow the same pattern or take the same amount of time for all people. Given the unique nature of grief, it can be a help and a comfort to have an experienced and caring other as a companion on the grieving journey.
A critical distinction such a companion can help make is that between the grief stemming from the loss of a loved one and the depression that arises from rejection or abandonment. Freud first observed the difference in 1917, in his famous paper, “Mourning and Melancholia,” but despite the extensive writing on this topic in the decades since, an accurate division may sometimes be difficult to make.
This is especially true in cases in which depressive feelings are initially triggered by the loss of someone who was idealized or worshipped. Severe psychological devastation often ensues, the result of both present grief and historic experiences of abandonment. If so, the affective dynamics need to be explored and worked through. This exploration is especially important if there exists, as is often the case with depression, an underlying conviction of defectiveness or unlovability.