Grief impacts our brains
Grief can impact our ability to concentrate, make decisions, find things, or think clearly.
You may have heard of “baby brain,” where new parents experience memory lapses and absent-mindedness during early parenthood. Cognitive effects of grief are sometimes referred to as “grief brain” or “grief fog.” Grief can impact our ability to concentrate and make decisions. It can be difficult to think clearly and remember things. Items might be misplaced more often. Names forgotten. Tasks undone.
I definitely felt like, that, the stress and the shock, especially initially, impacted my ability to focus, my ability to get things done. Um, it felt like I had always an insurmountable pile of trivial things to do.
I didn't have time to think deeply, uh, about ... I think that was part of why the future seemed so emorphous. I, I couldn't think that abstractly or that deeply about anything. There was too many, uh, little things like are there diapers in the house (laughs).
Um, I couldn't believe it when I had the realization that you could go in the grocery store and buy two gallons of milk at one time and they wouldn't stop you - like that's okay. (Laughs). I didn't have to go to the store every other day. I could buy two gallons of milk at one time. Wow. Uh, there of the- those kinds of moments. Um, even after it got easier, I have experienced attention and focus issues specifically when I'm at work.
Be gentle and patient.
Whether you are grieving or supporting someone who is grieving, understand that cognitive effects are normal in grief.
“If you think of the mind as having 100 circuits of energy, grief takes up 99 of those. Grief is like your brain turning this information over and over and over and trying to find a place where it fits. It’s not going to fit, but your mind is trying to make it so. It’s trying to make this story work out in a way that is acceptable. How do you make this death acceptable? You can’t, but your brain's working on it, which means that you have one unit of energy left for everything else."Megan Devine, Psychotherapist and author of It's OK that You’re Not OK