Extreme Grief May Cause Brain Fog

The past year has been one of drastic shifts in the daily lives of most people, coupled for some with a loss of income, loved ones or for some older adults, possibly the death of a spouse.  Grief can have a significant impact on mental well-being long after a lifelong partner dies, often leaving the remaining spouse with a chronic case of “widow fog” also known as brain fog.  

For widows and widowers who spent most of their adults lives relying on their spouse as a life partner, brain fog resulting from the loss of a husband or wife is a common condition following such a traumatic event.  The grief, especially when a loss is unexpected or sudden, can result in a shutting down of sorts – the brain and body’s means of coping with a significant death.  

Widows and widowers frequently say they are “in a fog” after the death of their spouse.  They may have trouble remembering where important papers are kept, lose interest in basic daily activities or have difficulty making decisions.  The trauma of a serious loss often causes a deep sense of fatigue while the body tries to heal itself.  

With time, in a few months, most people will find the fog begins to lift and they are able to start functioning better and begin to move forward.  Finding a support group or reading about recovering from a traumatic loss can help.  Connecting with others who are supportive and understanding of your situation is often beneficial.  The hazy feeling after a significant loss and lack of concentration or forgetfulness is a protective function of the brain that helps people cope by lifting the brain’s processing load a tad. 

According to a recent Next Avenue Media report, because the mind and body are so connected, using movement along with mindfulness and perhaps meditation can help pull individuals through the fog.  Finding pleasure in walking, spending time in nature, or listening to music may bring small moments of joy and happiness again and start the process of moving forward and thinking with more clarity. 

Patience, plenty of extra rest, a healthy diet, and perhaps even a sense of humor when you are looking frantically for the sunglasses that are perched on top of your head, will help make life a little more bearable as the brain recovers and the healing begins.   To learn more about how extreme grief and stress may affect your brain, follow this link to the COPE Foundation website.