I lost my sister to terminal cancer

Last year I lost my sister to terminal cancer. She had been battling with cancer for three years until she died early last year. A year has passed since her death and I feel no better. University seems completely irrelevant. I used to be an excellent student. I just don’t see the point anymore. My feelings frustrate me no end, as I desperately want to move on and have a normal life again. But nothing that I have tried has worked. I am a singer and I have many gigs that require me to have a great energy on stage, but I feel nothing now. My outlet has become a burden. What do I do?

It sounds like you have been through an emotionally gruelling four years. Your sister’s “battle” must have been very hard for those close to her. This experience can leave you emotionally exhausted and made it hard to reconnect with what used to seem important.

I am concerned that you may have become depressed. You refer to the absence of feeling and meaning. The fact that study and singing which have been sources of joy and nourishment to you have lost their appeal to the point where they feel “irrelevant and a “burden”, is of great concern.

Distinguishing between grief and depression isn’t always easy since they share many symptoms. However there are some differences. Grief is often experienced as like being on an emotional roller coaster, awash with feelings, and a mix of good and bad days. Even when you’re in the middle of the grieving process, you will experience moments of pleasure or happiness. However with depression, the feelings of emptiness and despair are fairly constant.

Although you have tried very hard to carry on and resume your normal life, now may be the time to get some professional help. I would encourage you to come and see us at the Counselling Service or alternatively see your local doctor.