Posted on

Inertia and Moving Forward Towards Functionality:

If the word healing doesn’t describe what you are seeking completely enough, perhaps the word functionality might help express how you feel and what you are looking to become more clearly than healing does. We can use that word as an action word, as something to describe what we are trying to do in our grief journey and in our lives.

Especially in the early days, weeks and months of our grief, the weight of our grief can be so heavy that we are often immobilized by it and we can find ourselves just sitting and staring or crying or remembering or not thinking at all. At those times, any ambition to move often seems unavailable to us. 

Some version of this appears to be quite common in most people’s early grief. With time, however, we also need to consider making the effort and then learning the skills it takes to overcome that inertia and “get moving” once again as we begin the journey back to functionality and living in the next part of our lives.

So, inertia is a term we can use to talk about that grief fatigue, of mostly being unable to find the physical and/or mental/emotional energy or strength to do things. 

Inertia: An object at rest tends to remain at rest! But, an object in motion tends to remain in motion…

In our early grief, it’s simple things like getting up off the couch or getting dressed or on some days, even getting out of bed. Later on, it can manifest in many other, more complex ways, like not getting something fixed around the house, not cooking dinner or not cooking at all. And it can also manifest not just as a physical lethargy, but also in thoughts like I can’t or I won’t, stopping us from doing things that we might want or need to do.

The level of inertia we experience is, as with most things, individual. Personality, circumstances, needs, work, children, pets, available help and many other things affect each of us differently. The constant seems to be, at least at some level, that our grief tends to hold us still

A powerful thing we can learn when we are ready, is to overcome that feeling of not wanting or being able to do things and to learn to move forward towards functionality again. Hard or easy, slow or fast, it’s another part of the healing process and the return to living that seems to be a fairly common need across the community of the bereaved.

Especially in the early days, but also throughout the journey, some thoughts that might come into our minds that we may not even realize are part of the mental/emotional inertia trying to keep us immobile are: it’s too hard, it takes too long, I’m too tired, I don’t want to, I’m grieving and I don’t have to, it doesn’t matter if I don’t, I don’t care and others as well. 

Overcoming these thoughts and feelings is possibly one of the most difficult but also one of the most important things we need to learn.

So, throughout our grief journeys, our minds and sometimes our bodies, keep telling us we can’t do stuff and in our grief, we tend to believe it. Once we can begin to deny that, we can find ways to do pretty much everything we want or need to do, once, no matter how we feel, we learn to stop listening to the I can’t and substitute I can and I will

The sooner we begin to fight the inertia and learn to overcome it, the sooner we will begin to find the energy again to pursue all aspects of our lives. It is a major part of our healing journeys, of building the strength and confidence to be able to live again. 

While overcoming inertia can happen on its own, it usually happens very slowly and gradually. If we work on it, we can often accelerate the process and perhaps avoid letting habits of grief develop that we later have to figure out how to break.

It’s not an easy task and it’s actually easier to not work on it and to let let ourselves remain static and just drift along. But it’s a critical task we should try to take on as soon as we can. At some point, we need to escape the trap of: I can’t turning into I won’t and I don’t.

Overcoming the inertia:Again, it rarely or only slowly just happens on its own, we usually have to work at it to get to see significant change… More next month about how we might work on overcoming inertia!


  • Are you struggling to find not just the energy but the ambition to do things?
  • Do you feel something like inertia in your life?
  • What types of physical inertia do you experience?
  • What types of mental/emotional inertia do you feel?
  • What does it sound like in your thoughts?
  • What specific thoughts do you have that keep you from doing things?
  • What do you do when you feel and think these things?
  • Have you tried to do anything about it?
  • What might that be?