Extreme exhaustion. Lack of motivation. The complete cessation of productivity. If you experience these symptoms and more after losing a loved one, you are not alone. In fact, C.S. Lewis coined a term for this phenomenon: “The laziness of grief.” If you experience the laziness of grief, know that the path to healing may be as simple as setting small daily goals. Before you balk at the idea of goal-setting in your current emotional state, know that the goals in question are small, manageable and sometimes as simple as opening a window.
Let the Light In
You may have heard of SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, which affects people during the winter months when the sun shines less frequently. Symptoms of SAD include lethargy, fatigue, moodiness, lack of motivation and others similar to those of grief. Research shows that the brain produces more serotonin — the happy chemical — on sunnier days than it does on overcast days. While sunshine streaming through an open window won’t be the cure-all you’re looking for, it can give you a mood boost, which can help you tackle your other, slightly bigger goals.
Allow Yourself to Sleep
Sleep disturbances are a common symptom of grief. While many bereaved persons experience hypersomnia, which refers to excessive sleepiness, some experience the opposite — insomnia. If you fall into the latter camp, you may be dealing with the effects of sleep deprivation in addition to grief. Among several other symptoms, those may include depression, anxiety and irritability. You can help bolster your mental health and counteract the symptoms of grief by taking steps to increase the number of hours you sleep each night and improve your sleep quality.
Move Through Your Grief
Understandably, doing anything more physical than walking to the mailbox at this stage in the grieving process can feel taxing, but significant research exists that supports the role of exercise in healing. In fact, one study found that engaging in 30-minute workouts three to five times a week can cut your depressive symptoms by as much as half. Exercise can also give you a constructive outlet for your anger and provide an opportunity to “bliss out.” Though finding the motivation to work out may be a struggle, once you don those running shoes and hit the pavement, you will feel all the better for your efforts.
Plan Your Return To Work
Work may be the last thing you want to think about, but the truth is that you must return to the office at some point. It’s important that you carefully plan your return by setting expectations and holding yourself and your employer accountable to said expectations. Managing expectations and setting boundaries is crucial for avoiding burnout, as is valuing your own time and giving yourself the space to acknowledge and deal with your emotions.
Memorialize What You Lost
So many people are of the notion that memorializing the deceased only prolongs the grief, but the truth is that memorialization is an important step in the grieving process. In addition to helping honor loved ones and preserve memories, memorialization provides bereaved persons with a tangible way to connect with the departed. Memorials come in many forms, so be sure to do your research and work with AA Rayner and Sons Funeral Home to find one that honors and celebrates your loved one’s life.
Grief can be exhausting. While the laziness of grief is normal, do not let it become a lifestyle. Set small goals for yourself to help yourself overcome and move on in the healthiest manner possible.