Grief Brain

My little Mom looking tiny in a blue sweater and jeans sitting on a tan leather couch below two big framed posters of doorways in Italy

It appears that I still have something called Grief Brain.

It’s a phenomenon that occurs during the grieving process and it’s a type of brain fog. When I explained my symptoms to Erin Davis, she knew it all too well and identified it immediately: Grief Brain. I can only now see the impact it has had on me because it’s just starting to ease. And then it comes roaring back again.

The Henry Ford Health System explains in this post how grief affects the brain, and what you can do to offset it. It starts with understanding that you’re not yourself and being gentle with yourself.

My Mom wearing a Big Bang Theory apron that reads Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock, and making the Live-long-and-prosper hand signal from Star Trek

Mom died on September 21st. I moved back from her condo a week after that. Since then, my brother and I (with help) have sold and cleared out her home & given away her car. Dealt with her bills and accounts and cards. And informed the government, which was a pleasant experience, to my surprise. And her bank, which has been anything but pleasant. There are lawyers and accountants and – if you’ve been through it, you know the drill. All the while, you’re deeply missing the one you lost.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought, “Mom needs to see this”, or “I can’t wait to tell Mom”. The brain plays that painful trick and then as if to protect you, it decides to stop working as efficiently. I’ve done some dumb things and forgotten other important things because my mind was elsewhere. Reminders of her are planted throughout my life. And I want to remember her, vividly, forever. But it hurts. There are times when I want to scream aloud, “I WANT TO TALK TO MY MOM”! But that does nothing to help anyone, so I look for something to occupy me until it passes.

I will always remember the first time I thought about her and smiled instead of cried. I slopped some water on the floor. When Mom wiped up such a spill she’d always say in a self-deprecating way, “Well, now there’s a clean spot”! A couple of days later, Erin Napier and her Mom making curtains together on HGTV’s Hometown forced me to leave the room so I could have a good bawl. It’s inconsistent and that’s just how it goes.

I understand why people mark the anniversaries of their loved one’s deaths. One of my fave stores, Birdie’s Nest, has a whole section dedicated to remembering people who have passed on. Also, I get why so many believe in the classic version of heaven in the clouds somewhere. The thought of never seeing someone so important again is almost too much to bear.

Once we’re past the firsts, I hope it will get easier. The first Christmas without her was hard. (My brother being kept home by a Covidiot coworker made it harder.) Her birthday will come in July. My consciousness still hasn’t fully absorbed that she’s gone for good. How can there be a world without my Mom? This is something so many people have known for so long, but you never really get it until it’s your Mom.

So, if you’ve found yourself in a state of loss and wonder why you can’t function as you did, know that it’s temporary. When your grief isn’t as overwhelming, your brainpower will come back. I’m saying that to me as well as you, as I await and anticipate full restoration of whatever intelligence and thought power I used to have, during before times, when I still had my Mom.

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