Grief Brain is real. It can release high levels of stress hormones in the body leading to confusion, fuzzy thinking, disrupted sleep, and depression. There are techniques to help regain your balance.
A client recently asked me, “When will my head feel normal? I feel like I am always in a fog!!
Thinking feels like moving through molasses.”
“You’re experiencing Grief Brain,” I said.
If this is happening to you too, be reassured. Grief Brain is a natural reaction to loss and subsequent grief. The intense grief sets off a chemical reaction throughout your body and brain.
Here’s how the grief brain = brain fog connection works:
In the Raw Grief state, you feel heartbroken. The loss acts as a stressor, triggering the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotrophin (ACTH).
The ACTH sends a signal to the adrenal glands to release cortisone, a stress hormone.
So now you’re not only in the state of Raw Grief and feeling separation, but also in a hyper state of stress.
This early grief state, which can last 90 days or longer, is an intense, persistent stressor. Your body remains flooded with cortisone.
Next, your immune system becomes run down because of staying in a high state of alert. That’s why people so often fall ill after their partner dies.
Even when death is expected, the brain becomes “bottom heavy” – meaning that the fear centers at the base of the brain, also known as the reptilian brain, become over-active. Fear is now added to the stress. Feelings of hopelessness and despair well up.
The anterior cingulate cortex which helps regulate emotion is now under active. Your emotions run wild. They can feel like tsunami waves appearing out of no-where, not even triggered by a specific thought.
Over time this gives way to deep sadness or depression. In my own experience of great loss, I spent a year in this state of sad fragile grief.
The amygdala located deep in your brain, which regulates sleep, behavior, and mood is also triggered. The result is sleeping too little or too much. This is when sleep is disrupted, and you get trapped in “Brain Fog”.
Sleep is the next most important thing for your body after air and water. That’s why the Grief Assessment at Beyond Your Loss.com asks you to rate your insomnia and ten other behavioral characteristics of grief.
Finally, the hippocampus, which processes memory and regulates stress hormones, is whacked out. This gives way to feelings of anger or guilt.
Does this sound like you? Are you experiencing any of these symptoms of Grief Brain?
Help is on the way…….
Tune in to KKPZ radio program, Aging in Portland.
I’m talking about Grief Brain and how to regain your balance.
Wednesday, February 6th at 5:30 p.m. and
Saturday, February 9th at 11:00 a.m.
You’re invited to a unique Grief Support Group.
• Discover how to honor yourself in your grief journey.
• Get info and helpful coping tips.
• Experience YINN – Yoga specifically designed to release grief from your body. Taught by Vincent Eggleston, a sought-after Portland yoga teacher. Vincent can relate to those who’ve lost a sibling, grandparent, and other significant relationships.
Hit the REPLY button below and I’ll send you more information.
Reed’s “Deathversary”, January 24th, was a day of joy and celebration for me. A special thank you to a beloved friend who sent me this message, “I’m thinking of you this tender week. How may I support you? Sending you love all around, above, below, to the left and to the right, before you and behind you.”
Her blessing touched me so much, I want to speak it to your heart too.
Sending you love all around, above, below, to the left and to the right, before you and behind you,
PS. – Post this on Facebook or share with a friend needing a touch of love.
PSS. – for an in-depth talk about the grief brain watch this video: WATCH