Filush-Glaze: Exhaustion the other grief response

Published 3:35 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Jenny Filush-Glaze
Grief Relief

Most of the time, when you ask a group of people what the most common response is to losing a loved one, the answer is “sadness” or “depression.” They then might rattle things off like “loss of appetite” or “inability to sleep”, but they almost always seem surprised when I start to talk to them about how exhausting grief can be. In fact, the look that crosses their face most often goes from confusion to confirmation in a matter of seconds and a sigh of relief escapes from deep within their souls as they are given an answer as to why they haven’t been able to function at the level that they are used to.

For those who have not experienced the perils of grief, it is impossible to fully comprehend the energy it takes to just survive each day. Imagining having to get out of bed, showered, dressed and ready for the day can become a task that is so daunting that many find themselves falling back into bed, unable to function. In fact, it is surprising to me how many people think that all they need to do to get their energy back up to speed after a death is to just “sleep real good for a few days- catch up, so to speak.” I wish this was a cure all and that it was something we could prescribe- “take a few hours of sleep here and there, drink some water and call me in the morning”- however, sadly enough, it just doesn’t work that way.

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Part of the ever popular “it takes time” mentality is that we often overlook how much time it takes to have our energy restored. Grieving is incredibly hard work and it taxes the strongest of us, leaving us feeling weak and wrung out like a limp dishrag. If I have learned anything about grieving is that we become uncomfortable when we feel out of control. And honestly, grief is definitely something we cannot control or tame, no matter how hard we may try. But, we still continue trying which is where the exhaustion comes into play once again.

Point blank, exhaustion is real. Grief is the weight of a thousand pounds being carried around daily, so please try to give yourself permission to not always be at “full strength.” I’m not going to say that this is possible or impossible, but I do know that we deserve more credit than we tend to give ourselves for making it through another day. Lastly, tell yourself that you are doing the very best that you can and that no one is expecting you to run a sprint when bereavement is obviously a marathon. The energy will return, slowly, which is a blessing because we will continue to need it as we face the painful memories of our grief journey.