If you want to figure out why you’re having such a hard time putting one foot in front of the other, why you’re forgetting appointments or your keys – AGAIN and why you can’t concentrate for shit, you need to understand that your psychological immune system is hard at work trying to save your ass.
Think about the last time you had the flu and how you could hardly get out of bed to brush your teeth. Why were you so weak? Think about it for a second. Not why you were sick or achey, but why fatigued?
Your physiological (body’s) immune system was trying to save your ass. It was in high gear, working really hard under the radar. It didn’t ask your permission, it didn’t need your advice, it just did what it needed to do: saved your ass.
Now, back to you and your functioning while grieving. I have long believed our psyche has it’s own immune system – it just made intuitive sense to me and it especially rang true with what we humans experience after a death of someone we love. Dr. Tim Wilson of the University of Virginia and Dr. Dan Gilbert from Harvard have officially coined the term “psychological immune system” and have done a lot of research on it, but in a nutshell it “protects us from buckling in the face of adversity or stress” (S. Lyubomirsky, p. 7, 2013).
So I believe that when you are grieving your is psychological immune system constantly at work, 24/7, without your permission, without your advice, doing what it does best: trying to help you survive this nightmare. That’s why you have no energy. That’s why you’re tired almost all of the time. You’re not conscious of what it’s doing, but you don’t need to be. Just like you don’t need to be conscious of what your body’s immune system is up to when you’re healing from the flu.
So you’re not pathetic or lazy or going crazy or losing your mind or whatever shitty things you’ve been saying to yourself. You happen to have a fabulous, amazing psychological immune system. So, next time you lose your keys, miss an appointment or have to order pizza again, think, “Wow, I’m grieving and my psychological immune system is working really well.”
Okay, I know you won’t think that, but at least after you think this, “Oh, God, what in the hell is wrong with me!!! When am I going to get my shit together. It’s been 4 months now. I’ve got to get a grip.” See if you can think this, “Okay, wait. I read that article thingie about that whatever immune whatever and that it’s normal for people grieving in the first year to forget shit and that I need to put one foot in front of the other and it’s okay and I’m okay and it’s okay to order pizza and I’m okay and I’m going to be tired like when people get the flu.” Yes!!!!!
Lyubomirsky, S. (2013). The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, but Does. New York: Peguin Press