Many people consider grief to be a response to the death of a loved one, but we grieve so much more than that. Grief is an emotional response to loss of any kind. Both real or perceived loss can trigger the response. The loss of a job, a miscarriage, a breakup, losing a sentimental item, or big life changes like moving can all cause grief.‍

Grief fatigue is a very real thing. Even though we know that grief is a healthy response to loss, it’s perfectly normal to get tired of it. You’re not in intense pain, but it also isn’t getting any easier yet. It’s exhausting. Grief exhaustion refers to the deep and pervasive fatigue often accompanying the grieving process. It goes beyond the typical tiredness we experience in our daily lives and stems from the immense emotional and psychological strain that grief places upon us.

Grief can leave you feeling drained, both physically and mentally, making even the simplest tasks seem overwhelming. Even typical activities can feel like too much when our physical body and brain refuses to cooperate. The mind and body are closely connected and the grief process is a good example of that. The mental and emotional toll of grief can wreak havoc on a person’s mental and physical well-being.


Emotions are not always easy to deal with and having intense ones can be incredibly draining. Grief is a complex emotion that can be mentally and physically taxing. The profound sadness and range of emotions experienced during the different stages of grief can lead to fatigue and exhaustion. Even though you’re tired, you may have trouble sleeping or sleep a lot and never feel rested.

We often blame grief exhaustion on sleep deprivation—and that is a component. Sleep is essential, and needs to be prioritized. But, so many of us still feel exhausted and burnt out even when we finally start sleeping. Grief exhaustion isn’t solved with more sleep. Dr. Saundra Dalton Smith says we need seven types of rest. As I read her work, I find it especially applicable to grief.



Dr. Saundra pointed out that taking a comprehensive approach to rest is a bridge to better sleep and this is handled with attentive self-care. When we talk about rest outside of sleep, our minds might immediately jump to stereotypical “self-care” activities, like getting a massage or taking a bubble bath. Real self-care is nurturing our current needs. We might need to rest mentally, or to reconnect with our friends, or to be vulnerable with our emotions. Our needs are often rooted in the types of rest and what we’re lacking.

Being able to pinpoint what you and your body need in terms of rest will allow you to address the area and choose a restful activity that fits your needs.

When we understand the types of rest, we can become better aware of our own needs and make small changes in our lives that leave us feeling more whole, more energized, and more refreshed.