Since entering my season of grief in December, it has felt like I’m in a fog, specifically brain fog. Creative ideas typically flow out of me like Niagara Falls, gushing forth with everything from blog posts to sermons, to team meeting ideas, to books, to articles, to how to solve problems. These days, it’s like my brain is a mish-mash of sludge.
A message that would take me a few hours to write is taking weeks to hone to the place where I’m comfortable with “putting it to bed” as I call it. I keep looking at a message thinking, “Nope, it’s just not right yet.” I’ve been looking for an illustration for a sermon for weeks, and the right one just won’t come to me. In the past, I would have had five illustrations jockeying for position in my brain. I look in sermon helps online and that is no asset either as I’m finding things that just don’t strike my fancy. I don’t believe any of them are really going to hit home with the listener.
I’m tired, exhausted actually — and life is not stopping for my grief.
I know it doesn’t stop for anyone’s grief.
I’m no one special.
I’m just speaking for myself as it’s what I’m dealing with right now.
I’m so tired that I feel like I could sleep for a few years and not even care that I missed anything.
I haven’t heard a lot about feeling in the fog when you are grieving, so I looked it up.
Sure enough, it’s a thing.
A site entitled Choosing Therapy explains it this way:
“Everyone deals with grief after the death of a loved one. This emotion can become overwhelming and debilitating in numerous ways. A lesser-known phenomenon is called grief brain. Experts describe it as your brain being overloaded with thoughts of grief, sadness, loneliness, etc. Grief brain affects memory, concentration, and cognition. Your brain is focused on the feelings and symptoms of grief, leaving little room for everyday tasks.”
These days I find myself asking God to help get me through this day rather than feeling like I wake up slaying the day.
I want so badly to be back to my former self.
A self that is a morning person, who feels boundless energy when arising and can’t wait to attack the day’s initiatives.
A self that has a sharp mind, particularly in the mornings, and can make decisions rapid-fire and is usually right on point.
A self that is not so irritable, more patient, and caring.
A self that can weather disappointments better, not taking each one so hard.
I wonder when she will show up again.
The Choosing Therapy site talks about how long the grief brain lasts:
“Although there are universal symptoms associated with grief brain as outlined above, everyone experiences grief in their own way. There is no definitive time period associated with grief. However, it’s generally more challenging to recover from grief for people who have a history of depression.”
That news isn’t quite as hopeful for those of us who suffer with depression but thankfully they do give some helps, among them:
Journaling (Check! I do this and wholeheartedly sing the praises of its value.)
Getting Support (I have a lot of support in my life. I’m so thankful.)
Engaging in self-care (I’m getting better at it. I’m good at everything from bubble baths to a day off. What I’m not good at is saying NO.)
Meditating (I do this, by meditating on God’s Word and with soaking worship)
Being patient with oneself (Not so good at this.)
Getting counseling (I do this.)
Identifying, Reducing, or eliminating stressors in my life (Hardest thing. Not done. Honestly, it feels hopeless.)
Challenging Negative Thought Patterns (Need to work on this. I’m so much of a realist.)
Making something meaningful out of grief and loss (This is a priority for me. It’s called redemption!)
Connecting with Spirituality or Faith (Check! Done!)
So there you have it, just a bit about what I’m learning about grief brain, and fog.
If you’re going through this, know you’re not alone. I’m right here alongside you in the fog, but praying it will clear soon and I’ll get back to full capacity. If you’re reading this and it resonates with you, know that I am praying for you. I pray for everyone who reads anything I write. I know you have a zillion choices to choose from out there, and if you chose me, well…you’re pretty special to me. So, my prayers are with you now and always.