In my practice helping people with grief, I work with my clients’ thoughts, feelings and behaviors experienced due to loss. Much of the time my understanding of grief comes from other grief specialists’ research and literature, lectures, podcasts, workshops, my own grief experience or from clients. Now having lost my dad just recently, I’m freshly here, and this time noting these 5 perceptions in my grief journey and actions I take to handle them.

1) Everything Takes 10 times longer

Yes it does. Like everything does, or it feels like it does, including mundane things like taking a shower or feeding the dogs. Science says that when we grieve it affects the area of the brain that provides the cognitive ability to think and do a task. So yes this is hard for me who likes to be efficient and get things done timely and quickly. I’m annoyed by this, and then I take a deep breath and say, yep, this is grief.

Lesson I relearned – Time management adjustments. This retardation won’t last forever, so now I just have to accept that it’s going to take me longer to do things and plan for that time. Even though this bugs me, I’m also relieved that I can just take my time with things, and I’m giving myself a break on this quality that I used to value in myself.

2) Decreased Patience – so now add that things take longer and I have less tolerance for things taking longer. So great. I have to watch my reactions to this and other things that tax my patience and try not to react in rude abrasive ways to people around me who are also grieving and impatient.

Lesson I relearned: I find deep breaths and moving somehow– walking, doing chores or something with my hands is helpful to release the energy behind the frustration. And prayer, often while moving and doing.

3) Major Fatigue – I’ll have energy for a bit then I’m like, man, I need to sit down. I’m tired. This scares and frustrates me because I’m worried I’ll get (more) out of shape, or I’ll not do something that needs to get done. God forbid I don’t get something done!!!

Lesson Relearned – This is common for people who are grieving and there really aren’t many things that can’t wait. If I really need to do it, I can rally my support and either ask someone else to do it or do it later.

4) Everything seems like so much effort – Might be partially due to the fatigue and cognitive disruption but it’s an effort to brush my teeth or eat or talk to someone.

Lesson learnedDo it anyway. Yes it takes work and effort but just do it. Though I may need to lay down afterward for a bit. And give myself a compliment for having done it. I know it sounds ridiculous to say,” Yay you ate lunch!” but I’m doing it anyway.

5) Social withdrawal – It’s real and weird for me being a super social and outgoing person. So I am very grateful to have friends and want to keep them as friends but I don’t feel like interacting with them physically or virtually. Especially in groups, like zoom meetings or group texts (in the times of Covid-19 restrictions). And it’s hard to initiate anything, even a text.

Things relearned –One to one brief phone call, text, or social distance walk (Covid-19 restrictions) is nice. These bring moments of joy and distraction to my day. Friends are wonderful and will understand and forgive my distance. And I appreciate them initiating the interaction, so I’ll tell them that.

One helpful aspect about my fresh grief is it really puts me in close touch with my clients’ experience. Grief is an individual experience and like a fingerprint is unique, and each loss is unique. So even though I’m in my own grief, I can talk about their grief and it’s ok. I did need some time immediately following the loss to help myself regulate my own emotions, but after that I found that I could really be there for my clients. I find this intensified empathy beneficial. And for this, I’m grateful.

17821 E. 17th Street Unit #260
Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 941-2257

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