Of two things we can be certain: death and taxes. Yet, we never seem prepared for the death of a loved one.
Having dealt with grief and mourning in my own life, I have a certain empathy for those who are experiencing this painful aspect of life. Since I’ve experienced many different types of grieving which have resulted in my expressing or not expressing my grief, I find that socially and culturally grieving is not understood very well.
This has led me to do research on the topic. Because I speak day-to-day with many people in various stages of mourning and hear their pain in their voice, I’d love to share some of the information I’ve found.
It seems in our culture that grieving is only acceptable if you’re mourning the death of a very close loved one. Yet, scientifically it has been proven that we as humans grieve over many aspects of life such as losing our health, losing a friend or beloved pet. Losing a job and divorce is cited as huge factors for entering depression which is the result of the grieving process.
If we could be allowed to look at what we’re experiencing as what it truly is – mourning the loss of something or someone we truly loved, then perhaps we could get on with the process.
As if grief isn’t bad enough, did you know there is such a thing as complicated grief? I didn’t either until I began to study the topic. It seems that when I need things to be the simplest it is when I am mourning, but that isn’t necessarily the case.
Complicated grief, according to medical literature, is when the grief isn’t simply emotional. When we experience loss, some of us more sensitive creatures tend to experience it on every level, even the physical. Loss felt deeply for long periods of time will wreck your immune system, cause your adrenals to be overworked and your hormone regulation to disrupted. Essentially, you become very weak, tired and quite possibly sick.
Interestingly, grief impacts memory deeply. In recent years, a study was published that followed those who had experienced grief from the loss of a loved one. It showed that short-term memory was affected for all the study participants. For those that grieved longer, complicated grief became an issue and memory was impacted even more.
For those suffering complicated grief, they could remember almost anything as long the memory involved the deceased loved one. Most other memories were severely impacted if the memory did not include their loved one.
Other studies have shown that in some instances, people who are grieving suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is known to have memory impact as well. With complicated grief there’s the problem of multiple issues affecting the brain at the same time. Depression, PTSD, and anxiety all contribute to major memory issues sometimes resulting in episodes of complete forgetfulness of the most basic of tasks.
Here’s what you should know. While grieving and mourning are different for every person and can vary drastically in length for each person, the memory issues normally go back to normal once the opportunity to completely grieve has occurred. This could be years of memory issues in varying intensity but only if the person is experiencing severe complicated grief for a very long time will it cause changes in the brain that could cause lasting memory issues.
When I speak with grievers, the first thing I tell them is they are perfectly OK. They need to be reassured that what they are going through is normal. I’m told every time that this helps them immediately and tremendously. My experiences and research tell me that even with the scariest episodes of memory loss (can’t remember how to start a car) it is merely a stark wake up call for you to listen to what your body needs. It needs support from you to go through the process of letting go.
Please know if you’re experiencing grief there are resources out there for you. If you’d like to know how MindBoost can help you during this difficult time, check out our products page or call us toll-free at 1-888-503-2911.
We’re here to help.