I been on an upswing as of late. My dance with Grief has been smoother, swifter and I’ve been feeling okay, sometimes good. I know I’ll be dipped and dropped on the dance floor in my future by Grief. It’s the way the dance goes. Yet, right now, I am feeling pretty okay and I’ll take it. The only the remaining constant since Peter’s death, is my widow’s fog.
Widow’s fog is a real thing when a spouse dies. It’s a scientific fact. The reason is bit technical and complicated as to what happens and why. Let me just simplify it by saying, there’s a part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, used to understand, memorize, recall and deal with complex issues. This part of the brain is compromised when death occurs, especially one of a spouse. Because now, the part of the brain accustomed to handle one thing at a time, is exhausted by the flood of decisions, memories and emotions. The person who normally helped those processes – recall, created memories and assist in understanding – is gone. So, a fog, a widow’s fog, descends and blocks out the normal process.
The best I can describe Widow’s Fog, or Widow’s Brain, is like walking around with a head cold. You want to focus. You really want to remember. You know you have to organize. And yet, the heaviness of the head cold, resting on your shoulders like a block of cement, doesn’t make any of it possible, and focus is gone. The only thing you feel is exhausted and frustrated.
I have made,then changed, decisions; and I avoided any decisions. I tend to ramble, especially in texts and emails as I try to organize my thoughts to make my point. My disorganization which, full disclosure, has always been with me, is worsened. And, because of all of these struggles, this effort to focus, I walk around exhausted, like all the time. Throw in a mind like mine, my all-over-the-place mind, and widow’s fog is almost frightening to have, like chill worthy.
I like my brain. I do. I like how it takes me from point A to point E in less than six seconds. I like the thoughts that pop up in it, thoughts most probably don’t even think about or wonder about. I like my mind’s deep thoughts, my mind’s funny thoughts, my mind’s trivial thoughts that all seem to arrive at once. It’s how I have always rolled and it helps my creative side. However, now with Widow’s Fog descending on it, I am tired and I struggle. I get embarrassed from forgetfulness and those ‘yeah-not-sure-where-I-put-that” moments. I cringe at the number of times I change my mind. And I am angered when I can’t decide. My brain I once celebrated, I am now hard on and I know this doesn’t help it, doesn’t help me, doesn’t help anything.
I am learning to accept the normality of my Widow’s Fog and its effects on my brain right now. I am trying to patient with myself, my brain, knowing, eventually my mind will return to whatever normal is for me. I am attempting to embrace the head cold feeling and then rest when I need it. I am convincing myself it’s okay to change my mind, put off some decisions. I am explaining more and more to my friends it’s not them, it’s me, and hoping they understand. And, I am giving my all to organization. The last one is the most difficult as it goes against something I never was, but I am finding it more helpful when I do.
Eventually, I will see the light in the fog. I will see a clearing to the other side. It takes time, especially since Peter was the one who made most decisions, who was the person to take over when I faltered, who had a love language of doing without me asking, and who was the person to center me. I no longer have Peter in my life to depend on, or lean on, or step in. I am missing my rock I had to balance on, to support me, to hold me up.
So, I stand on my own. I’m a bit wobbly. I’m a bit nervous. I’m a so out of practice. And I am totally overwhelmed. But I am standing. I am standing in this fog that surrounds me, trying to get my bearings in its murk. I am taking steps through it with my indecisiveness, my forgetfulness and my disorganization. And, when I do finally get to the light of my new normalcy, when my brain returns to its own normalcy, I will dance the most beautiful dance with Victory while Grief watches from the sidelines. Until then, I’ll just keep moving.