Resolutions in the Fog of Grief

By: Therese Barrett
Monday, January 6, 2020

RESOLUTIONS IN THE FOG OF GRIEF

Public Information Evening

James Reid Funeral Home

Therese Barrett

January 6th, 2020


You may have managed, with tears and longing, to get through Christmas without your significant person. You may have been surprised that New Year’s Eve was emotionally confusing and difficult. You might experience this as well in the coming day. You may have been anticipating some relief in leaving behind a year marked with memories of loss and pain but may find the new one does not live up to your expectations; instead you may be feeling some anxiety or apprehension.

 

Understand that the coming year also marks time without your loved one. This will be a time when you will start to create memories which do not include your loved one so do not underestimate the power of this process as you strive to move through your grief.

January is a time of New Year resolutions. If you are like me, you have great expectations for yourself during ordinary times. For most of you here this evening, this is not your “Ordinary” time. This is a time of grief and mourning for the significant person missing in your life.


How do we move forward and make resolutions during such a difficult time? Let’s first
understand where we are at right now.


Grief causes a ‘FOG’ to roll into our lives. For those who haven’t heard of ‘GRIEVER’s FOG’,  it’s a very common condition that occurs in men, women and children after a significant loss or a traumatic experience. It’s the body’s way of coping with the trauma.


If you have experienced ‘Grief Fog’, what did you feel?

- like you were going crazy
- couldn’t think clearly
- didn’t remember things that happened or that you said
- you couldn’t find things that you were sure you knew where they were

 

Did you experience a feeling that people reacted to you in a strange or odd way?


- family thought you were developing dementia when you forgot where you were or what you were doing
- people laugh when you forgot where you put your mug only to find it the fridge or somewhere just as strange

 

This fog has 3 primary components according to family and grief therapist Jacob Brown.
 

1. Emotional - We are trying to focus on the event and what happened. We are trying to process our pain. Normal day to day tasks seem totally irrelevant to us during this time. Does this sound familiar to you?
 

2. Neurological - a significant loss is like a trauma to the brain. The part of the brain thought to be the centre of emotions and memory is the hippocampus. Brown cites studies that show a decrease in hippocampal activity following a trauma resulting in decreased memory function. This causes us to forget where we put things, maybe lose our way and have such difficulty in making decisions. Can you add to this?

 

3. Physical - Fatigue! The body’s response to trauma is to divert energy to healing the trauma; that includes physical, emotional or neurological energy,” says Brown. “As a

result, grievers often feel a deep sense of fatigue and lethargy.” Can you add any other physical responses to your grief?


This ‘Grief Fog’ can last a long time. There are ways to help yourself to move forward
through it. It’s not easy for everyone to do this so let’s talk about a few resolutions you
might be able to use to help you this New Year.


Books:

Books are a good way to help you to understand what is happening and reading about how others managed can be helpful. James Reid Funeral Home has a lending
library with a wide variety of topics to help people when they are ready. Often people will tell me that they can’t concentrate or focus. If this is what you are experiencing then you might want to wait a bit before trying to delve into a book or perhaps try some audio books.


• Have you read a good one that you can share about?
• Have you tried audio books? What was that like for you?


Support Groups:

Groups where people struggling with similar experiences are often a great help others. Kingston offers many groups - some more specific than others. You are here tonight and for that, I applaud you. Coming to this kind of event is particularly difficult and it takes a lot of motivation and courage to come through our doors.


Bereaved Families of Ontario also offers groups for specific losses. There are groups for
people who have lost a child, a spouse, a family member or a friend. There is a mourning coffee drop in group and a group for those who have experienced a loved one who completed suicide. All of these groups offer the freedom to chat with others who have experienced a significant death. The opportunity to just listen to how others coped or are coping is so helpful. We help one another by sharing.


• Have you tried another group?
• What has your experience been like?


Exercise:

The body and the brain are connected. This is why mindfulness, spirituality and movement are helpful ways to resolve our ‘grief fog’. James Reid Funeral Home offers ‘Walking Through Grief’ in the spring and the fall months. Many who partake in these activities form lasting friendships.

 

Whether you walk, run, sing, pray or meditate remember to be present in the moment. Enjoy the nature, the silence, the gentle sounds. Get caught up in the present for a bit and leave the past for a while. It will be there if you want to go back.


Conclusion:

Therese Rando, a noted grief therapist and author, describes grieving as a learning process. Each minute with a loved one created patterns of how to operate and what to expect. Each new challenge, like doing the taxes, fixing things, and going into a new year, becomes a fresh occasion to accept the absence of your loved one and find new ways to cope, even if new challenges bring fresh pain.


In closing and as you poke holes in the grief fog, I’d like to leave you with the words of Martin Luther King:


"You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."

Bibliography

 

Jacob Brown, a marriage and family therapist in Corte Madera, California, who specializes in grief and issues surrounding older adults - retrieved from: https:// www.nextavenue.org/fog-of-grief Facing the New Year when You are Bereaved - retrieved from: https://www.vitas.com


Quote from Martin Luther King - retrieved from: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/
holidays/g4069/new-years-quotes/?slide=20


Quote from Therese Rando - retrieved from: https://www.vitas.com/family-andcaregiver-
support/grief-and-bereavement/holidays-and-grief/facing-the-new-year-whenyou-
are-bereaved/

 

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