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Inertia 1: Recognizing Inertia Throughout our Grief Journeys

Inertia is something that is part of most of our grief journeys whether we recognize it or not This post is the first part of a two part discussion of inertia (look for the 2/13/24 Inertia 2 -Thoughts About How to Overcome Inertia post).

Inertia is something that can and does manifest in all parts of our journeys. It can be very clear and obvious or it can be more subtle and hard to realize it’s happening. It may also be hard to understand that things we are feeling or experiencing might be a form of inertia that our grief imposes on us, that it is actually something that our grief is doing to us.

In the early days, weeks and months of our grief, the weight of our grief can be so heavy that we can be immobilized by it and we can find ourselves just sitting and staring or crying or remembering or not thinking at all. At those times, most of the  ambition to move or even to think of anything other than our grief often seems unavailable to us. 

Some version and level of this appears to be common in most people’s early grief. With time, we may want to consider making the effort and then learn the skills it takes to overcome that inertia and “get moving” once again in both thought and in action, 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 a grief fatigue, of finding it difficult to gather the physical or mental or emotional energy or strength to do things throughout our grief journeys. We can also, unfortunately, be unaware that we are being held back or held in place by some aspect of our grief. 

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 may be simple things like getting up off the couch or getting dressed or on some days, even getting out of bed. Later on in our journeys however, it can manifest in many other, more complex ways, like when we keep putting off getting something fixed around the house, when we don’t want to cook dinner or we don’t want to cook at all. It can hold us in place and not let us move forward. It can manifest not just as a physical lethargy, but also in thoughts like I can’t or I won’t, stopping us from doing or changing physical, mental or emotional things that we might want or need to do.

Throughout our 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, I don’t like this, it doesn’t matter if I don’t, There’s no point in it anymore, I don’t care, and others as well. 

Recognizing and overcoming these thoughts and feelings is possibly one of the most difficult but also one of the most important things we can learn.

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. It also may not be a constant, it can come and go at any time along the way. The one constant seems to be, at least at some level, that our grief tends to want to hold us still or unchanging

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

So, throughout our grief journeys, our minds and sometimes our bodies, keep telling us we can’t do stuff or that we can’t or wont move forward and in our grief and we tend to believe it. Once we can begin to deny that, perhaps by using our intent, we can find ways to do or become pretty much everything we want or need to, once, no matter how we feel, we learn to stop listening to the I can’t and substitute I can and I will. As I said last time, “I can, I am and I will” was one of my most powerful and effective intent statements, and it was directly targeted at inertia. 

The sooner we begin to actively fight the inertia in whatever form it occurs and learn to overcome it, the sooner we will begin to find the energy and the will to again pursue all aspects of our lives, including moving forward. It is a major part of our healing journeys, of building the strength, confidence and the desire 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 and inertia-induced ways of thinking 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 in the Inertia 2 post 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
  • Do you feel like you might be somehow stuck along your journey, like you are on some kind of long plateau, and could it be inertia of some type that you need to work overcome?
  • 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?