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bongo's avatar

How can I keep my mind focused when grieving?

Asked by bongo (4292 points ) December 27th, 2011

I know this has been asked before but I want to link this to my personal situation. Sorry to do this!
Ok so I have been finding it impossible to concentrate on anything. In October a friend of mine died in a hang gliding accident, he had been travelling for the past 2 years and I hadn’t seen him for ages but spoke on facebook often, he was 25. On the 23rd of this month another good mate of mine died, he slipped into the river on his way back from a party, he was 22. I am in the middle of doing my masters and have lots of exams and coursework I have to do. I do not have time to stop. I took a few days off over Christmas and after I found out about my most recent friend’s death but I just havent been able to concentrate on anything. My eyes just glaze over. I am usually not the greatest at concentrating but I do manage to get things done. The more time I can’t work for, the more worried I get and the less I can sleep.

I have dealt with death before, nan died last year, the other nan the year before and other family friends and neighbours before that.

I Need to get back to my work but I just can’t do it. Please has anyone got advice on grieving with a busy schedule? I can’t let my masters stop for this. I am doing biology subject and the animals will not wait for me to sort myself out. If I take too long my whole project will fail.

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13 Answers

linguaphile's avatar

I’m so sorry you are going through this and it is difficult. I think the more you fight off grieving, the bigger and tougher it will get to deal with. If it was me, I’d take a little quiet, uninterrupted time, and little time can be found, to recognize the deaths, the memories and friendship.

My own personal ritual is to light a white candle, and while watching the candle, I think about that person and memories we shared, I think about the good and bad memories, I think about, but don’t dwell on their manner of death, think them looking down on me and I’ll send a spoken/thought message to them. When I feel I’m done, I blow out the candle. It’s my own ritual, but if something like that helps, do take a little time to do something for their memory. It doesn’t take much time but is worth it.

You’ll feel a whole heap lot better afterwards, won’t be stressing about grieving, and will be able to focus.

whitetigress's avatar

Focus in on your education. Do it for him. He wouldn’t want you to be sad for too long. Try to translate the sadness into a much stronger work ethic. You can do it. Regardless of what faith you believe in. Just know, he is no pain whatsoever. He is free. And you should not forget his spirit, but let go of the sorrow. I’m sure he would love this for you. Positive vibes and prayer sent your way :)

Coloma's avatar

I’m so sorry for your losses. Life has a way of ramping up the action now and then.

I agree with @linguaphile You really need to find/create some space to feel your emotions and process them.

What we resist, persists, is a mantra to live by.

Pushing away our sad feelings only sends them underground and they will arise in other ways, sleep issues, depression, health issues.

Being able to access and truly experience ones feelings is strength, anyone can run and hide, bury their feelings, but it takes a truly strong person to actually do the healing work of feeling.

You can’t heal what you won’t feel. :-)

whitetigress's avatar

What they mentioned. Have a gripe session alone, and let it all out. Then back to business.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

When the thoughts are overwhelming and distracting, give yourself a 20 minute power session to write or type out whatever is going on in your head. Keep it in a folder, something you can read over and add to as you feel the urge but only during the 20 minute times. It’s worth a try, a little emotionally exhausting but you must allow yourself to grieve even if you think it’s a long time.

marinelife's avatar

Consider joining a grief group. it will give you a place to focus your grief work. If you are attending to it, it may leave you alone in the meantime to handle your school work.

What you can’t do is try to ignore it. It may well be that the deaths of people your age has made you much more aware of your own mortality.

gailcalled's avatar

Let yourself have a mini-nervous breakdown several times a day. In my experience, they lasted about 20 minutes and I was then able to function pretty well (until the next).

You do have a deadline looming, which is too bad. I would have loved to have had some animals available to talk to or to weep with. They may be helpful. (What kind of animals?)

Since you must do one and want to do the other, do both

I send you my deepest sympathies.

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m sorry for your losses.

As others have stated, but I’ll say in a slightly different way: Don’t try to avoid the grief. Give in to it – from time to time and for as long as it takes – and then get back to business.

What I’m saying is: Don’t try to fight it. That’s what’s taking your concentration now, and that’s failing you on two counts. In the first place you’re not allowing yourself to grieve and “get past the worst of it” in a completely normal and natural process, and in the second place you’re devoting too much energy to “trying not to grieve”.

Grieve. Then work. Repeat as needed.

BosM's avatar

Sorry to hear about the loss of your friends. As you know, grieving is never on a convenient schedule but you need to allow yourself time to do so.

I suggest you start a journal, make an entry for each day, write about some aspect of your friend’s life, your friendship, what unanswered questions that you have, and how you might rationalize answers to them. Allow yourself a specifc amount of time each day to do this (30 minutes?) until you no longer need to. Writing a little at a time keeps this manageable for you while still attending to your graduate school,

In her book, “On Death and Dying” Elisabeth K├╝bler Ross, MD describes the five stages of grieving when suffering a loss (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.) Be prepared to deal with each phase in your jounal. Good luck to you. Peace, BosM

Bellatrix's avatar

Make sure you let your tutors/lecturers know what you are going through. You may be able to take or need a little extra time or get special consideration if you have exams or the like.

I agree with @linguaphile, you have to let yourself grieve. One way or the other, it will happen.
I also think getting some counselling, whether in a group or individually, would help too. You have suffered great loss. Having someone to talk to about how you are feeling might help.

Don’t feel nobody will care though. Speak to your doctor, get a medical certificate (even if you don’t plan to use it) to show your concentration is affected by grief/anxiety. If you do change your mind and do feel you need to ask for special consideration, you have the paperwork to support your request. At my uni, you don’t have to put this paperwork in immediately. There is some room to take into account people are sometimes not thinking clearly or aren’t able to do the ‘paperwork’ straight away. If you go into an exam and have a breakdown, you may decide you do want to put a claim in later. Don’t see this as a weakness or cheating. If you can’t work to your normal level, and have a good reason why you can’t (and you do), there are mechanisms in place to help.

Sunny2's avatar

What would the friends that died tell you? Concentrate on them and see if you can hear their voices (one at a time). Listen to them. I don’t think they will tell you to fall apart for their sakes.
I say this with great sympathy for your loss.

bongo's avatar

Thank you for your support everyone, I think I will try the candle thing @linguaphile said.

pussinboots's avatar

Grieving must be done….....however if you want to alter your thought train the i find saying the word THE interupts my thoughts and gets me back on track….so when you sense the feelings of dread about to wash over you try the above method and repeat the word THE over and over you may well be surprised by ( excuse the pun) the results. And when you find the down time in your day then thats the time to let it all out.
Permanent surpression brings trouble so you must find the time to let this person go.

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