On the Laziness of Grief

Flowers in a spotty vase

Flowers in a spotty vase

“And no one ever told me about the laziness of grief.” – C.S. Lewis

Grief has hit me in many ways, but the one I was least prepared for is the tiredness which floored me these past few weeks. For months I’ve been pushing through the stresses of daily life, carrying my family and caring for everyone else but myself. I’m not resentful of that, far from it – I am grateful that I had the chance to look after my husband as much as I could and be there for him fully in the last moments of his life.

It’s a privilege I guess which comes with the diagnosis of a terminal illness. You have that time to deal with the end of your loved one’s life while he or she is still there. I suppose you could say that my grief began when we were told there was nothing that could be done for Roger, and because of that I had him there, holding my hand and comforting me when I was at my lowest points.

Now he’s gone, my body is left in a state of shock and doesn’t really know how to adjust and carry on. From the outside, it might look like I’m coping, carrying on with daily life as best I can as really, what else can I do? But inside, I am exhausted, feeling unable to cope with simple tasks and craving time and space to think things through.

I’m been lucky enough to have a bit of that time now, as Sam has gone back to school and Florence is with her childminder three days a week. It’s given me a bit of breathing space and time to just process things a bit without the constant questions and demands of young children. My neighbours will probably tell you that my nerves just can’t take anymore when it comes to about the 5pm mark…

After our holiday to Filey I managed to get a few days and nights straight all on my own, something which can’t have happened for years. I stopped off at my parents’ house on the way home and the kids stayed there for a couple of days while I had some time at home. I have to say much as I missed them, I really made the most of the lie-ins, the time to cook and eat good food, a break from the non-stop tidying up which comes with little ones and most of all, the silence.

I could sit in my house, drink tea when I liked, get up when I liked, even leave the house when I liked! Simple things like being able to go out to the supermarket at 6pm are a perk of being child-free, or just watching TV at anytime before 9pm. I even started watching a film while eating my dinner one night, oh the luxury!

It’s simple things like this I think that are key to helping me relax a little and try to deal with some of the tiredness of my grief. I’ve just been reading up on whether this fatigue is normal. Despite knowing that whatever feelings I have will be normal, I am still comforted by finding out that tiredness is a stage of grieving which helps your body to cope. It’s your body’s way of slowing you down, making you look after yourself and deal with the physical aspects of pain.

I know I’ve quoted CS Lewis before but bear with me – I found this line which is from the book A Grief Observed which I have just started to read – “And no one ever told me about the laziness of grief.”

For me it goes some way to explain how the exhaustion I’m feeling is normal. And to be told that what you’re feeling is ‘normal’ is a sure way to make you feel better. Every page of the book so far has been a comfort, and I would say if you are in a position where you need to read something like this I would really recommend it. Lewis wrote it after the death of his wife, and it’s described as his way of trying to ‘argue out his grief’.

I also read this in an article I found helpful from American therapist Karla Helbert – ‘Sadly, though nearly all of us will experience the death of someone we love, and the pain that follows, very rarely does anyone tell us what to expect.’

So hopefully by talking about our own experiences of grief, we can help those who are yet to go through it, and also try to tell ourselves that whatever we are feeling, it is, in fact, normal.

Many people have said to me that grief comes in waves, and that is certainly how I’m experiencing it. As time moves on and I’m able to reach more of an acceptance of what has happened, it’s sometimes the unlikeliest of times when I feel that pain in my heart.

Walking by the beach, I wonder why I can’t walk with him. Waiting at the school gates I suddenly feel I need him there with me, and often wonder if he’s there, watching me, seeing how I am and looking out for me.

So if I seem happy I probably am, in that moment, managing to feel slightly normal. But I’m a long way off my ‘normal’ self and really do wonder if I will ever get back there. I’m told things will get better, but they’ll never be as they were, just different. It’s this different state that I suppose I’ll just have to get used to.

x Julia

A Grief Observed - CS Lewis

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  • Reply
    Erin @Yorkshiretots
    September 4, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Julia, we’ve never met but I just want to say I admire so much how honest and brave you are in your posts. Sending lots of love your way. x
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  • Reply
    September 4, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear or your loss. You are extremely brave. I believe that writing things down and getting them out there does help. I’ll keep you in my prayers.

    Laura / xx

  • Reply
    September 4, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    I’ve seen since Roger passed away you’ve been so busy and very organised with everything. I think the down time is probably needed lots and lots right now and I think you’re right about the waves. One of my friends lost her mum a few months back and she said of how she can see see a glimpse of someone on the street and she thought it was her. And I have to admit I did the same, even though I know she’s no longer here. It’s strange how there are so many stages of grief and how they affect people. Thinking of you lots xx
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  • Reply
    September 4, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    Love you Julia, you are the most beautiful writer and most wonderful person. I am wiping my tears away right now! Xx

  • Reply
    September 4, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    I’m so glad you’ve had time to let yourself rest and for once not be the one holding everything and everyone together. And keep on quoting CS Lewis I think he was an incredibly insightful writer and I’ve yet to read anything I didn’t like
    Carie recently posted…Stardust {handmade in a tent}My Profile

  • Reply
    Joanne Dodd
    September 4, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    Grief does come in waves, it still knocks me 10 years later. I am not consumed by grief but I now let it in instead of fighting it. It passes more quickly that way. The worst time for me is when I would love to tell my dad about something and I know he would love to hear it. xx
    Joanne Dodd recently posted…When did you stop feeling?My Profile

  • Reply
    September 4, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Julia, the reality is that no one is ever the same each and every day.
    This is normality.
    Tomorrow, next week, we will all be different on a cellular, physical level, a psychological level and generally our evolution will continue every minute of every day.
    Even if you remember times of normality you can never be those again unless you forget what you have learned and close the door to your future.
    Today is not your new normal just as tomorrow there will never be one normal. Only moments of stillness where we can cultivate understanding.
    Life goes on, sometimes faster, other times slower than us while sleeping and thinking are our intimate friends.
    Sending you many hugs <3

  • Reply
    Wendy dickson
    September 4, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    It is normal. Its your New Normal. Thats what i called it when i lost my mum very suddenly. We were extremely close. Life returned to a different way. ..hence New Normal. Never the same again. Just different. Everyone deals with amd feels it differently. This was my way x

  • Reply
    September 4, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    My heart really does go out to you. Grief really does come in waves. The ebb and flow of it still floors me sometimes. You are doing so well at such a hard time, I know I don’t know you but please look after yourself (as much as you can with kids to look after!) My thoughts and prayers are with you all xxxx
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  • Reply
    September 4, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    Julia this has broken me all over again – you write with such honestly. I understand every word you are saying and really hope you do take some time for yourself when the kids are at school etc. am sure writing has been a therapy of sorts for you. Please don’t ever stop. You are one brave and very inspirational lady x x big hugs and I literally can wait to do it for real soon x x

  • Reply
    Potty Mouthed Mummy
    September 4, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    I’m so glad you’ve had some time for yourself to rest a little and just be for a couple of days. Your writing never fails to move me lovely lady. Thinking of you often xx
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  • Reply
    September 4, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    It’s nice to hear that you are finding ways to gain new strength each day. I agree, grief does come in waves. I still get floored by it but now I’ve come to welcome it, I let it flow because I know it’s there to remind me that I still hurt but I know I can carry on afterwards, because that’s what you have to do. Your words are genuine and lovely and it’s so kind of you to share so that others can understand. I can remember how lost I felt at first and it seemed that no-one really knew how I felt, sharing is definitely good.
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  • Reply
    everything mummy
    September 4, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    You are so amazing julia it’s great you managed to get a couple of days you your self just take it easy and look after yourself thinking of you always xx
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  • Reply
    September 4, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    Dear Julia, I called it ‘can’t be botheredness’ and realised that the effort it takes to do normal everyday things was taking all my energy so accepted that if I couldn’t be bothered to do something then I wouldn’t bother doing it. I also felt that I was in an invisible bubble which was exhausting to carry round and often felt it was unfair when people couldn’t see it and told me I was being ‘amazing’ and ‘so brave’ (words that used to make me wince as I didn’t feel amazing or brave). My mantra for the last four years has been ‘treats and distractions’ and your gorgeous children will provide the distractions on a daily basis and lots of the treats of course but please make sure you have other treats too including peaceful times on your own when you need it. Love and best wishes, Rosemary x

  • Reply
    Mini Travellers
    September 5, 2015 at 7:46 am

    CS Lewis seems to hit the spot with a lot of things, so keep quoting. I love Rosemary’s advice in the comment above ‘treats and distractions’ sound like a great idea. Let’s treat you lots in a couple of weeks. xxx
    Mini Travellers recently posted…Auckland Castle with ChildrenMy Profile

  • Reply
    Hayley @hayleyfromhome
    September 5, 2015 at 8:10 am

    It’s no wonder you are exhausted Julia after everything, as things start to slow down again your body is trying to adjust, keep drinking tea! I think you are right about the waves, even I see things that make me think of Rog and I didn’t know him. From just hearing what people have said about him makes me stop sometimes and think of him…and you. I’m not religious but I still believe people watch over you, how could they not when there is so much love? xxx
    Hayley @hayleyfromhome recently posted…Feeling Adrift, Fresh Starts and Autumn HeatherMy Profile

  • Reply
    September 5, 2015 at 8:57 am

    C S Lewis was so wise I think. I’m glad you’re finding some comfort in his writing. Thank goodness you are getting some regular child free time now, it’s so important! As much as they keep you going they also drain you and I’m not surprised your soul is craving some silence and peace. You’re all, as ever, in my thoughts. Xxxxx

  • Reply
    Mackenzie Glanville
    September 5, 2015 at 9:00 am

    I think you are brave and wonderful for sharing this with us, I know you will help many people who are grieving due to your honesty. I am glad you found some time for you, make sure you keep doing that xx
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  • Reply
    September 5, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Such a thoughtful post, Julia. I’m so sorry for your loss and I agree it is really important for more people to talk about the feelings of grief. Hoping you get back to your ‘normal self’ in your own time and sure there are brighter times ahead x

  • Reply
    Eve Hughes
    September 5, 2015 at 10:11 am

    You have, as they say, hit the nail on the head with your writing. The closest feeling to what you’re going through was when I lost my Mum, my best friend, nobody tells you about the physical pain of grief. The knot that won’t leave your stomach, for me the deep gasps for breath that didn’t seem to fill my lungs and for some reason constantly sighing!!!! Weird. Sleep was a thing that eluded me for some time and my memory is of walking the downstairs rooms of my house all night with constant cups of tea, feeling absolutely shattered but unable to switch off in my head. Waking every morning to ask myself when am I going to feel normal again. It was only when I realised that I’d never feel normal again as I had known it but there would be a new kind of normality with someone missing that I could bring into my thoughts, talk to when I needed too or just sit and cry about was I able to feel I was getting there. Hang on in there lovely lady. Rest, relax when you can and take solice in the beautiful children that you created with your lovely husband and who are a part of you both. What an amazingly therapeutic thing your blog has been, for not only you but all those people you touch with your writing. You are not alone Julia. X

  • Reply
    Sarah howe
    September 6, 2015 at 7:42 am

    Your strength always astounds me Julia. I think you have such an amazing attitude through the tiredness and grief. I reckon the time to yourself was so important as the tiredness must be telling you to relax and rest as much as you can. I hope in time you start to feel a bit more normal even though that normal is different. Lots love xx #sundaystars

  • Reply
    Jen @ 4,128 miles
    September 6, 2015 at 11:31 am

    I am glad to hear that you were able to take some time for yourself and to even enjoy a film. My mum recently lost her husband and me my Dad. She is broken, but to the outside world looks to function really quite well . She often wonders what people think of her and asks herself if people think that she coping to well and therefore somehow did’t care. I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed about grief. How we can still manage to second guess ourselves, even through great pain. I’m not sure I’ve made a lot of sense. But I suppose I’m saying that it’s a personal journey and one you can’t understand fully until you too have felt the pain of losing a loved one. Thank you for sharing, I love your blog. #sundaystars
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  • Reply
    September 6, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    You’re bound to be knackered. Beyond belief. The emotional stress and yet still having to take care of your two children. You do need some time to yourself and some lie-ins and lazy days. Definitely do take all the help going. BIG hugs xxxx
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  • Reply
    Silly Mummy
    September 6, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    I don’t really know what to say, and there probably isn’t any right thing to say. Your writing is always very beautiful and honest. I am so sorry for what you are going through, and have nothing but admiration for how strong you are. #sundaystars
    Silly Mummy recently posted…Why Breast v Formula Should Not Be a DebateMy Profile

  • Reply
    Leigh - Headspace Perspective
    September 6, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    Beautiful post, Julia. The tiredness of grief took me by surprise, too – the physical exhaustion. Grief does come in waves, and often feels like it gets worse just when you think you’re turning a corner. Here for you always xxx
    Leigh – Headspace Perspective recently posted…No Child Born To DieMy Profile

  • Reply
    September 6, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    I can imagine you would be absolutely shattered. Emotional energy is just as tiring as physical and you have so much processing and thinking to do. The Solihull Approach explains the dance of reciprocity brilliantly which may help you understand how talking things through should help with your 5 o’clocks. You write so beautifully and I’m sure your words will be helping others experiencing the same. Big hugs xx #Sundaystars
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  • Reply
    Mrs H
    September 6, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    Oh darling Julia, I wish I could give you the biggest hug. In all of my years researching about emotional pain I learnt that the body really struggles to deal with it. It can cope with physical pain much easier. That is why emotional pain is so exhausting. It is your bodies way of dealing with it. So don’t fight it. I am so glad that you got to have some time just to be. You are amazing and are loved by so many people. I just wish I lived nearer so that I could be of more help. Hugs Mrs H xxxx
    Mrs H recently posted…Our recurrent miscarriage story: SadnessMy Profile

  • Reply
    Mummy Tries
    September 8, 2015 at 6:30 am

    Oh hon you are probably going to be a long way off feeling ‘normal’ for a long time. But it’s amazing that you recognise this, and aren’t trying to pretend you are, as I’m sure it’ll end up making you feel worse eventually (if that’s even possible?)

    My neighbour lost her 18yo to a very freaky car accident last year, and she said this to me the other day, which I felt was really poignant.

    “Sometimes it’s a matter of keeping going. I put one foot in front of the other, and it reminds me that I’m still in contact with the earth.”

    Sending you love and hugs xxxxx
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  • Reply
    Katie / Pouting In Heels
    September 8, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    Lovely, lovely Julia – I’m so glad to hear you’re managing to get a little time and space for you.

    After what you’ve been through, you are bound to feel utterly exhausted and yet, even with ‘the laziness of grief’ here you are still are sharing your soul through the most beautiful and eloquent posts.

    I admire you so much my love. Thank you for having the courage to share.


    P.S A friend of mine has just found out her husband is terminally ill so I will be recommending that she reads your wonderful blog. I have no doubt it will be a huge help and comfort to her, as time goes by. Thank you x
    Katie / Pouting In Heels recently posted…A LESSON IN HOW TO ‘FEEL GOOD’ FROM MY DAUGHTERMy Profile

  • Reply
    September 8, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    Oh love, once again you have got me itching to jump in my car just to come and give you a big cwtch! Listen to your body, like you said, it’s telling you to slow down and take some time to yourself. I know this is really hard when you have kids but it sounds like you have a few days each week now to just concentrate on you so take advantage of it and don’t feel bad if nothing has been done around the house from drop off to pick up time. Thanks for sharing this with #sundaystars xxx
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  • Reply
    Jane @ northernmum
    September 9, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss, you write so beautifully and eloquently. I can imagine you are a huge source of support to others who are facing the same sadness
    Jane @ northernmum recently posted…Dear Type 1, Lets talkMy Profile

  • Reply
    Sarah Doyle - let them be small
    September 13, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    I think writing and sharing experience of grief (or anything where extreme emotions are concerned) is important. It helps us process but also helps us to help others who might be reading xx
    Sarah Doyle – let them be small recently posted…Book PartiesMy Profile

  • Reply
    Alexandra @imeverymum
    September 14, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    Oh Julia, beautiful lady, I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through all this. I cannot even begin to imagine, you are an inspiration and paving the way for others to feel ‘normal’ as they go through these stages. You are so brave for putting your feelings out there. Love and prayers for you all xxx
    Alexandra @imeverymum recently posted…Save Syrias ChildrenMy Profile

  • Reply
    Three months on and some magical thinking - Rainbeaubelle
    October 30, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    […] back to the books. I wrote about one of them in my post on the laziness of grief, but since then I’ve got quite a […]

  • Reply
    Happy and sad, the two sides of grief - Rainbeaubelle
    November 11, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    […] written a bit about the laziness of grief and how I felt three months on. But recently, I just haven’t known what to say. My posts have […]

  • Reply
    December 1, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    Thank you. This is beautiful. I just lost my Grandpa and I’m feeling tired too. This was a comfort to read.

    • Reply
      January 27, 2022 at 7:46 am

      Thank you Cara, I am glad it offered some comfort, hope you’re feeling your way through it all a bit xx

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