Written by Dr. Valentina Quintana MD on
April 18, 2022
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Valentina Quintana MD on:

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Grief brain fog is a condition that affects many people who are grieving. It can make it difficult for you to think clearly and can cause confusion and disorientation.

In this article, we will discuss what grief brain fog is, how long it lasts, and how to clear it effectively.

If you are dealing with grief and brain fog, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There are many resources available to you. We hope that this article will provide some clarity and guidance during this difficult time.

What exactly is grief brain fog?

Grief brain fog, also coined as “griever’s fog” and “widow brain,” is a mild cognitive impairment that can be caused by stress and grief or emotional trauma. 

This cognitive dysfunction can make it difficult for a bereaved person to think clearly, concentrate, or remember things. 

You may also have difficulty making decisions, solving problems, or multitasking.

Griever’s fog can often cause confusion and disorientation. It is not a mental health disorder, but it can be very distressing. 

How long does grief brain fog last?

Griever’s fog can last for weeks, months, or even years. It depends on the individual and how they are coping with grief.

Some grieving patients may find that their symptoms improve over time, while others may see that it persists.

If you are struggling with complicated grief brain fog, it is important to seek emotional support from your close friends and family members, and seek help from a mental health professional.

They can help you manage your symptoms and provide support during this difficult time.

Brain Fog Grief: Common Symptoms

Symptoms of grief-induced mental fog vary from person to person. However, there are some common symptoms that many people experience. These include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems (e.g., forgetting car keys)
  • Disorientation
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Struggles with solving problems
  • Tearfulness
  • Grumpiness
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Numbness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Often lost in a train of thoughts in the middle of conversations

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional.

They can help you manage your grief and cognitive fog effectively.

How to treat a griever’s fog?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for complicated grief brain fog. However, there are some things that you can do to help manage your symptoms.

These include:

Understanding grief and allowing it to run its course 

Taking the time to understand grief and how you deal with it can significantly help you in the long run. 

Grief is a natural process that takes time. It is important to allow yourself to grieve in your own way and in your own time.

If you try to suppress your grief, it can often make things worse.

Taking a time out

When you are feeling overwhelmed, it is crucial to take a break. This can be anything from taking a few minutes to yourself to going on a vacation.

If you are struggling to take a break, try speaking to your employer or family and friends. They may be able to help you out.

Identifying your support system

Having a solid support system is essential when dealing with grief and mental fog. This can include family, friends, or a therapist.

These people can offer you emotional and practical support during this difficult time.

If you don’t have a support system, there are many grief support groups available. These can be an excellent way to meet people who are going through similar experiences.

Challenging your negative thought patterns

If you are experiencing grief brain fog, it is likely that you are also dealing with negative thought patterns.

These can include thoughts such as “I’m never going to get better” or “this is all my fault.”

Challenging these negative thought patterns can help you manage your grief and brain fog more effectively. 

For example, if you are thinking, “I’m never going to get better,” try saying, “I am coping the best I can.”

This can help reframe your thoughts in a more positive light.

Making reminders

One of the best things you can do to manage forgetfulness when you’re dealing with grief and mental fog is to make reminders.

This can include setting alarms on your phone or leaving notes around your house.

Making reminders can help you stay on track and reduce the amount of stress you are feeling. 

Keeping a journal

Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be an excellent way to manage your grief and take note of your cognitive fog patterns.

Journaling can help you make sense of your thoughts and emotions and can also be a great way to track your progress.

If you are struggling to get started, try writing about fond memories with a loved one, things that made you happy that day, or what you are grateful for as your day begins and ends.

Maintaining a well-balanced, brain-friendly diet.

What you eat can have a significant impact on your immune system and brain health.

Eating a well-balanced, brain-friendly diet can help improve your concentration, memory, and overall brain function.

Some foods that are particularly beneficial for mental fog include:

  • Omega-three fatty acids
  • Blueberries
  • Dark chocolate
  • Green tea
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Avocados
  • Beets
  • Oranges
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Whole grains

Getting regular aerobic exercise 

Exercise is not only good for your physical health, but it can also improve your cognitive function.

Aerobic exercise, in particular, can help increase blood flow to the brain and reduce the levels of your stress hormones.

Some great aerobic exercises to try include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Jogging
  • Swimming 
  • Cycling
  • Tennis
  • Dancing

Hydrating regularly

Dehydration can cause or worsen brain fog.

To prevent dehydration, it is important to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.

Aim for eight glasses of water per day or more if you are sweating a lot or have been vomiting.

You may also boost your fluid intake by eating foods high in water content, such as vegetables and fruits.

Reducing stress

Stress can worsen mental fog and make it more difficult to concentrate.

To reduce stress, it is important to find healthy coping mechanisms that work for you.

Some great ways to reduce stress include:

  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Spending time in nature
  • Getting a massage
  • Listening to calm music
  • Doing something you enjoy

Sleeping enough 

Getting enough sleep is essential for overall health and can also help reduce cognitive fog.

Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per night.

If you are struggling to get enough sleep, there are a few things you can try:

  • Establishing a bedtime routine
  • Limiting screen time before bed 
  • Creating a relaxing sleep environment
  • Avoiding caffeine before bed
  • Practicing relaxation techniques

Getting regular green time 

Spending time in nature can help reduce stress, improve your mood, and increase your focus.

So, if you are dealing with grief and mental fog, take some time to go outside and get some fresh air. 

You may also want to consider adding some plants to your home or office as they can help improve air quality and boost your mood.

Remaining socially connected

It is essential to stay connected with friends and family when you are dealing with grief and brain fog.

Social support can also help reduce stress, improve your mood, and make it easier to cope with difficult times.

There are a few different ways you can stay socially connected:

  • Attending social events
  • Staying in touch with friends and family
  • Joining a support group
  • Volunteering

Practicing mindfulness 

Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment.

When you are mindful, you focus your attention on your thoughts, emotions, and sensations without judgment.

Mindfulness can help you become more aware of your grief and mental fog patterns and can also help you manage stress and anxiety.

Some great ways to practice mindfulness include:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Qigong
  • Contemplative walking.

Playing enjoyable brain games.

Brain games can help improve your memory, concentration, and problem-solving skills.

They can also be a great way to take a break from grief and brain fog.

Some fun brain games you can try include:

  • Crosswords
  • Sudoku
  • Word searches
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Card games
  • Strategy games.

Getting professional help

If grief and mental fog are impacting your quality of life, it is important to seek professional help.

A neurologist’s perspective can help you manage your symptoms and give you tools to cope with brain fog and grief.

If you are struggling to cope with grief, there are a few different resources you can turn to for help: 

  • Your doctor
  • A grief counselor
  • A grief support group
  • A grief hotline.

The Bottom Line

Grief brain fog is a common and normal experience after losing a loved one or dealing with emotional trauma.

However, grief and mental fog can also be debilitating and impact your quality of life.

If you are struggling to cope with grief and brain fog, there are a few things you can do to ease your symptoms.

Some helpful coping mechanisms include:

  • Increasing your fluid intake
  • Reducing stress
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Spending time in nature
  • Staying socially connected
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Playing brain games

If grief and mental fog are significantly impacting your quality of life, it is important to seek professional help. 

Mental health professionals can help you manage your symptoms and give you tools to cope with brain fog and grief.

There are also a number of grief support groups and hotlines available to help you through this difficult time.

If you want to learn more about mental fog and how to treat it efficiently, here are some educational blog posts to read, and feel free to join brain health conversations in this online community. 

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