You know that feeling that you’re walking around in a fog, when the world seems distant and you’re just not part of it? Or when you are trying to remember exactly why you walked into a room while you just stand there looking around? That feeling is often called “brain fog” and sometimes it is so bad it can seem like you’re going crazy.
Grief is one of the causes of brain fog, because not only are you sad and missing the person or thing you’ve lost, but you’re brain is preoccupied by the “what if” and “if only” thoughts that are a normal and natural reaction to loss. You aren’t going crazy, and there are ways you can help yourself focus, but you will benefit from staying with the feelings for a while so they can be completed. If not, they are sure to creep back in, often when you least expect it.
Russell Friedman of The Grief Recovery Institute writes:
When your heart is broken your head doesn’t work right.
No, you’re not crazy. For most people, the immediate response to the awareness of the death of someone important to them is a sense of numbness. After that initial numbness wears off, the most common physiological reaction is a reduced ability to concentrate. The rest of the world goes out of focus. Nothing else is important. It is normal and natural that your entire being is centered on what happened and your relationship with the person who died.
The length of time that the reduced ability to concentrate lasts is individual and can vary from a few days to several months, and even longer. It is not a sign that there’s something wrong with you. Realistically, the fact that the emotional impact of the death of that person has altered your day-to-day routines indicates something very healthy. It would make no sense for you not to be affected by the death.
It is normal to drift out of focus in response to conscious or unconscious memories of the person who died. Please be gentle with yourself in allowing that your focus is not on the actions of life, but on your reactions to a death. If you’re at work, you can take little “grief breaks” as needed. It’s a good idea to establish a safe person at work whom you can talk to when and if you get overwhelmed. It’s also smart to have a phone pal you can call when the emotions keep you from concentrating. The breaks and chats will make you able to do the work you need to do.
Along with not being able to concentrate, your thinking ability and judgment may be limited. That’s why grieving people are advised to be careful about making major life decisions in the aftermath of the death of someone important to them. To put it in simple terms, when your heart is broken, your head doesn’t work right. You must take care either not to make big decisions until you regain your ability to focus, or make sure you have people you trust to help you understand your choices and the consequences of what you decide.”
So, be gentle with yourself, stay connected to friends, and know that it’s normal to feel this way when you’ve lost someone or something important. It may also help if you can work through the emotional aspects of grief with a partner or coach using The Grief Recovery Handbook by John James and Russell Friedman, or join a Grief Recovery® Outreach Group near you.
Read the rest of this article at Psychology Today.
Thanks. I thought I was going crazy.
Kelly Means says
Thank you this is very helpful. I appreciate it ??
My father passed in Feb 2018; my brother is mentally ill, and my mom passed in 2012. I am having to grow through as an emotional orphan. There are days when my sadness bounces around like a rollercoster, and I have not been able to get through grief fog yet. I receive comfort from my step-family. I still cannot push through the grief fog. There are many times when I have to push own my thoughts along to the point of exhaustion. Thank you.
This was very helpful, thanks very much.