One of the nation’s biggest shows on TV this Fall is ABC’s ‘Scandal’ with over 10 million viewers tuning in to the season premier. Due to its extreme popularity, this show is a platform for many social issues and taboo topics. This is why I was excited to see the show spotlight depression and complicated grief.
During the first and second episodes of Season 4, we see one of the shows main characters, First Lady Mellie Grant, struggling to cope with the death of her teenage child. She is unable to attend social events, maintain friendships or even get dressed. Life as she knew it has been completely shattered, leaving her broken and unable to piece herself together again.
According to the American Psychological Association, depression affects nearly 17 million Americans each year, and the likelihood of women developing this illness is doubled compared to men, the loss of a child increases that risk even further. According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, bereaved mothers were 80 percent more likely to suffer their first psychiatric episode. The risk was strongest within the first year of the loss and continued to remain high throughout the following five years. Along with depression, parents are also likely to display manic symptoms such as not sleeping, eating and unable to accept their loss.
When a woman’s identity as a mother and caretaker is ripped away, she may begin to question her purpose in life. Like Mellie, many women feel as though they are going through the loss alone, even when surrounded by those who are grieving too. They are inconsolable and tend to isolate themselves, self-medicate or turn to other destructive coping methods to numb the pain.
The women at Brookhaven Retreat who have experienced the death of a child arrive broken and unable to live life. Their grief has become complicated and deep, crippling their emotional and mental health. The death of a child is commonly considered the worst grief a person can go through.
Losing a child or close family member will forever remain a part of who we are. It is Earth-shattering and utterly traumatic, a wound that feels impossible to heal: But, through the positive support and therapeutic modalities, finding comfort and peace is possible. Brookhaven Retreat helps women begin the natural healing process by addressing any mental health or substance abuse issues that have transformed normal sorrow into chronic and complicated grief.