Clients sometimes think that as a professional you get exempt from loss and can circumvent the grief process. Not true. There is no exemption from loss and grief. I had six life changing events between February through May of this year. Any type of loss is difficult, however with six, it’s after effects are mighty powerful.
Within the same week my two husband’s, former and current were diagnosed with cancer. My former husband died within 3 weeks of his diagnosis. My current husband underwent surgery twice, and started preventive treatments. I had to hire a lawyer to fight for benefits for my disabled adult son. My daughter’s Crohn’s disease flared. Recently I was diagnosed with Lyme’s disease. And last but not least, our house almost burnt down.
What I just describes is a cascade of loss. These are events that happen one after the other, sometimes months to a year apart, in my case all within a few months. A cascade of loss is like grief on steroids. Mine felt like as if my world turned upside down, inside out and hung out to dry. The stress was over the top. My husband said I was the rock. I was, it was necessary then, not anymore.
Now I can breathe and I am exhausted. I am in a mental fog, focusing on anything is a huge effort. My motivation is gone. There are many days that I want to run away from my life, to go to a place and just sit, do nothing and just be.
This is grief burnout. It’s like a natural disaster that is a wipe out. It’s physically, emotionally and spiritually draining, part of the natural response to a prolong stressful, physical and emotional strain. This is when it feels like there is now nothing more to give. That’s because the tank that ran on empty is now bone dry.
It’s easy for grief burnout to spiral into depression and prolonged grief disorder. To many events to process in a short amount time is overwhelming. Because I understood what was happening I wasn’t afraid of it. I knew that grief burnout was an indication or red flag that it was time to rest, rejuvenate, recover and then reengage in life when I am ready.
Stay tuned for Part 2 next week