Grief Exhaustion


BY: Diane Snyder Cowan

CATEGORY: Grief and Loss

One common characteristic of grief is exhaustion. If you are newly bereaved, you may be feeling more tired than usual. You may feel so tired that you think you may have the flu as the only other time you have experienced this weakened state is when you have been ill. Small tasks may seem monumental and every routine chore becomes a huge job.

Grief is hard work and the business surrounding your loved one’s death can also take a toll. Perhaps you sat vigil the final days of your loved one’s life and even if you weren’t sitting vigil, you may have been so pre-occupied that you could not get a decent night’s rest.

After the death, there were all of  the “things” to do from planning a funeral to getting papers in order.  Then perhaps you were surrounded by loving family and friends during calling hours. As wonderful as this is, being receptive and making small talk can be tiresome.

There are physical reasons that cause fatigue when you are grieving. The death sets off a strong stress response in your body which increases steroid production. That, coupled with the magnified feelings of grief, can take a toll on your central nervous system.

You may be unable to sleep or you may be sleeping all the time. You may fall asleep for a few hours and then wake up or you may wake up very early. The result is that you feel tired down to your very core, down to the marrow of your bones. You may feel like you are walking in mud simply walking into the kitchen.  Just thinking about doing simple chores causes weariness.

Give yourself time to grieve and work through your feelings.  This is a period of adjustment. The extreme fatigue will subside in time. Be kind to yourself. Get rest and sleep.

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