The grieving brain: How your mind deals with a loved one’s death and how to heal

The grieving brain:  How your mind deals with a loved one’s death and how to heal

The grieving brain: How your mind deals with a loved one’s death and how to heal

  • by linda
  • February 14, 2022

After a loved one passed away, I kept being haunted by the feeling that I didn’t know where he was.

It gnawed at me. Ever since I could remember, I knew where to reach him, whether at home, at work, on a business trip or on vacation. Now, even though I knew he was gone, my mind kept trying to place him somewhere in the world and coming up empty.

This, it turns out, is a common phenomenon when people try to process a loved one’s death. Grief expert and neuroscientist Mary-Frances O’Connor likened it to the same panicked “pop-up in the brain” a parent would get if they were to lose track of their child in a mall.

“Just because we know cognitively that the person has died doesn’t mean those pop-ups won’t happen for a long time as your brain learns this is a whole new world,” O’Connor, an associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of Arizona, told TODAY.

“Part of having a bonded relationship is wanting to seek out the person when they’re away and that becomes just the background of everyday life.”

O’Connor is the author of the new book “The Grieving Brain: The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss,” where she explains what grief looks like from the perspective of the “little gray computer” in our heads.

Click here to read some of her findings about this very universal experience of human suffering.

Author A Pawlowski for today.com

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