EMDR ((Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a technique used by some therapists to help us overcome traumatic situations, images, thoughts, or things affecting us from our past. This is something many PTSD patients find useful. I will explain it to you how I understand and interpret it but you should of course speak with your therapist and specifically one who does study EMDR for additional details.

I had never heard this term before the passing of my husband. Just something else new to learn and understand. My friend brought it to my attention as an effective technique for trauma patients either before or with talk therapy. It is “Tapping” into your left and right brain while you imagine a stressful, traumatic experience. When you go through something traumatic (finding your spouse deceased or combat where a fellow soldier is killed) that image is in the forefront of your mind. You cannot move past it or file it away in your memory bank. It is ALL encompassing. It is all you see.

Ways you can do EMDR:

  • Tapping on the body left and right by a therapist (bilateral stimulation)
  • Music playing in your ears left and right switching
  • Movement of the therapists finger left and right while you follow the finger

I personally chose the physical tapping. I felt that this would be most effective for me and following the finger seemed the most annoying for me. We did try all three techniques out.

I went into the office and we began with thinking of finding my husband passed away in the darkness of night. As I replayed the movie of the October 23rd experience I cried and cried like it was just happening again because for me it felt exactly like it was still happening. Everyday after he died and until the experience of EMDR I replayed the same movie repeatedly and experienced the same fear/shock/paralysis. In the evenings if I was lucky to close my eyes for a brief time I would find myself replaying again and I would be unable to move, get up out of bed, grab a glass of water, etc.

For me this treatment just worked. It worked fast. It blew my mind. It changed my mind. I was so in need of something to work. Everything was so new and raw and I had no preconceived notions on any of this. I replayed the torture of finding him and when that went away it was onto working through the words and statements he made in the few weeks before he passed away, the way he seemed distant and odd and dark. He made a few comments that I would not stop replaying over and over in my head. They killed every chance of me feeling remotely OK, even though there was no chance of that. Things like “you need a husband who goes out more” which was said to me while I was in the shower being happy. Then while we laid in bed with our dogs he said once “you all would be fine without me”.

It is not something that works immediately for everyone and also the degree and length of the experience, and how long ago the experience occurred all factor into how many times you need to replay the scene and go through EMDR.

When it works… you get your mind BACK. It is YOURS again. Now when you want to draw up the traumatic experience it is you recalling this from your memory. It is not sitting there hanging out in front of your face where you cannot push it away.

Please consider trying this. It is by far and away the best thing I did for myself in the early stages. I would still be laying in bed imagining him dead and unable to move if this was not something I did.

This image was posted by https://innerhealingresources.com/emdr/ and I thought you may find it helpful. 






Brain Scans before and after EMDR (this is something my therapist showed me to help explain what is going on up in the mind. Saved from


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.