Grief Brain

An unexpected part of grief is the experience of “grief brain.” Because of the intensity of emotion and mental load that grief requires, cognitive function can decline temporarily. Grieving people may forget things often, lose words when speaking, repeat themselves unknowingly, blank on someone’s name, or feel unable to plan.

This phenomenon is so common, but so alarming to people. They say to me, “I think I’m losing my mind!” If you experience “grief brain,” take heart. It is temporary, and not indicative of a progressive cognitive decline.

It may help to put a few systems into place so you can stay on top of the important things. A few simple recommendations:

-Write lists

-Set alarms and calendar alerts

-Take notes

                For the time being, don’t rely on your brain to remember everything. Use these external supports consistently. Clients have also shared some other interventions, such as giving spare keys to a neighbor, setting their phone’s “find me” feature, using a voice recorder to save information, and  using post-its liberally throughout their home or office.

                Please know that this “grief brain” is a normal experience and will improve with time. If you have concerns about your cognitive function that seem beyond the scope of “grief brain” or that aren’t improving with time, so see your doctor to be evaluated. Most people will find, however, that this experience gets better over the course of a few months. Best wishes.

(For more on the actual neurological processes behind “grief brain” THIS ARTICLE provides a good overview)

Published by Angela Dora Dobrzynski

My name is Angela Dora Dobrzynski. I'm a professional counselor, and am passionate for all things personal development and human behavior. I specialize in grief and life transitions, with a special interest in health and stress psychology, emotional resilience and utilizing strengths as the basis of personal development. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Pennsylvania. I have a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Rosemont College and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Stockton University. Additionally, I hold a certificate in Holistic Health Coaching from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and was granted a certificate in NonProfit Leadership From Arcadia University’s School of Continuing Education as well as a certificate in Nonprofit Executive Leadership from Bryn Mawr School of Social Work. My professional experience includes work in the hospice of a major local healthcare system, Women's Resource Center, The Renfrew Center, Manor College and Children’s Crisis Treatment Center. I am a member of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. In my personal life I spend time kayaking, writing, gardening and connecting with my loved ones.

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