Grief and Concentration: 8 Tips for Coping with an Inability to Focus

Understanding Grief / Understanding Grief : Litsa Williams

You’re sitting at your desk at work and suddenly realize you have been staring at the wall—lost in thought or memories of pain—for the last hour and now you're late for a meeting. You’re driving home and drive right through a stop sign that you dutifully stop at every day. You put dinner in the oven and, almost two hours later, realize you forgot to pull it out only when you smell something burning. You come home one day to find a notice on your door: You forgot to pay your rent for the last two months. You had the money, you just forgot to pay! You get up and walk into another room to do something or get something and, by the time you get there, you have no idea what it was. And on and on and on... Any of these sound familiar?

I just stare at my desk... but it looks like I'm working

One common question we get here at WYG is how to manage the complete inability to focus that can come with grief. After a death, constant and overwhelming distraction is one of the most common pieces of “evidence” people cite when explaining that they think they are going totally crazy! So, before we go any further, let’s clear one thing up:

Grief and concentration don't mix well.

That is not a sign that you are losing it, I promise. Struggling to concentrate is very normal soon after a loss. It is simply a sign that your brain is completely consumed by something painful, overwhelming, and life-changing.

That said, if the inability to focus keeps up for an extended period of time or is interfering with your life in an unmanageable way (e.g., you're at risk of losing your job, you can't care for your children, etc.), you should seek professional help from a therapist right away. Otherwise, some basic tips and tools will probably be enough to help you over the hurdle.

Though we certainly don't believe time heals all wounds, we do know that time helps a lot with this grief and concentration thing. It takes time for your brain to adjust to a new reality, to the completely different world that exists after your loss. There are conflicting emotions to process, fears and anxieties to cope with, secondary losses to navigate, and countless other things your brain is trying to manage... but that does get easier with time. In the meantime, we have some tips and suggestions for coping with grief and concentration. We hope you’ll add your own to the comments to keep this conversation going!

1. Stop Beating Yourself Up!

Seriously. We know it's hard when you have always been a focused, fabulous, functional person. But grief is the worst and it really messes with your brain. You aren’t a failure for being distracted. You’re a normal, wonderful, griever who is just doing your best to cope. So, in those moments when you have lost all focus, try to give yourself some permission and space to know it’s okay. You are still a fabulous person... And it might just take some time and a little work to get that focus back.

Everything's my fault

2. Journal

Journaling may sound like a weird tip for managing grief and concentration, but sometimes the problem is that you have so many thoughts swimming in your head. You just can’t possibly keep them all in there and hope to focus.  Getting some of those thoughts out in a journal can (at least temporarily) clear some space to let you focus. A regular journaling practice is great, but even just writing out some of the things consuming you when you are feeling unfocused can provide a temporary reprieve. If you are looking to start or beef up your grief journaling practice, we have a self-guided grief journaling e-course you can check out.

3. Visualization and Meditation

Learning to meditate has countless physical and psychological benefits, one of which is getting more control over your thoughts and your relationship with your thoughts. When you are feeling constantly unfocused and distracted, it is a tool that can help you move the needle. Teaching you how to meditate is beyond the scope of this post, but you can find some more information and resources here.

Visualization is a technique that can also be helpful in setting your consuming thoughts aside for a while. Now, that might sound like avoidance... and you know we don’t usually advocate avoidance! But in some cases, you need to compartmentalize in order to take care of the practicalities of life (Read about Avoidance Coping vs. Grief Relief here). When consuming thoughts are distracting you, take a minute to notice what you’re being consumed by and visualize yourself putting the thoughts in a box or a room. You can shut the lid or the door, telling yourself you will come back to attend to those thoughts later, in a time and space you allow. If you journal, you may do the same when you close the journal, deliberately keeping your thoughts contained to the pages until you can revisit them in a space that doesn’t have such a negative impact.


4. Write Everything Down

This is a basic concentration tip, but it's an especially important one when you’re grieving. If, before the loss, you were able to keep your life organized in your head, it can be hard to accept that that isn't possible anymore. Your head is now consumed with a zillion other thoughts and anxieties, so it can be a big help to write things down to help you keep track of even the basic things. You may not have to create endless to-do lists forever, but in the short term, it can help!

5. Sleep and Eat

One of the challenges in grief is that symptoms stack up on each other and can impact one another. Early in grief, your sleep and appetite can get out of wack (e.g., insomnia can become an unwelcome guest, you may lose all interest in eating, etc.). When it comes to focus and concentration, lack of sleep and food are an issue even without grief. Then layer grief on top of that, and you might have a mental meltdown. 

If you are looking for tips, check out our post on getting a good night’s sleep while grieving. Make sure you are meeting your basic caloric and vitamin/mineral needs, even if you aren’t excited about eating. Yes, this can mean forcing yourself to eat and make healthy food choices. You can read more about healthy eating while grieving here.

nighttime rumination and insomnia

6. Just Do It

Sometimes, focus and concentration are the issues when a task is already underway... but they can also come into play when deciding whether and when to do something. Sometimes we say to ourselves, “Oh, I’m too distracted or unfocused to do anything now, I’ll start later or tomorrow.” By the time you get to it, you are so close to the deadline that you're feeling even more overwhelmed and stressed—which then can make it even harder to focus. It's a vicious cycle!

So what do we recommend you do? Just start, even if there is some distraction involved. Those messages telling you not to try come from a little thing we like to call grief-brain. If you just ignore it, sometimes you'll surprise yourself!

7. Take Breaks and Use Alarms

There are a ton of productivity techniques and apps with all sorts of different philosophies and systems. We don’t endorse a particular one for helping with time and focus, but many share one thing in common: that is, they encourage setting time to work and time for breaks. 

For example, some use alarms to help you balance staying on task with resting. Scheduling time this way helps some grievers cope with the emotions and distractions by creating space for them. These alarms can also help you back on track if you've gotten too distracted. We encourage you to research which method might be the best fit for you, but the pomodoro technique is a well-known option that can give you the idea of how this works.

take breaks


8. Solicit Support

If you realize your inability to concentrate is interfering with your day-to-day life, get some help. This may be help from friends, family, and co-workers. It also could be professional help from a therapist. Ideally, it's a combination of both. 

If you realize your work is being significantly impacted, talk to your supervisor and/or human resources. You can read more about going back to work after a death here.

 If you're a student and you see your schoolwork is suffering, talk with your teachers/professors and school counselors right away to look for support and solutions. You can read more about going back to school after a death here.

If you want some ideas on how to find help within your support system, check out this post.

Keep the conversation going. If you have struggled with grief, concentration, and lack of focus, leave a comment to let others know how you've been coping!  And, as always, subscribe to get our weekly grief support posts right to your inbox.

We wrote a book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief
for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
real-life book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.

You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books:

Let’s be grief friends.

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60 Comments on "Grief and Concentration: 8 Tips for Coping with an Inability to Focus"

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  7. Naomi Lichtner  June 30, 2022 at 1:05 pm Reply

    I read this article after a fresh loss….I lost my adorable teddy bear dog Archie after 12 years….petting him was like an ice pack to my overwhelmed brain….

    The odd sense of horror and sadness to read my previous comment, knowing I wrote that while Archie was lounging in perfect health in the other room….or would wander in here to offer me up a chance to be kind to myself and take a little breather with some head scratches, right on time….

    And now?!?!

    I feel even more lost….god, I needed you Archie <3

    • Sydney  July 11, 2022 at 2:29 pm Reply

      Hello, I am so, so sorry for your heartbreak. My heart feels as if it has been taken from me. Our baby was a year & a half, he passed away due to drowning when he gained access to the pool without us home. It hurts every single day. I cannot eat, I cannot sleep. We looked for him for a week, because signs pointed to him to being stolen from our yard. Oliver is my baby, my everything, my heart. I feel so, so broken. I cannot concentrate, I cannot function. I sleep with his favorite toy. I feel your grief, I grieve with you. I wish I could believe in heaven to know he is happy & safe. I want to believe so badly. I miss him so, so much. I send my love to you & together I hope all will settle & we find comfort knowing that they were the happiness of this world.

  8. Naomi Paula Lichtner  September 7, 2021 at 6:50 pm Reply

    I struggle with clinical depression. Then in 2018, I unexpectedly lost a friend from clinical depression. He was only 31, or “almost 32” (2 weeks before his bday) as I say to try desperately to make myself feel any better. Since then I have been let go from multiple jobs, and struggle to find any motivation or momentum in the job search currently. I somehow just can’t manage anything….and while I recently tried counseling, no one around me accepts the fact that no, I cannot seem to move forward as impressively as needed because my heart hurts so much. I tell myself painfully every day “ok today is the day I will start the new me.” Then 2 hours later repeat that after no progress. Then, like as I am typing this, it’s almost 5 pm and somehow the day goes away. I have meetings with people that make me incredibly nervous..yet not nervous enough to overcome my paralysis and actually do work to show them. Feels exhausting and hopeless…

  9. Catherine Antonakos  April 6, 2021 at 7:12 pm Reply

    I lost my husband after 40 years of marriage on January 5 2020. My husband and I traveled from Florida to New York for Christmas 2019 to visit with our daughter who had been battling cancer for a year. We wanted to be together as a family. We were not sure of my daughter’s prognosis except to know that she was terminal. The day after Christmas my husband unexpectedly hemorrhaged. He died 11 days later while under hospice care in NY. That was very traumatic for all of us, especially in light of why we went to New York to begin with.

    Now, back to my daughter, Doreen. She was an RN, she was a compassionate soul. She was a very thoughtful daughter, she was a warm and wonderful Mother who left behind four young boys, the youngest being 10. She fought brave and hard for more than 2 years but lost her battle on February 19th 2021.

    It is beyond belief and overwhelmingly sad that I could lose two loved immediate family members within 13 months of each other. Fortunately for me I still have a son and seven grandchildren, all of whom will be my inspiration going forward.

    I was a corporate secretary for 45 years, which required me being on the ball with all bases covered at all times. I retired in 2011 and was skating along in life until 2018, when my daughter was diagnosed. Now my biggest problem is lack of focus and concentration. It is not to the point of debilitation although sometimes I wonder how it couldn’t be. Other than that I am managing my grief brain as best I can.

    Thank you for the support that I find in groups such as this. I hope and pray I can get back to normal before too long.

  10. Kiendra Johnston  November 9, 2020 at 11:24 am Reply

    I lost my mom 9 yrs ago. I still haven’t got over her death. My Family & Friends would like me to go to therapy or counselling, but I’m not so sure. What do you think? Should I go?

  11. Thomas Clarence  June 17, 2020 at 2:34 pm Reply

    I love how you mentioned that a journal can allow you to clear some space in your head to allow you to focus. In addition to that, I would think that it would be a good idea to find a counselor so that you can speak your mind when trying to overcome grief. Counselors can help provide you with tools that can help you to change your thinking patterns.

  12. Kate Johnstone  June 13, 2020 at 10:03 pm Reply

    My husband of 23 years passed away May 18, 2020, just one month before his 75th birthday. He was the love of my life and we spent many happy and some not so happy years together. That’s what happens. But we both had great senses of humor and we laughed a lot through the rough times. His name is Brian. He was Scottish and grew up in the Scottish Borders. He was a genius. He was an architect and a gifted artist and musician. He played Flamenco guitar and just about any tune you could ask him to play. He wasn’t handsome by any stretch of the imagine, but his spirit was/is absolutely golden. We bought a 2.5 acre property that had a house and a large shop. He was a master potter, along with all of his other achievements. So we made the shop into a pottery studio, which was very successful until in1916 he fell trying to close the heavy hanging doors. He broke his hip and after that it was too painful for him to sit at the pottery wheel. We sold all of our equipment. After that, we discovered he had dementia(I didn’t realize it at the time). He was in our kitchen making chips (french fries). He left the pot of oil on the stove and forgot about it and we lost our house and all our possessions. Got out with just the clothes on our backs. His health went downhill after that. We spent 3 years in rental homes while our house was being rebuilt on the original property. We moved in last Labor Day, 2019. After that his health continued to decline and I took care of him all that time. It was my honor to care for him in the months of his declining health. However it was really stressful. I had lost the man I married. He passed away May 18th 2020. So now I am grieving his loss. I function pretty well, but I have moments in my grieving process where my short term memory has been affected. I will be 71 next month. Now after a really difficult day today, I’ve been worried that I’m losing my short term memory. But after reading all of your experiences with this stage of grief, I realize that I need to take time and care for myself and our Kitty. So going forward, I’m trying to take care of myself. I am in touch with a Hospice grief counselor and hope this will help me process the mental and emotional roller coaster I’ve been on since his passing. I realize it’s going to be a long process . Today took me by surprise. Thank you all for your experiences and please know I am thinking about all of you and hope that your journey will provide healing and wisdom.

    • Linda  March 23, 2021 at 2:18 pm Reply

      Hi Kate,
      Your story is so similar to mine. I lost my brilliant husband on May 30, 2020, at the age of 79. We had been married almost 44 years. He could do anything mechanical. We lived in an “off the grid” home in the mountains of New Mexico for 5 years. He was in his glory, learning about solar and water catchment and everything related to solar. He even built an elevator in our home.
      We had good times and bad times.
      He had Parkinson’s, probably longer than we had any idea. The last couple years were very hard. Thank God, we moved in with our daughter and twin grandsons. They were all a big help.
      Anyway, i still have trouble staying focused and have some short term memory loss also, which really scares me.
      It helps to read about the experiences of others, so I can realize that I’m not crazy. Thank you for sharing. I hope and pray that you find peace.

  13. Barbara Mason  May 12, 2020 at 6:31 pm Reply

    This article helped explain the “why” I am feeling overwhelmed and can’t seem to get anything done. I lost my 42-year-old daughter in February (two days before her 43rd birthday). My two grandaughters (18 and 16) rely on me as their “link” to their mom and I do the absolute best I can.

    I have ALWAYS been a well-organized, productive person, both in private and professional life. At the moment I write this, my house is a mess, I have overdue assignments for work and all I want to do is get on the couch and watch Judge Judy.

    Before the shelter-in-place here in CA early in March, I had started grief counseling. However, after the shut-down, I did not feel comfortable continuing my therapy by Zoom or telephone. Right now, I just feel a mess…

    • Heather  January 8, 2021 at 8:18 pm Reply

      I lost my mother… my best friend 3 years ago. About a year ago I was finally starting to feel like “me” or at least the “new” me; when my world got flipped upside down again. My dad who remarried just 14 months after mom died became a totally different person. Very mean and belittling in his words and actions. Now he has sold their home and flat out told my brother and I that we no longer matter to him and all that matters to him is doing what he wants and what makes him happy. This home was where my brother was living as well and now he is on the street and has gone 2 hours from here in Hope’s of finding some place to live. I feel so alone…abandoned…like there is nothing left to fight for. I work from home due to COVID so I feel very boxed in. I sit here after work each night now and just cry. I try and sleep when I can and then get up and do it all again the next day. When you have no one left around you…how do you find purpose again?

  14. Yolanda  April 3, 2020 at 1:01 pm Reply

    This article was right on time. My 25-year old daughter passed 3 weeks ago and I’ve been struggling to focus ever since. I’ve experienced every phase of grief…denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance (in no particular order) and I find myself asking God why? I started to think something was wrong with me but after reading this article, I realize “grief brain” is part of the process. It’s good to know distractions are expected and that I’m not alone. Thank you all for sharing your stories, you’ve helped me in my healing process. Praying for you all that God gives you the peace you need to be the person He has called/purposed you to be!

  15. Sumaiyah Hudah  February 3, 2020 at 8:50 am Reply

    My dad died just over 2 weeks ago and I nearly crashed my car today when feeling emotional. That’s why I’m on this page.

  16. Dee Dee Smith/Pennington  November 17, 2019 at 11:04 am Reply

    Hello to fellow grievers? I lost my husband of 33 years, 5 years ago….which threw me to the ground. I own a child care and went back to work 3 weeks later. The children gave/give so much love, that it truly helped my broken heart. At least somewhat, when I was working. But, when I left work, the tears would start as soon as I was out of site of my school. I was still taking care of my Dad, who lived with me…which was hard, but I kept moving forward. He passed a year later, after my husband. And now my youngest Son passed away March 17, 2019. This loss is like no other to me!! I have two sons, and Richie who passed was my baby, even though he was only 31. He died in his sleep. And my oldest son Jay, found him unresponsive. He called me, called 911, started CPR, and I ran to the hospital, but they were not there. I tried to call my son Jay..but N/A (the police would not let him in house) he warned him, that I was going to be sooo upset) I didnt know how I got to the house from the hospital so fast. When I arrived, I saw my son Jay on the porch with 3 police officers. I ran to them. But could see my oldest son Jay, was in shock and couldn’t speak. I was freaked out and no way expected what happen next, was for real. The oldest police officer, asked me, You don’t know! I said no, why? He said your son is dead!!!?! I said what hospital?? He said he is inside. I immediately went for the door which was closed, and he said that I could not go in.!! Well, I went into full rage!! I pushed the police officers out of my way. And entered my home! There laid my Richie on the cold floor in his underwear only, with his arm stretched out. NO ONE could hold me back !’ I fell to the floor and held his cold body in my arms, crying hysterically and moaning and yelling to the police to leave him alone!! I was like a bear protecting her cub!! The oldest cop tried to remove me from my son but could not!! I said horrible things to him and could have cared less he was a police officer. It could of been God…I could of cared less. They would not let me even cover him! After what seemed like a long time, the corners people arrived to pick up his body. They would not let me by him when they placed him in a body bag. I was uncontrollably crying with Jay. They took him out the back way. He was on a gurney in a black body bag (that I have only seen in movies) they were takin him to their carrier. I stopped them and unzipped the bag to reveal his beautiful handsome face. I kissed him and touched his soft skin one last time and encouraged his brother to do the same. Not only did I loss my son, my baby boy; but to be put thru this drama is inspectable!!! I did call the elderly police officers supervised right then…and was assured it was not a normal protocol. To this day, I suffer from PTS and so does my son. My loss is huge and I will NEVER get over it!!
    I went back to work after 3 weeks, and my children at my pre-school do help with my broken heart. ?

  17. Kate  November 3, 2019 at 7:16 am Reply

    I lost my partner of 26 years in February. I have been through so much of what you all write. I went through the frantic cleaning phase, the can’t read or watch tv phase, the constant crying phase and now I am going through the “I should be better, but I’m not phase.” It has helped me so much to see that all of you have gone through the same things. I’m not losing my mind. I am having such a hard time finding any purpose to life. Every time I try to feel joyful, the memories start and I end up crying. Will this ever end.

  18. Maureen  October 23, 2019 at 5:46 am Reply

    My husband had a fall on April 25 2019. He broke his pelvis and needed surgery but he developed complications right away and he didn’t receive the surgery for over a week. Once the surgery was done he developed a serious infection and would be on antibiotic therapy for months. He rallied through all the challenges, like he always did and on June 6 (a Thursday) we were told that they were finally sending home on Monday. Finally! At 3:30 am the hospital called me and out of a sound sleep I was told his nurse had found him unresponsive. They did everything they could, she said. How? Why? No!!!! We would have been married 35 years on August 4th. He was 64. I have spent hours upon hours staring at walls. Walking but not knowing how. Watching tv but neither seeing or hearing anything. I love to read and write but I haven’t read a book in 6 months nor written anything. I am simply devastated. I do have moments where I have risen to the surface without realizing it. Things are lighter, brighter but as soon as I become away of it, I am swept under once more. Slow and steady I am telling myself. I love him. I always will. He was my best friend and will always be the most precious and important person I have ever known

  19. Linda Knight  September 18, 2019 at 12:51 pm Reply

    It has been seven months now since my best girlfriend in the whole world died . I had known and been friends with her for 51 years and we talked to each other regularly and visited with each other. She had plans to sell her house and move and it never happened. She was found dead in her home. She died alone. She was never married. She got the flu and it caused a heart condition she never knew she had…hardening of the arteries….to kill her. She was only 59. Had JUST retired. Had it all before her and she never got to enjoy her golden years. I was just devastated to find out she died coz she was not on any meds and seemed to be fine. Anyhow, I still all this time later cannot move forward with my life. I AM STUCK in the deepest pits of despair. The grief is overwhelming. I am so lost without her now. I cannot think. Days go by and some days I cannot even remember …they are all a fog. I try to keep busy. I try. Every little thing reminds me of Karen. I mean everything. I can be fine one minute and in tears the next. The tears never seem to end. Every day I cry. Every day I am upset and mad or just freaking out that she died suddenly like she did. Last conversation with me she said that I was the only person in her life she said that she had known for so long…her whole life she said. And she was the same for me…my whole life I had known her. We just clicked. We never fought. Never disagreed. We just got on so well. I feel crazy and insane most times…talking to myself. Cursing God for taking her away as He did. I have questioned my faith even. I have had ups and downs but this is the worst I have ever felt over someone passing away. It was as if half of my body left with her…my heart aches and I miss her so badly. I wonder if these feeling will ever go away? I have lost relatives but never felt like this. I was sad do not get me wrong but this…Karens death reached into my core, my soul, my heart…and her death ripped my very being out of me. Took my breath away from me. Almost killed me to know Karen had died. I will forever carry her memories in my heart but I still have a very hard time just wrapping my head around the fact that she is gone. I do not think I will ever ever ever get over this loss. I can say that I think I am starting to finally see some kinda light again instead of so much darkness…but with time I have found that the pain does not get better. It hurts more. We just end up having to accept what is… like it or not. We cannot change a thing. It is just so hard to move forward…so very hard.

  20. Tanya  September 5, 2019 at 2:53 pm Reply

    My supervisor didn’t wake up to go to work today. He died in his sleep and his wife found him when she woke up. This article is right on as I have disbelief, anger, distracted thoughts of my parents deaths, my cat’s death a year ago and am trying to keep busy now. Can I go home now? I just want to hug my other cat. Or hide under my desk…

  21. Isaak  July 31, 2019 at 7:27 am Reply

    Thank you for this article. Its been just over 2 months since my mum passed away from cancer. She had it for 3 years, 8 months. Many people tell me I’m lucky I had so much time with her, but honestly, it doesn’t feel that way. It happened right before my exams so now I am trying to focus but can’t. 19 going into second year in October and doubting my plans. I don’t even know what to do anymore. A lot of new responsibilities has made it almost impossible to relax. I guess life has a funny way of saying ‘fuck you’

  22. Carline Cadet  March 15, 2019 at 12:52 am Reply

    This is something all too familiar for me. I had this issue for 2 years or maybe more after my dad passed away 3 years ago this month. 2015 was my last year in nursing school and I finally graduated with my bachelor’s degree in nursing. Anyone who knows what it’s like to be in nursing school know your focus has to be serious; no distractions can get in the way. 3 months after graduation while I was in the prime of my studying for boards, my dad fell sickly and declined terribly. 2 months later, he was gone. It rocked my world and shattered my faith all entirely. I was so unfocused and overwhelmed as I now assumed his role as the leader in the home (I’m the oldest child with my parents). On top of the responsibilities being shifted to me, which was placed on me, I now have to navigate through grief and mourning the loss of my dad, not having a job, sorting through my feelings and the icing on the cake: study for an exam that requires major focus. While I had tutors helping me, I zoned out all the time and couldn’t retain anything. Every test question and scenario took me back to the events when my dad was in the hospital. I couldn’t remember anything anyone ever said to me or any important dates. It was just a horrible and traumatic experience to go through. I almost lost it and lost myself. I just started to refocus myself this year. It’s really hard.

  23. Tasha  March 4, 2019 at 6:31 pm Reply

    I lost my best friend 5 months ago, he suffered from Epliepsy and called me as he died, I thought he had just fallen but I got to him too late. I tried my best to save him by completing CPR. The guilt consumes me, and some days I feel numb others I feel overwhelmed.
    I forget things, I have to write literally everything down. I feel like I don’t and shouldn’t love or care for myself as I usually would.
    I cannot stop cleaning my house and everything has to be cleaned before I sitdown to relax or sleep. Sleep is a myth most nights and Im awake after an hour. I feel stuck 🙁

  24. Kenya Williams  February 26, 2019 at 8:19 am Reply

    I just feel extra lost now I lost my mom in 2010 she was and died in my arms but that was expected far as my mom now I just lost my son due to a heart attack February 3,2019 and I literally can’t function he was only 22 this was unexpected to be at work and get that kinda call is truly devastating I don’t know if I’m coming or going

  25. RJo  February 12, 2019 at 1:12 am Reply

    I can relate to this! I’m a freelance writer and accepted an assignment shortly after the loss of a close friend, thinking it would be a good distraction. I did the interviews but now it feels like I’ve never written an article in my life! They aren’t very long, but wow, where is my brain! And I agree, I don’t want to mention my grief to my supervisor. My late friend would encourage me, and I really, really miss that.

  26. Tony  February 8, 2019 at 8:32 am Reply

    My Mom passed away July 8,2018 I watch her take her last breath it feels like I’ve been stabbed in my heart ❤️ I’m crying ? as I type this today makes 7 months since she fallen asleep in death I was so angry ? with God she had cancer all of the suffering and watching her stop breathing it really broke my heart and it seems like yesterday all this has happened I miss her like crazy she was my world ? and my best friend

  27. Wayne M  January 9, 2019 at 1:53 am Reply

    Great article with some very handy insights and tips (and i liked the GIFs especially the Patrick one – my Ewan loved Spongebob Sqaurepants and it always makes me smile)
    I lost my 16 year old son, Ewan last June and I often have this problem at work.
    I often find getting up and going for a walk to the tea room or to the window nearby helps.
    Mostly I only need 10-15 seconds and then I find i’m OK for a few hours or so.
    I’ll now be using some of these other tips too.

  28. Cathy  January 4, 2019 at 12:55 pm Reply

    Thank you! I lost my husband 4 years ago and have often thought I was losing my mind! It is better now but I still have bad days. ?

  29. k Verstegen  December 20, 2018 at 8:14 pm Reply

    Great tips, but it took me a long time to read, due to all the flashing pics along the way. You know focus is hard, so get rid of the distractions, please. Thanks.

  30. Jo Ann  November 29, 2018 at 7:49 am Reply

    I have just been sitting doing and thinking nothing at all, just feeling overwhelmed , and googled that, and found I’m not alone and that my foggy thinking is ok. I lost my husband 8 months ago. He was Spanish and we live in Spain. I wanted desperately to go to the US, be with my kids, see a counselor but bureaucracy here is so complicated and his children are making my life so difficult. I obsess about future problems and doubt every decision. I like the ideas here and will try to move my life forward. I go back Dec 15 and tho I’ll have to return to take care of the problems, it’s a start. Thanks everone, for sharing

  31. Kendra  November 27, 2018 at 4:15 pm Reply

    I lost my father on March 09 almost three years ago. The first year I was unaffected and did everything but mourn him and now it’s my senior year and I’ve only just begun the grieving period. I can’t begin to describe how helpful this article is to me. I’ve sat down with a pencil in my hand to only realize I spent three hours merely staring blankly at my homework.

  32. Leslie  November 20, 2018 at 1:32 pm Reply

    Reading these I want to wrap my arms around you all and comfort you in your grief. I am reassured when I read about the trouble focusing and getting back to usual living.
    My mom died about 6 weeks ago and I was her primary caregiver and a nurse by profession. I knew it was coming but it still hurts. Having trouble getting going for thanksgiving as we are hosting family.
    I have much to be thankful for but Thanksgiving was her holiday that we spent together.
    I know I will get through this and it will get better. It helps to remind myself I’m normal.

  33. Pat  October 22, 2018 at 3:18 pm Reply

    I lost my husband 4 months ago on the first day of summer, the longest day of the year. He had cancer for 22 months. I still today cannot believe that he’s not around and I won’t see him again. We had so many plans for retirement after I would stop working. Now I have no plans, I’m the odd number going out with friends, I have no one to talk to at night to talk about my day. My work is suffering because I cannot concentrate. I just relive those last few weeks with him. Probably everyone on this site feels the same way. I feel like I need to go to a therapist but can’t bring myself to make the call.

  34. Kerry-anne Coughlin  October 20, 2018 at 3:03 am Reply

    I lost my partner and soul mate 3 weeks ago,I found him on the bed,he’d had a heart attack. We have a 4 and a half year old son who needs me,thank goodness I have something to keep me going,but it is so hard! I still can’t get my head around the fact that I’ll never see him again. The pain is crippling. I’m going to try writing things down. It feels like this isn’t really happening to me, like I’m watching someone else’s life.

  35. Tammy M Carrier  October 16, 2018 at 7:30 pm Reply

    Hello, I am new here and found the information interesting and helpful. Even after 2 1/2 months, I am still crying after losing my lady friend that I have known and that I have worked for, for 13 years. Although she had many health problems, her time was coming to an end. I guess I just feel like I never wanted that end to come and it eventually did July 28th. My heart is broken. This is all I can say. I feel like my life has been turned upside down. I have just started counseling therapy and only had one session so far.

  36. EricB.  September 24, 2018 at 10:05 pm Reply

    I’m trying desperately to cope with the sudden death of my life partner, the love of my last life to accidental overdose of pills and alcohol a month ago. This article has reassured me that I am not alone in my struggle. I can only hope and pray for answers and absolution. Great article..Much love.

  37. Nancy  August 20, 2018 at 9:50 pm Reply

    I lost my husband three weeks ago. He woke up every morning singing. He had hundreds of friends and always made friends with everyone he met. His faith was strong, people always asked his advice, he wouldn’t readily give it, but if he did he expected you to follow through. He was an incredible man and I only hope I can continue his legacy and see him again someday. Leaning on friends and family is crucial for me. Working is essential. I firmly believe you will make it through and make your loved ones proud. Read the famous Tecumsah poem; we should all live like the poem says, like my husband lived.

  38. Mary  July 23, 2018 at 8:09 pm Reply

    My father very unexpectedly died last year. Immediately after receiving the news,my hands started to tremble and shake out of control.
    That was just one problem.
    And that lasted for a good week or so,possibly even longer. I was having great difficulty texting my friends back home,since it was close to impossible to type anything. That problem has since stopped, although every now and then it still happens.
    Another problem which is still a problem is the lack of concentration and focus, and forgetfulness.
    I just seem to be muddling through these issues,at times,though,it seems to be getting better,at turtle speed,but slowly getting better. It annoys me that my terrific reading habits have all but gone,however, it is improving slowly. Patience is a requirement now,and so is getting back to a normal routine quickly as soon as it is possible to do so. I have found that writing an imaginary letter to my dad has helped. I actually write a letter to my dad,a private letter,one that will not be shared with anyone else,-it’s s just for you(unless you want to share it),-and I “talk”to my dad. I have honestly shared my feelings about the events that occurred the week that he died.I write a description of what happened,and so forth.I express my honest feelings about how I felt at the time and how I felt about what was going on. I tell my dad that I love him. This letter can be an open letter, meaning you don’t have to finish it.As a suggestion, you can stop writing, put the letter away somewhere private ,and then revisit it later. Maybe adding more if you choose to do so. I found this to be helpful,but that only an idea.Whatever, however you cope with this awful new reality, please stay loved and positive and patient. It really will get better.

  39. TW  July 9, 2018 at 12:25 pm Reply

    I just lost my 19 year old son one month ago. I saw him last on June 11, 2018. He had an unintended overdose with alcohol and xanex, while over a “friend’s” house playing video games. My son was on his way to do great things with his life but he was with the wrong crowd, judgement was impaired, and he was given a fatal combination. I miss his sweet person, his smile, his wit, his sarcasm, all of it. I am torn between despair and hope that I can someday be happy again in the face of this tragedy. I am totally preoccupied with his memories, that fatal night at his “friend’s” house, why he would do what he did, guilt, sorrow, feelings of abandonment, and a yearning to see him again. He was innocent. He made a mistake and never got the chances so many others have gotten to correct their lives and figure things out. I’m obsessed with the “why” and “what ifs”. The focus is just not there for work. I try but it gets muddled by my constant thoughts. Maybe compartmentalizing things will work and meditation. I will try. Thanks for the article. Here’s to hoping and praying for a better tomorrow.

  40. Emery Jean Chambers  May 25, 2018 at 10:27 pm Reply

    It was nice that you mentioned getting a decent amount of sleep and eating healthy food is one way to manage grief. I will be sure to add this to the list of things I will ask my brother to do since he is struck with grief since his pet died. However, since I want him back to his old self soon, I will also take him to a professional for a more active approach. Thanks.

  41. Emery Jean Chambers  May 25, 2018 at 10:27 pm Reply

    It was nice that you mentioned getting a decent amount of sleep and eating healthy food is one way to manage grief. I will be sure to add this to the list of things I will ask my brother to do since he is struck with grief since his pet died. However, since I want him back to his old self soon, I will also take him to a professional for a more active approach. Thanks.

  42. Sagess  May 4, 2018 at 4:53 pm Reply

    Ditch those annoying video clips. No one wants to even scroll by those to try
    read the article.

  43. Sagess  May 4, 2018 at 4:53 pm Reply

    Ditch those annoying video clips. No one wants to even scroll by those to try
    read the article.

  44. alley  January 26, 2018 at 2:17 pm Reply

    Thank you for this article, it has been two years and the grief is like it was yesterday, and on top of that the divorce last year. My grief brain makes it hard for anyone to understand me, I feel like I was taken advantage of and that no one will understand me, or no one will ever be enough for me. I need proof , or affirmation all the time to know that people understand.
    but I kinda feel a little better , knowing im not the only one , I find myself having TO WRITE Myself notes, I have three schedules, and a calendar to remind myself . I think this is something no one understands. And I should be more gentle on myself because death is something we will never understand why our children go , and why they get sick, but I have to remind myself that , I am not alone though I feel lonely all the time, and many friends care for me, I have to allow myself to grieve too and know its ok.

  45. alley  January 26, 2018 at 2:17 pm Reply

    Thank you for this article, it has been two years and the grief is like it was yesterday, and on top of that the divorce last year. My grief brain makes it hard for anyone to understand me, I feel like I was taken advantage of and that no one will understand me, or no one will ever be enough for me. I need proof , or affirmation all the time to know that people understand.
    but I kinda feel a little better , knowing im not the only one , I find myself having TO WRITE Myself notes, I have three schedules, and a calendar to remind myself . I think this is something no one understands. And I should be more gentle on myself because death is something we will never understand why our children go , and why they get sick, but I have to remind myself that , I am not alone though I feel lonely all the time, and many friends care for me, I have to allow myself to grieve too and know its ok.

  46. Kathleen  September 1, 2017 at 1:21 am Reply

    After reading this article I’m relieved to see I’m slightly on top of things regarding my grief brain. I no longer pretend that I remember. I’ve admitted that to family and friends. I’ve asked for patience, not sympathy for my grief brain. I use lists for everything I need to remember to do, places I need to remember to go and lists to remember to take my lists. I use timers and alarms to keep me on task for the days I want to sit and stare off into space. I have never been good at meditating but I’ve recently joined a yoga class. I’m hoping in time I’ll get back what I lost with the death of my son. Some days I am very discouraged at the loss of what I always felt was my clear, level headed thinking and getting things done. Some days I just give in and let the grief brain take over. Thank you for another good and encouraging article.

  47. Marge Saenz  August 18, 2017 at 11:30 am Reply

    Reading all of these posts have given me the push I’ve needed to put my, at this time, somewhat uncontrolled , gut wrenching grief.
    It is now 10 years since I lost my only child, my 31 year old precious daughter. I am not one who dwells on dates/ anniversaries of losses, nor do I ignore them. For some reason, this one blindsided me! Tears, sadness, isolation,totally distracted, etc. I saw my daughter for the last time Aug 11, 2007 and found her on the 13th. She left two beautiful precious boys, 5 and 11. I am raising my boys wo are my greatest blessing. We all have had counseling which included the Children’s Bereavement Center and private counseling. I am well aware that working with and handling personal grief is a life long journey. My boys and I speak openly about their mom and dad. (My son-in-law died suddenly in ’04.) I have allowed myself to feel the pain, sadness, joy, relief, anger, etc. that comes with losing a loved one. I have always been able to deal with it in a controlled way, publicly and privately. This time I can’t seem to get rid of it. Back track . . . from 2004 to 2007, I lost my husband, daughter, son-in-law and mom. I realize that all of these losses have had an impact on my brain. I have had a blessed life and, through my faith, I believe that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and doing what I am blessed to be doing. Absolutely not complaining or asking for sympathy, just wanting and needing some suggestions on coping. (I definitely am going to get professional help. ).
    Thanks for letting me unload.

  48. Debbylombard  August 17, 2017 at 10:12 am Reply

    Thank you for this and the comments. Lost our son 5 weeks ago. I want and need to get back to work! I can’t even think or make a commitment without my heart rate pounding, I shake. People tell me time, I need this to go away. I know the loss and pain will never go away.

  49. Debbylombard  August 17, 2017 at 10:08 am Reply

    Thank you for this and the comments. Lost our son 5 months ago. I want and need to get back to work! I can’t even think or make a commitment without my heart rate pounding, I shake. People tell me time, I need this to go away. I know the loss and pain will never go away.

  50. Gray  August 12, 2017 at 10:21 am Reply

    Thanks for the info. I am almost 5 years into my grief and instead of slowly returning to my organized, self motivated self, I still get easily overwhelmed and do nothing. I sit and read blogs, stare at Facebook, or play games on my phone for entirely too long. Then I beat myself up for not doing what I “should” be doing.
    I long to return to that part of my old self that was able to handle the accomplishment on which I thrive.

  51. Antoinette  August 11, 2017 at 2:01 am Reply

    I feel like I can’t move I have been asked to clean out my craft room so they can install some shelves for me. I have been working on it for a moth or more the other day my sister said she wants the room cleaned out so she can put the shelves in. To be definit I proupsly didn’t do it . It’s like my sister and daughter just want to give or throw away my things . I lost my brother then my son 19 days apart , then a 9 month old puppy and 13 yr old dog . I don’t want to lose my crafts my livelihood . It’s frustrating that they want to move on. But I am not ready it’s going on 7 months now. I go to my water arobics class come home and take care of my disable husband, that is hoping to be with his son everyday .

    • Geanette Ceballos  January 8, 2019 at 5:21 pm Reply

      I am sorry and understand how you feel.. the pain is indescribable and makes our emotions so raw… wish I could hug you… it’s a journey for me too, losing a son.. crying is still a frequent thing for me.

  52. Loretta  August 10, 2017 at 2:51 pm Reply

    Yes I agree those video clips that keep playing are very distracting.

  53. Elizabeth Hilliard  August 10, 2017 at 1:18 pm Reply

    This is a great article and timely. I find myself struggling to execute much now that I’m unemployed and at home. One small piece of feedback – for those of us struggling with concentration due to grief, the automatically replaying video giphs in this article are terribly distracting. A static photo or illustration would make it a lot easier to read the article. Thank you, E

  54. Karri  August 10, 2017 at 11:13 am Reply

    This article has some very practical applications to help those with grief brain. I can certainly identify with the time lapse which I call, The Middle. In this place is where I began journaling. Sometimes I do nothing at all but mostly it is where I try to understand the before events or try to find the answers to living in the after. The location of the middle was originally literally on the middle landing of the staircase that lead down to where I found my son suspended by belts tied to the pipes above him. The stairs leading up is a place where everything was still status quo. The middle has now moved to my car, to the grocery store or any place that I am. I created a private Facebook page to unload some of my thoughts to lighten the weight of my overloaded brain and heart. I do get relief, a reprieve even it’s for a brief moment. I seek professional help to process the trauma and the grief. I recognize that I cannot return to the former me. I have allowed myself to do nothing for long periods of time. My love and commitments allow me to accomplish many things even if I’m not totally “all there” in the process. The single most life sustaining support is my God who has surrounded me with a new community where I feel I am not alone. I have met some very beautiful people who I have never met before. We listen to one another and that is a great gift. We speak the names of our loved ones and talk about their life. I would have to say if there was one thing that keeps me in the prison of brain grief it is being with people you want me to go on as if nothing happened, to adopt to their idea of acceptance, to squeeze me back into skin that no longer fits the body and soul of a grieving mother. I have condensed what I need to concentrate on. Many of the activities that I thought once gave meaning to my life has been exposed and thus has been discarded. I’m thankful for people who write about the challenges of living with great loss. There is a mysterious healing that occurs when I can say, I am not alone, I’m not crazy I’m just on the new road that is being paved by each step.

    • Megan  September 19, 2019 at 12:16 am Reply

      I am so sorry for your loss. I too am in the middle… I go to work… Chaos…come home more chaos(most days). The Middle. That just stuck with me. Prayers for your healing.

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