This post is a continuation of my generated list of 30 words that could be used to describe grief. Obviously this list relates to my experience with grief, so I am interested to see if anyone else can relate with some of these words. I plan on continuing this series of postings that will not only define these words, but expand on why I thought they would be good descriptors.

The fourth word I chose is:

Exhausting: Defined as “tending to produce fatigue, weariness, or the like”

It’s been almost seven years since the death of my daughter Katie and just at 5 years for the death of my son Noah. I can honestly say that there are still days that I feel exhausted. I use to be able to survive 16 hour work days and feel refreshed the next day. I have lost my ability to work long hours, mainly because my ability to handle high levels of stress has also gone away. I would suspect that it also has to do with the fact I look at life differently now. I try not to rush through my day like I use to before the deaths of my children. My desire to get the slap on the back “at a boy” that I use to strive for has also disappeared.

I remember shortly after the death of my son Noah my wife and I took 3 months off of work to start the healing process. During this time, we would often fall asleep holding hands because we didn’t want the other person to let go of us out of fear of one of us slipping away. We were not sure we could survive the loss of another child. We were still dealing with the first death, and now we had to find a way to survive this one. When we did finally fall asleep, we would sleep for almost 10 hours every night. We woke up when we wanted to. We didn’t have to be anywhere in particular since we had taken the 3 months off. I really don’t remember a whole lot from the summer of 2006, but I to remember I wasn’t able to do much. The only thing I remember is that I would bike and run almost every day or take on a small home project that would take me days to complete. I felt exhausted most of the time. I suppose my body was using all of its energy to help me cope with the death of Noah and Katie and it didn’t leave me much energy to do anything else.

Another issue that I have experienced as part of this grief and I guess it could fall under “exhaustion” is the fact that I have a difficult time staying focused. I have always joked about having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), but the level of my inability to focus has become a lot more pronounced since losing my children. I can sit at my desk for hours and go home at the end of the day and not know what I really accomplished at work that day. It has gotten much better over time, but I still have those days from time to time.

The good thing is that when I am working on the Grieving Dads Project or taking classes to become a counselor, it invigorates me. Mainly because I know that I am helping others that are trying to survive the death of a child.

Anyone else experience levels of exhaustion as part of grief?


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User Comments ( 14 )

  • Mom4ever

    Yes, yes and yes. I could almost change what you wrote to have my name on it. Thank you for writing it.

    I am currently waging an all out war on my exhaustion. And it is war. And I don’t get so far for my effort… still… I could list exhaustion under “things that really piss me off”. It is exasperating. I was never like this, others look at me as if I have “issues” because of it. I could always pull off whatever I have had to at the 12th hour, even. Now, i’ve passed out long before then and am desperate to get done what I need to do.

    • mom4ever,

      You are welcome. I am glad you could find comfort in knowing you are not alone in your exhaustion. It is a battle everyday. I find myself getting really bored with work and life and have found myself seeking adventure more than I use to. Its the only thing that gives me energy.

      Thanks for sharing.


  • In the beginning, I thought taking care of a child with Osteogenesis Imperfecta was exhausting. All the worry of how to handle my little Z as not to cause a fracture, all of the nights she would only sleep for two to three hours a night, all the restless nights in the hospital. I thougth all of that was draining. But that is nothing compared to the exhaustion I feel today. While I was never a morning person, I do have to say that getting up in the morning is probably the hardest thing to do. I find myself hitting the snooze button more and more. When I finally get up I look at her picture on my dresser and that helps to motivate me. I’ve tried to keep myself busy as to not let the exhaustion take over but eventully it catches up to me. These are days I cry a lot and have no desire to do anything but stare at picture of my little girl.

    I also see exhaustion really effecting my wife and thats one of the hardest things to see. I know that she is grieving tremendously and that there is nothing I can do to help her beside letting her work through this process. Grief is tough enought to deal with and feeling exhausted physically and emotionaly sure does not help.

  • Jack Hobby

    I to dealt with grief in a different way than my wife, she could not understand why I would fall asleep so easily. I had no control of it I would sleep for hours. I lost all interest in doing the things I had done all my life. Building race cars, keeping the yard , repairing anything broken. I still don’t have any interest in doing many things . My wife and I had a hard time with each other for a few years. We would argue with each other. To make a long story short we did not under stand that we were grieving differently and it took years to understand, now we know that we are the only ones that under stand each other.

    • Jack,

      It took my wife and I a while to figure each other out as well. I think thats pretty common. I agree with you, we are the only two (wife and I) that really understand each other.



  • Todd Mc

    I totally agree on everything you describe. I am approaching the 1 year mark since my son Max died, and I cannot concentrate at all. I gave up wearing a watch…by the time I put my wrist down, i would forget what time I had just read. And exhaustion…I am starting to have “manic” days where all the energy I seem to not have most days piles up and I can get a lot of projects done around the house. However, I cannot count on having any energy on any given day, so planning ahead doesn’t happen any more (and I used to be a “list” person all the time, getting a ton of stuff planned out in advance).

    • Todd,

      I get the “list” person, I use to run 2-3 different lists for the thigns I had going on. I too experience those “manic” days where I wake up and I feel like the old me and I get a ton of stuff done. But you are correct, you can’t count on that everyday. Most days are good but there were be times where I wear myself down so I have to take a step back and re-energize. I am still trying to figure out what my new stress level is, but its not easy.

      Thanks for sharing.


  • DeLeon

    Spot on — exhaustion is real and ever-present, for both me and my wife. We could barely get out of bed when our first child died, and the twins that came two years later were pretty much the only thing that got us out of bed and kept us going, especially after our fourth child died. The twins of course are a godsend, something I have to remind myself of on days when the exhaustion and other symptoms (or realities) of grief seem to be a bit too much. My wife is a godsend too, but as she and I grieve in different ways (her more towards sadness and regret, me more towards frustration or anger), our twins remind us every day of what is still good in life, and that even the few weeks we had with each of our other two children were and are precious. Of course, raising our twins also leads to its own kind of exhaustion, but that is the kind that every parent has the right to expect and deserves to experience. That exhaustion leads to restful, peaceful sleep and waking refreshed to a new day, often awoken by the beautiful smiles of your children. The exhaustion from losing children never seems to offer rest or peace. Everyone says the symptoms of grief (like exhaustion) fade or lessen over time (though I know they never go completely away), but in the nearly six years since our first child died, I have not experienced much fading or lessening. Sometimes I pretend, but it’s still there, as it has been from the first days after each child died. Distractions help, but they do not heal.

  • It is almost too exhausting to leave a response. Yesterday I posted about “setting goals” (I’m too weary to explain) and today was a damn mess.

    I feel like I will always be…exhausted.

  • Thank you for this. It’s been two years since Braeden died and I still struggle with this so much. Though still frustrating, it’s encouraging to know that it’s not unusual. I have attributed it to the grieving process, but recently someone said to me that they wondered why it was taking me so long to grieve. Braeden was almost 4 years old. We fought for his life for half of his life. He was flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. I’m supposed to just get over it and move on? Thanks for the encouraging post. I needed it today.

  • Steven Stuart

    Exhausting is a great word to describe what I feel quite often. The definition you chose to use “tending to produce fatigue, weariness, or the like” is only one part of it to me. I do feel the physical, mental, and emotional fatigue; but I also feel the “draining of resources or properties and depletion” that is associated with the exhausting of me. There are days that I feel as if Colin’s death has depleted me. I look in the mirror and feel a profound sense of emptiness as if the person in the mirror looking back at me has no soul. It is a very lonely feeling on those days, and I have to dig into the depths of my being to grab onto something to get through those days. Usually that “something” is my daughter and my wife. If not for them, those “exhausting” days would probably win. Fortunately I have them so I can tell the shell of a man in the mirror…”not today my friend…not today.”

  • Adrian Britt

    Absolutely…my excitement and motivation are both greatly diminished. it is hard to get going and I usually dread the next day. This causes me to stay up way into the late night early morning hours. Of course, this does not help. I am sure many of you can sympathize. This seems to be the most lingering part of our grief with the loss of our daughter Audrey. As a Dad, you are expected to be strong, and coping, for me, involves being there for everyone else. Late at night, I guess, is my time. Just my thoughts…God bless to all, Adrian

    • Adrian,

      I can relate with the diminishment of motivation. I have to force myself to actually get something done a work some days. Some days I feel like I am in a haze and could lay down and take a nap in the middle of the day. I NEVER napped before but I must say I do manage to sneak one in every once in a while home on the weekends. I think the profound losses have forced me to slow down and not rush through life. I had to learn how to relax. I still struggle with this often because of my natural “Type A” personality. I get frustrated with myself and my wife will have to remind me that I have lost two children and “the fact you can actually get out of bed and function everyday” is a huge accomplishment.

      Thanks for sharing Adrian.