Griefheimer’s Disease

I met someone this afternoon who told me the story about her daughter being killed in a car accident when she was only 16.  She even shared with me a picture of her daughter who was indeed a beautiful girl.  It is amazing how grief creates an instant bond between the people who are unwillingly left behind.  It is the kind of kinship you would never wish for but are relieved to find once you enter into that “family.”  I’ve felt more love in the last five months than I’ve ever experienced.  While she was hugging me she asked me my age.  I didn’t answer her immediately.  It wasn’t because I thought the question was invasive or inappropriate.  I didn’t respond because I couldn’t remember.  I started to panic.   How could I forget my age?!  I must have looked like an idiot…or just came across as rude.  You’d think she had just asked me to recite The Canterbury Tales in Middle English while balancing on a toothpick.  I knew the year I was born and so I was trying to work backwards and suddenly I lost the ability to count as well.

This isn’t the first time I have found myself utterly perplexed and confused by such a simple question.   Last week I completely forgot not only where I parked, but what type of car I drove.   Did I have a Ford, Honda, Toyota…I had no idea.  I just started pressing the unlock button on my key until I saw the tail lights of my car blink.  I’ve been asked very basic questions at work and I just stare at the person like a deer caught in headlights, afraid to admit that I can’t remember.  I call this phenomenon “Griefheimer’s Disease” and from what I’ve been told a brain going through grief looks very similar to a brain riddled with Alzheimer’s Disease.   The good news is that a “Griefheimer’s” brain will eventually repair itself but it could take a year or more.  I’m starting to wonder if I should start sewing my name and address in my undergarments…you know, just in case.



2 thoughts on “Griefheimer’s Disease

  1. Someone called it “Widow Brain” when I mentioned that I tore my house apart in a panic looking for my keys when they were in my pocket the entire time. I go upstairs with a specific purpose in mind and then stand their like an idiot with no idea why I am up there. I am looking forward to getting my brain back because I miss it. But on the plus side, with no idea what is going on or what I am doing, there’s more surprises.


  2. Interesting word- I think that I have that disease too! I truly believe that your meeting with that woman happened for a reason- your bond, even in a short meeting will be positive force to both of you in the grief journey. Sending you hugs- 🙂


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