My Grief Care

Foundations Of Grief

14 Episodes

Episode 4 : The Brain Fog of Grief


Episode Notes

The Brain Fog of Grief

Did you know there was such a thing as “grief brain?” It impacts your cognitive abilities. You know you have it when you put your keys in the freezer, the ice cream in the pantry or, in my situation, I paid for gas and then drove away before pumping it into my car.

Okay, so we all have stories like that – when we are not paying attention or are distracted. But something does happen to our brain during grief and it takes grievers longer to respond to things. Our brain is not working at full capacity and we need to recognize that, as it can get frustrating and discouraging because we don’t understand why we are having problems focusing. It is easy for us and those around us to forget that we may have suffered a tremendous life-altering loss and yet we wonder why we aren’t functioning normally.

I like to say we are suffering from the “Four D’s:”

  • Disorganized
  • Distracted
  • Disoriented
  • Distraught

So what can you do about it?

  1. Remind yourself that you are normal! What’s that? Yes, normal! This is a normal and common reaction to an extraordinary loss.
  2.  Lower your expectations. You are not going to be able to be as fast and focused. Don’t put as much on your plate. Lessen your load where you can. Handoff responsibilities where you can, get help and, in some cases, get someone to check your work.
  3.  Give yourself extra time to do things, get places and get things done. Even reading can take longer because we don’t process as quickly.
  4.  Make lists. Keep something with you at all times. If you want to use your phone or a notepad, that’s great. I encourage you to keep a pad and pen by your bed. My problem was I would make a list and then lose it.
  5.  Give yourself grace. You should not be operating on all cylinders. If someone had a broken leg, you would not expect them to walk as fast as they used to. Well, we have broken hearts and we need a time of recovery, too. It’s not an injury that is seen, but it’s there. This grief brain can come and go, so don’t think you will be done with it after a month or after the service. One year after my husband died was particularly tough for me, and in a two-week period, I hit things with my car 3 times. I backed into poles and a parking lot pillar that was easy to see. I have two cars and I dented them both. I got one fixed right away and then dented the same spot. I was frustrated with myself. And I was embarrassed. I had never hit anything before. Now, I would tell myself to laugh and give myself grace.

Grief brain is not forever. It comes and goes during your recovery period as your body is trying to adapt. It’s important to remember that there is nothing wrong with you.! 


Now that you understand the impact of grief brain, where can you lower expectations or give yourself some grace?

How can you look at some things differently? (realizing you need more time or you can’t do everything)


The brain fog of grief is a natural part of grieving.  Your mind is preoccupied with sadness, loneliness and other emotions which leaves little room for your cognitive functions, memory and concentration.  This is normal and common, even though it is frustrating.