Depression is the fourth stage people experience when facing a terminal illness or loss of a relationship. It is that overwhelming feeling of loss and no sight of the light at the end of the tunnel kind of depression. It is painful, so painful it is sometimes impossible to cry or talk about it. It is a period of time where nothing matters... not eating, not dressing, not bathing....and it can last hours, days, or months. It inhibits one from moving on to the last stage, and for this time frame, it appears to others that all hope is gone.
Understanding this phase helps others to be patient, encouraging, and to take over tasks that the patient or child simply has no energy to do. Realize that the actual dying process can last months or years depending on the diagnosis, and the depression should not last for that same amount of time. Be there to listen and comfort during this period of sadness. Prepare meals or snacks and offer frequently. Seek the assistance of the health care team if the depression seems to last or if the patient goes without eating for a long period of time. Most importantly, give it time. The final stage of the process is just around the corner... and that is where the best is yet to come.