“…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak…” Ecclesiastes 3:4, 7
C. S. Lewis called it the laziness of grief in A Grief Observed—a journal of sorts about his grief after the loss of his wife in 1960. As an aside, his book is aptly titled. He does not resolve grief; he only observes it. And his was the first book I read a few weeks after Kim’s death. C. S. Lewis said of this weary state, “I loathe the slightest effort.” I understand. Psychologists refer to this symptom or stage as the apathy of grief. Apathetic laziness descends upon the mourner. You just don’t care, or at least you don’t care much.
For me it presented as lack of interest and lack of motivation. It was as if I just didn’t care, at times. Some normal conversations seemed petty and unimportant. Some responsibilities or duties took a back seat—for months! Procrastination became a coping tool. I put off some tasks that I should have accomplished easily under normal circumstances. However, I just could not produce the energy or even the concern to address the simplest of tasks.
Fortunately, I’d done enough reading to know it was coming, and it was okay. It is part of the journey. My pastor asked me over a cup of coffee one day how it was being back at work. I said that it was mostly okay, but I added that I have low motivation at times. He reached across the table and tapped my arm and said, “You know that’s okay, right?” I said I knew it was okay. However, it didn’t feel okay. It is a bothersome stage.
“…And though my heart grows weary, I never will despair. I know that He is leading through all the stormy blast…” Alfred H. Ackley, He Lives
Low motivation, laziness, apathy, or lack of interest. Whatever you call this stage, it is very real. And it is very helpful to know it’s normal. It’s even better to know it’s temporary. Long and unwanted journeys are marked by weariness. It’s like other aspects of grief. It’s real, it’s personal, it’s a process, and it is temporary. It’s important to lower expectations, and it’s important to give yourself grace. It’s important to not grow frustrated.
It’s a stage that must be endured as you face loss. It’s a part of grief that is temporary but must not be ignored or hurried. It’s another one of those realities that must be pressed into in order to allow for complete healing. You have to outlast this apathy. You have to press through the laziness. You have to endure.
“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5
By faith, I know—or at least I hope—it’s temporary. This apathy or laziness is on its own schedule. Be gentle and patient. With me. With yourself.
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13