Memory Loss, Focus, and Grief Brain

I am a member of two online support groups for loss Widowed Village and Option B. Finding people who are going through the same things is comforting to me. Often in this process I feel like I am losing my mind. I have a hard time with words. I always considered myself pretty good at words and communication (in the words of David Spade and David Letterman on two separate occasions “I fancy myself quite a wordsmith”). What came so easy before, I have to think about now. I can tell you a story and forget the word “toaster” or “shoe” randomly. Words I know. Words we use daily.


I love my job and I find that it brings me value as a person that I do not feel I have right now in my personal life. (If you read yesterday you will probably understand that). I can try to complete a task at work that I know I need to get done but the enormity of doing it can overwhelm me. My lack of FOCUS is new for me. I am usually so on everything. I always had a little bit of ADD but this is more pronounced. Working 8 full hours full throttle is just not easy anymore. I am not breaking down and crying all day. I just find it harder to remain on task. I can get on a conference call and forget who I am talking to about which topic whereas before I could never be stumped. Making lists to keep me on point does seem to help. Finding time off is important so I can decompress. I am looking forward to a few days off end of June.

I need to be reminded of plans I make so that I do not forget to be there. I almost missed something the other day because the person forgot to remind me until 25 minutes before. It was embarrassing for me at first because I felt like I was slipping. But, I have started to own the way that I am and be honest with people.

Sometimes I cannot focus on long winded explanations or stories so I may come off as not interested. It is not the case I am trying but sometimes thoughts or images come into my mind while you are talking to me and I get DISTRACTED.

I know who you are but I cannot recall right now. It is hard to place you and how I know you. Introduce yourself again.

Grief Brain is real but we should not be embarrassed by it. So what if someone laughs at your for forgetting a word like happened to me. They have no idea what we are doing to try to process everything coming at us. On top of the normal grief brain if you were to add a traumatic component to the grief it is said that is another layer of processing your brain is trying to do. I will talk more about EMDR next blog post because this topic has been coming up more. Grieving and Trauma means you are trying to go through all the files and images to put together your thoughts, sentences, words. We just have more files and images and often the ones we need are in the cabinet deep down underneath old papers. EMDR can help you tap into these older papers and file away the things you are not needing at the moment.

How can you help a grief brain person?

  • Patience
  • Email a reminder about plans or information that you did not receive back yet
  • Ask the person how they want to communicate (messenger, work messaging programs, email accounts, texts, calls, twitter, Facebook posts) we are ALL everyone one of us over stimulated with ways to communicate and things get missed. Now add to that grief, loss, trauma and its one big web of miscommunication
  • Don’t laugh when we cannot complete a thought or word we are really frustrated maybe offer the word instead and show kindness.
  • If we seem to forget a name or face of someone approaching and you are with us read our cue’s and help us out. We may have relied on our spouse to play the role in the past and they are no longer able to help us.

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