February 2010 Issue Vol 1, Issue 8


I Did Not Know 

What To Say  



WELCOME EVERYONE!  Our online community is growing and we are honored to have you be a part of the journey.


We would like to express our deep gratitude to BeliefNet.com for featuring our website on their Inspirational Report blog on February 9, 2010 and to Jill Rheaume, for featuring our interview titled Stress and Dealing with Loss on her website Ourstressfullives.com.

Are you on FACEBOOK?  We invite you to become a FAN of I Did Not Know What to Say.


Our featured article this month by Mark Miller M. D. will explore how to distinguish between depression and grief.  Mark Miller, M. D.is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Western Psychiatric Institute and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Medical Director of The Late Life Depression Evaluation and Treatment Center, co-author of "Living Longer Depression Free" (A Family Guide to Recognizing, Treating and Preventing Depression in Later Life), and serves as Chair of the Board for the Good Grief Center for Bereavement Support.


Each month our newsletter will feature a new article giving you a different perspective on how to assist your friends and family through the grieving process. Please feel free to pass our newsletter on to anyone that may benefit from our articles and inspirational messages.
Have a suggestion or a story you would like to share?  We would love to hear from you.
With Love & Gratitude,

"You can't wrap love in a box, but you can wrap a person in a hug." ~Author Unknown

In This Issue
Featured Article
Good Grief Center
Thoughtful Gift Ideas
Upcoming Events
About Us
Quick Links
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Featured Article of the Month
 By Mark D. Miller M.D.

Short answer: no.

George Engel, a famous psychiatrist said: "grief is not a disease but it can become one." The grieving process is universal, and normal for all who lose a loved one. It occurs in every culture and has been documented throughout history. Grieving can be painful, but that does not mean that grief is an illness like major depression.

We all get "the blues" or feel "down" occasionally but it passes in a day or so and doesn't interfere with our ability work or keep up our household chores. Even though many people say "I'm feeling depressed today", mental health professions call this "little d" depression. In contrast, "BIG D" depression or major depression, is a different animal. Major depression is a state of illness, in a similar way that pneumonia is a state of illness, and it can be every bit as serious, even fatal. Lasting two weeks or more, major depression includes persistent sadness or loss of pleasure accompanied by a distinct change in bodily functioning (insomnia, decreased appetite, weight loss, trouble concentrating, guilty feelings, poor motivation to do normal activities, and in the worst case, thoughts of death or suicide). It may have started out as a state of mind, but it can become an illness of the whole person; mind and body. An additional point for the elderly: aches or pains from arthritis for example, will be magnified in intensity during depression. The good news is that major depression is highly treatable. Modern antidepressant medications are safe, effective and have far fewer side effects than ever before.

Some of the signs of grieving can look similar to major depression. Grievers often feel sad, irritable, nervous, worried, angry, guilty, and they can have trouble sleeping and keeping up with work and their other usual activities. How can depression and grief be distinguished? Should they be handled differently?

The grieving process is the emotional digestion of the role or roles the deceased played in the life of the griever. Legacies, children, years of shared life experiences, and memories (good and bad) often need to be reviewed and re-filed in memory in a safe location that allows the griever to move on to a new life without the deceased. Even one's concept of identity can be shaken up by the death of someone important. In short, grieving is work. It requires energy, a safe place to express it and enough time to work it through.

The time course is important to note in distinguishing grief and depression. Grieving is most intense right after the death and over the ensuing weeks and months it lessens in intensity. The process of working through the loss takes time and it can be painful as well as joyful or anger provoking. During the grieving process it is common to neglect some duties, feel preoccupied, feel sad, and feel like searching for or hanging on to mementos or reminders of the deceased person. The work of grieving can go on for a lifetime but usually at far lower levels of intensity and it becomes more intermittent than constant over time.

Supportive friends or family can help the grieving process along by encouraging the grieving person to talk. Any of the above should be fair game for discussion. Most grievers don't know what to expect and have never felt like this before. For some, the comforting support of others who have experienced grief can be immensely helpful. Organizations like the Good Grief Center (412-224-4700) can provide a listening ear, validation, educational resources, and if necessary, referrals to other sources of help. Sometimes, professional help is indicated.

Now let's consider depression and grieving together. If you take a snapshot of a griever on any given day, they might appear to look depressed but this might just be their "grief work" going on. Can grief turn into major depression? You bet it can. This is what was meant when George Engle said "grief is not a disease but it can become one". Research has shown that up to 50% of grievers can enter a state of major depression at some point in their grieving. Those who endured prior episodes of major depression are at higher risk. Professional help should be obtained if a change from grief to major depression is suspected.

There are many helpful places to turn for help with grief and depression concerns. No one need suffer alone; no one need go without assistance or guidance.

Mark D. Miller, M.D.

Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Western Psychiatric Institute and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Medical Director of The Late Life Depression Evaluation and Treatment Center, co-author of "Living Longer Depression Free" (A Family Guide to Recognizing, Treating and Preventing Depression in Later Life), and serves as Chair of the Board for the Good Grief Center for Bereavement Support (www.goodgriefcenter.com).
Good Grief Center
Good Grief CenterWe would like to thank the Good Grief Center for providing the featured article this month and for their ongoing support.
The Good Grief Center for Bereavement Support Mission
To be a comprehensive bereavement resource and referral center that builds a more compassionate community through grief awareness, education, support and hope; creating a safe place where all who have experienced the pain of death may come to work through loss and learn to manage grief.
 Visit our website for additional Grief Support Resources.
This Month's Inspiration - The Olympic Spirit
The Olympic Spirit
by Lori Pederson

I have to admit that I am a bit of an Olympic Games junkie.  The Olympics have always inspired my inner spirit.  The powerful force that penetrates through the Olympics makes me feel like I can do anything, even jump on the slope with my skis and ride like the wind to victory at the bottom of the hill.  It is invigorating for the heart and the mind. 


After the summer Olympics a few years ago, I found that I was swimming four times a week, trying each time to beat my previous record.  I may not be young enough or athletic enough to be an Olympic Champion but I can try to beat my personal best each year.


It is always amazing to watch someone give their all to win a Gold Medal.  But what is even more inspiring to me, are the athletes that overcome a major defeat by coming back the next day or four years later, demonstrating that they have stepped up their game and have overcome their fears.


I believe we all have a bit of the Olympic Spirit within us.  We are all trying to win our own personal Gold Medal by overcoming our fears and getting back up after life hands us a devastating blow.  It is our willingness to get up and strive for a better life that makes us a champion.



"It is the inspiration of the Olympic Games that drives people not only to compete but to improve, and to bring lasting spiritual and moral benefits to the athlete and inspiration to those lucky enough to witness the athletic dedication."


Herb Elliott quotes (Australian middle-distance Runner who was world record holder in the 1.500 metre (metric-mile) race (1958-67) and the mile racee (1958-62). b.1938)

Thoughtful Sympathy Gift Ideas
Visit our Thoughtful Gifts page for sympathy gifts ideas for your loved ones.
Now until the end of February, the Comfort Company and Personal Creations are offering special discounts.  Please visit our Thoughtful Gifts page for links to these discounts. 
We hope the thoughtful gifts listed on our website inspire you to give warmth and joy to your friends and family in their time of need.
Upcoming Events
Viritual Interviews 
Posted on November 8, 2009
- Author, Jean Reagan - Always My Brother
Posted on December 1, 2009 - Author, Marcy Kelly - From Sorrow to Dancing
If you are an author or an expert in the grief recovery field and would like to be interviewed, please contact us at info@ididnotknowwhattosay.com.

To order these books and preview other inspirational books, be sure to visit our Helpful Books page.
About I Did Not Know What To Say.com & Lori Pederson
LoriLori Pederson created I Did Not Know What To Say in April 2009 as a platform to inspire and provide resources to people that wanted to help their friends and family through the grieving process. 
Lori's expertise comes from those experiences that only life can provide.  Over the past twenty years, Lori has lost many family members, including her mother to ovarian cancer, as well as many friends, colleagues and pets.  She is no stranger to loss and the grieving process.
Throughout her life she has been blessed with many friends and relatives that were there for her as she experienced these great losses. She understands that although people want to help, they often don't know where to start.  I Did Not Know What To Say.com was created out of Lori's desire to assist people find the words when they don't know what to say or do.
You can learn more about Lori and her organization by visiting www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com, reading her personal Blog or contacting her at:
Lori Pederson
Each week we will be adding new inspirational stories and resources to our website and Blog.   Help us reach our goal of providing inspiration and insight to the world by sharing your story or resource with our online community.  We would love to hear from you! 
Please email us your inspirational stories, letters/cards that have reached your heart, a favorite quote, an unforgettable adventure, a thoughtful gift idea, a book that touched your life, or a suggestion for our website or newsletter to info@ididnotknowwhattosay.com.
If you are an author or expert in the field of grief recovery, we would love to interview you for our Blog and/or one of our upcoming newsletters.

If you have a website, Blog or newsletter, we ask that you consider including our information on your site.  Here is the link:
I Did Not Know What To Say
IDidNotKnowWhatToSay.com is a website designed to inspire and provide you with tools to assist a love one through the grieving process.
With Love & Gratitude, 
Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say
Copyright 2010' I Didn't Know What To Say(TM) Newsletter.  All Rights Reserved.