Sunday, October 27, 2013

Checking Out

I have known for a while I suffer from widow brain. Can’t find my keys, barely remember what day it is or what my name is. I have looked for my car keys for twenty minutes only to find they were in my hand.. the whole time. I have to set reminders in my phone from things like taking my sleeping pill to grab my lunch out of the fridge before leaving for work. I have to have a reminder for everything.

Lately I have noticed a new side effect of widowhood. I guess it goes along the lines of widow brain. Maybe I have always had it and I’m just becoming more aware of my “issues.”

I can be talking to someone and a smell, sound or memory side tracks me. I check out. It’s like I step out of my body all together. The noise around me stops. All I can hear is my thoughts. While I can see the person I was talking to still talking to me, I can’t hear them or comprehend what they are saying.

I check out and go down memory lane. I leave the person talking while I take my brain elsewhere.

The memories start clicking before my eyes. Noise, smells, memories, it’s like an old projector playing a movie of my life. Bits and pieces of my life. Jumbled together, skipping from scene to scene and back again.

Eventually my check out stops. The noise around me comes whooshing back and I can hear the conversation again.. but I have no clue what they just talked about.

I’m sure I just stare at them with a blank face, not realizing I am looking at them, because I can only see the movie of my life in front of my eyes.

I find myself asking people to repeat themselves constantly and I can tell some people grow frustrated with me.

I have been trying to stop checking out when I am with someone. But it seems to be an automatic thing my brain does. There seems to be no control over it.

I have accepted I can’t control it.. so I’m taking the other side of things.

If you are with a widow and they seem to have checked out in middle of a conversation, here’s some tips.

First – Stop talking. Don’t take it personal. They are trapped behind a movie screen of their life and have no control over what is flashing in front of their eyes. Just stop talking and let them be checked out for a while.

When they come back, ask if they are okay.

Then start your conversation over and act like the check out never happened.

Don’t blame them for not being present. Don’t tell them they aren't listening.

Please be patient with people that are suffering from widow brain and checking out. While it is frustrating to you, it’s even more frustrating to the person that is widowed.

Please remember we have no control over what our brain automatically does. As much as we like to think we have it under control, the truth is most the time we don’t realize we have nothing under control.


  1. I do it all the time and it feels like a memory wipe. I come to again and can't remember anything about the thread of the conversation, much less the last few things the person said. It's disorienting.

  2. I didn't know this happened to other people. I didn't know.