My Grief Amnesia – It’s Not You, It’s Me.

Grief amnesia. I’m not even sure if it’s a thing. However, it completely matches my reality. This has been a strange week. We are on the cusp of one year. The anticipation of dealing with those moments has me a bit overwhelmed. My mind is mixed between reliving every moment of last year combined with what feels like the first realization that he is gone.

Trying to wrap my brain around this journey, knowing an entire holiday was missed and he is gone, has not been an easy task.

For whatever reason, this week Facebook has decided to reveal countless messages that have been sitting hidden in my account. Messages that were sent last December and January…after. Some from acquaintances. Many from complete strangers that knew someone who knew me. All of them overflowing with heartfelt emotion.

I never responded to a single one! Didn’t even acknowledge their existence.

After, I remember my Mom asking me if I had received a card from someone she knew. I didn’t know. I didn’t remember. I still don’t. Some of the Facebook messages that were delivered had already been opened. I have no recollection of ever reading them. Now I feel compelled to respond to the unopened items, but I don’t because it would be weird almost a year later.

There are text messages that were sent by friends and family. Some of them even sent a follow message apologizing because they were afraid their first message had somehow upset me or offended me. That wasn’t the case at all. I just sincerely didn’t process a single one.

It wasn’t because I was ignoring them. That I don’t care. I hope it wasn’t viewed as rude. The real, honest reason was because those first couple of weeks were a total blur! My brain didn’t engage or process anything beyond my grief and survival. The outside world just didn’t exist. I call this grief amnesia.

I am sharing this now because I am anticipating more of these messages coming my way as Facebook memories so kindly kick me in the gut. No, I don’t plan to disengage to avoid it all. I find dealing with it, feeling it, is what I prefer to do. Even though this marks 1-year, much of it is like feeling it for the first time. My mind is now at a place where it can process, which causes it’s own level of anxiety.

So to those people that sent me messages a year ago, I sincerely appreciate them. To those supporting people that have lost a loved one, be patient and grant them room. Know that nothing they say or do is because of you. They are so consumed by their own world, by their own grief, to process anything happening around them. Much of what is going on around them is being forgotten.

I believe grief amnesia is part of the brain’s coping mechanism. When you experience something so traumatic as the loss of a loved one, you just aren’t in a place to feel everything. So your brain doesn’t allow you to remember or to process.

my grief amnesia

Regardless of this, send them messages. Send them texts. Leave a voicemail. Let them know you remember. Remind them you are there and sending love. Then let them be. Give them the space to respond if they want. Or don’t. No pressure on them. Try not to take any of it personally. It’s all in the process.

Grief never goes away. Even if they don’t appear to show it or years have passed without a single mention of it. It is still there yearning to be acknowledged. My challenge is don’t ignore it. Don’t let it make you feel uncomfortable. Just a simple acknowledgement will go so far. All that person wants to know is that you didn’t forget their loved one and you are thinking about them. While they may not respond, know you have touched their heart!

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6 Comments on “My Grief Amnesia – It’s Not You, It’s Me.”

  1. I just wanted to introduce myself. I just found your blog because I was on Pinterest looking for ideas for a balloon launch for my son. I lost my son one month ago. He was 18, but severely autistic, so he was like a small child that I would always be taking care of. His birthday is in two days. I feel like I am suffocating. Thank you for writing about your journey. I will be reading.

  2. I was my father’s caregiver and I have a whole year after (and starting before) he died. People keep saying “we talked about this several times!” and “you’ve told me!” it’s embarrassing and scary. I think you’re right about it being a coping mechanism. my grief was so intense, that time was just a fog of tears and depression and my brain had to room for episodic memory retention. it’s coming back after 2 years but I still ask people to be patient with me. Thanks for posting this and letting me know I’m not alone.

    1. You’re definitely not alone! It can be scary to think about just how much you should know/remember and don’t. Grief is definitely in control. Hugs!

  3. My darling daughter Tristan Hope was murdered 2 days before her 15th birthday & somehow I am still breathing. I don’t know how it’s possible to live with this kind of deep Neverending pain but if anything would have differed in any way I’m certain my heart would have stopped within a few months after my sweet baby girl. The pain in my chest truly felt as if it suddenly weighed 100lbs & wouldn’t go away unlike my mind & memory. No time concept at along with Missing Years with no memory and couldn’t retain any new memories. Felt crazy. untilI was informed of a grieving amnesia by another grieving mother thanks to a hospice nurse that told her. without a doubt my heartstrings were tearing and I could not go more than 5 minutes without crying uncontrollably nothing made sense. I believe it to be the brain’s way of protecting the heart and the human body saving itself if we like it or not. The pain & suffering continues but my Tristan & other kiddos keep me going. it’s amazing what you can do when you have no choice . gentle hugs and prayers to all the grieving mothers out there. for those who do not understand no explanation it’s possible but for those who do understand no explanation is necessary. I’m still breathing and trust me that is an accomplishment….

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