There is a phrase used for widows. It’s called “widow fog.” It means you are in survival mode and not cognitively all there. You are functioning. You are taking care of the kids, running the errands, going through the motions. But the grief is muted. The brain is protecting you from the full weight of the grief.
I found this to be the case for me. The first year alone was hard when it came to grief. I’m not going to sugar coat that. I felt like I was walking around just living, functioning, and trying to get through the day. Of course, I had ups and downs as anyone would. But I look back and don’t know how I did all of what I did.
When he first passed away, I would talk to my husband every night I went to bed as if he were there and could hear me. However, at some point, I stopped doing that. I no longer reach over to his side of the bed. I don’t refer to his side of the bed as “his” anymore. I went from sleeping only on my side to sleeping in the middle.
However, this holiday season, I was hit hard with grief. I felt all of my cognitive function. I was here and present. My husband’s favorite time of year was fall. As the leaves changed, I would drive around, dropping off or picking kids up and just cry. I got flooded with odds and ends of memories of him. For some reason, driving and in the shower tend to be when it hits more often. I do not judge myself or feel uncomfortable to cry. The thing I want to communicate is the intensity of the grief has felt different. This seems to be common. The first year is almost a blur. The second year feels more intense. Now, I am not boxing all widows or all grief into this category. I am expressing my experience and that of some of my clients.
So, what has helped me? It has been greeting the grief, saying its name, acknowledging it. “I am feeling grief right now. It feels like _____ ….” I describe it as best as possible. I let all the emotion move through me and pass when it is ready.
If this resonates with you and you would like to talk more about it, I invite you to follow the link and set up a free mini session.