This Is Your Brain on Grief

This Is Your Brain on Grief

If you knew and loved one of the 500,000-plus people lost to the pandemic, here’s what might be going on in your brain right now.

Yesterday, the official U.S. death toll from the pandemic reached 500,000 people. Half a million husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, friends, lovers. Covid-19 is now the leading cause of death in the U.S., and more lives have been lost to the pandemic than to World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined.

Each of those 500,000 people was loved by others, leaving millions of us to grieve those lost lives. Artists, philosophers, and better writers than I will help place this loss in context and perhaps bring meaning and a kind of sharp, beautiful truth to the pain that so many are feeling right now, a pain rooted in love. What I can offer is to explain a little bit about what’s happening in your brain when someone you love dies, and I hope that sliver of science may provide a small amount of clarity and understanding about why it’s so awful and confusing.

Your brain is grieving

Psychologist Mary-Frances O’Connor, who specializes in grief, says that there is a difference between grief and grieving. You will likely never stop grieving the loss of your spouse; 20 years later, the sadness and yearning will still be there, but it won’t always be the overwhelming waves of pain that bring you to your knees at the beginning. Those pangs can last for months or even years, but eventually, they will start to be balanced by a resiliency and the return to a meaningful life without the person.

Read the full article from Elemental here


Published Date: 
02/24/2021 - 08:32