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:
-Set alarms and calendar alerts
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)