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Grief is…Brain Fog - Loss of Routine

October 30, 20233 min read

Grief is…Brain Fog - Loss of Routine

There is an aspect to the grief brain fog that causes you to forget how to do things that before your loss you never thought about. That you did through muscle memory and were automatic and routine.

The first place I noticed it was in the shower. Whether you are aware of it or not, you likely have a routine to the way you shower: shampoo, then conditioner (leave in), wash arms, body , legs and feet, face wash, comb out hair and rinse out conditioner. And one for drying off: face, arms, body front, flip hair, back, legs and feet, wrap hair and flip back. Something like that. In those early days, when I could get myself to the shower, I’d just stand there lost. Then I’d start to move and somethings would get washed. Then I’d have to do an inventory of what I’d done. Did my hair have conditioner in it? Had I used my face wash? Did I remember washing body parts? Often, I had no clue, so I’d start over and silently talk myself through an inventory to make sure the basics were covered. My nighttime routine basically went out the window except for teeth brushing. The multiple steps of creams and serums were just beyond my ability. Anything with multiple steps remains a challenge almost two years later.

I can shower now without thinking about it. I’m back in that routine but I found the same kind of gap somewhere else. I got a cold. In the time of Covid that’s a complicated thing. I went to get tested and was negative. When I’d been sniffing for a couple weeks, I couldn’t figure out why the cold was hanging on. I don’t generally get sick and if I do it passes quickly. I had a whole routine for that. Supplements and magic elixirs that got me back on track. I hadn’t used any of them. Not one. My mind, in its continued fog, hadn’t thought of any of that. When I went looking, I had everything I needed so it wasn’t’ the complex task of shopping that had me stuck. I just hadn’t even thought of it.

Something I’d done for years wasn’t accessible without conscious effort. Kind of like having to talk myself through showering, I had to remember what I did when I got a cold. I think many of us are feeling this way because of the loss of our lifestyles prior to the March of 2020 widespread Covid lockdowns. Over two years later, for many of us, our lives don’t really resemble what they were before. As a collective we are struggling with uncertainty, loneliness, and frustration. We long for a return to normal, whatever normal will be now. If you are also dealing with grief from the loss of a loved one, brains are in a deep fog. Loss brings uncertainty in an already uncertain time. I am rebuilding my life in a time where nothing is what it was in the outside world either. There is little to anchor to, little that feels solid. There is possibility in this space and time too. Possibility that we will collectively rebuild something better, something more equitable and just. Possibility that I can create a life that will bring peace and joy and have meaning without Ben in it. Some days that feels impossible, a Sisyphean task. Other days I get glimpses of lightness, of what’s possible. And I must also consciously remember what I used to do without thinking. Maybe that’s why I’m so tired.

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