Although Montana has had ups and downs (47 one night and the high 90’s some afternoons), we are definitely in the “dog days” of summer. This period was thought by the Romans to be a poor time in people’s lives – definitely not like the spring, when their troops would “march” off to war in the name of the God of War. The definition characterizes this period as ”a period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence.”
The definition brings to mind some thought about lethargy, which is often a part of grief and/or depression. Since I experienced a major time of lethargy and know what it can do to people, I wanted to re-share a story which I tell in my book, “Walking at the Speed of Light.”
One winter I found myself being nonproductive in my job as library director. I seemed immobilized – could not complete tasks, would end a day feeling that nothing was accomplished, etc., and also kept forgetting things. Because my parents both suffered from dementia, at 66 years of age I was really frightened that I was beginning that condition.
I took a break to go on a cruise with my daughter, an adventure which turned into a fiasco when our cruise ship was trapped in Houston Harbor by an oil spill. Because we were restricted to on-ship activities, we had extra time to talk. My brilliant bank officer daughter confided that she was unusually nonproductive, forgetting things, getting to the end of the day with nothing accomplished etc.
When she finished, I burst into tears and told her that in suffering the same symptoms, I had been afraid of dementia. Then we both realized that what we were experiencing was lethargy and nonproductivity brought on by our grief over our beloved Josh’s death. And we both began to heal.
This experience has two lessons to it. First, people need to realize that grief and depression can bring on lethargy and useless feelings, forgetfulness and much more and that they shouldn’t “beat themselves up” for those things. Guilt only makes that condition worse. Second, sharing the concerns with others who have or have had grief experiences can help us understand what we are going through and come to a point of coping and healing.
I just want to continue to share ideas about grief and life with people who long as I do for comfort and understanding.