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Is It Normal Not To Sleep After A Death


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Hi All,

Here I am again with a question, The question is : Is it normal to not be able to sleep after a death... I have been having big trouble with sleeping ever since I moved and after the deaths of my parents... I just fall asleep but can not stay asleep and roll around in bed most of the night... when I wake up in the morning I am so very tired and have a hard time making it through the day... Can anyone help with some suggestions on sleeping... Thanks Shelley

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I can only relate my experience (so far). After my Scott died, I stayed up late with friends and family (so supportive - I have been lucky), talking and crying until I was so exhausted that I could do nothing but sleep. But when I flew to my mother-in-law's and stayed with her up to and for about a week and a half after the funeral, I really am not sure if I slept at all some nights. I finally started to fall asleep in the tv room to the drone of the tv, but when I would reawaken at about 2am and went to bed, I would cry or think....thinking was the worst. All the second guessing, what ifs, woulda shoulda coulda... And then our baby daughter would get me up fairly early in the morning. But interestingly, during the day, I didn't feel that tired - maybe some kind of shock mode? Tired or not, I still had trouble functioning during the day. Anyhow, when I got back home, I could not go back to our bedroom to sleep, partly because I had put my husband's bags in there and couldn't unpack them. And of course, because it was our room. So I would again fall asleep in front of the tv and then move to the couch in our daughter's room. I found comfort in being close to her crib. And then one night, I slept. It just happened. I am not sure why, but it did.

Finally, a couple of weeks after returning home, my brother came to visit for a few days, so I used that to be the impetus to go back to our room. (Plus, I had a friend come over one night to help me unpack his bags. Note I am nowhere near ready to "go through" his things - I have just shut the closet doors and put some things, as I have come across them, into my Heartbreak Drawer.) And now, I have essentially gotten into a routine where, before I go to bed, I come to this grief forum. Then I write a letter to Scott, sometimes short, sometimes longer. I usually cry then. And then I read a bit of "Healing Through Loss - Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief", written by Martha Whitmore Hickman, who lost her daughter. By then, I am usually able to sleep, though I often fall asleep after crying some more. I think that talking to him through my letters and tears is comforting, and is my way of completing the day.

So I guess I have found that not sleeping was part of my early process (tomorrow will be the 8 week mark of Scott's passing). But it seems that in finding a routine, I am, for the moment, able to cope. (And for me, talking to friends and family, plus this forum, have been of incalcuable benefit. I am also starting with a counsellor, so I will see how that goes.) I have no idea how long this is going to work, but I guess that is a bridge I will cross when I come to it. But I am not restraining myself in asking for help, or trying to keep a stiff upper lip. I refuse to feel ashamed to ask for help (though I have a pretty good idea who I can ask and who I cannot).

I hope I haven't rambled too much....and that you will find something that works for you.

Take care,


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Hi Starkiss

I have had a lot of trouble sleeping since I lost Cliff. But I also have spells of sleeping too much, and can sleep till really late at the weekends.

I think it goes with the territory!

Why oh why is it that the grieving, who are beyond tired, are deprived of sleep?

I tried sleeping tablets and they didn't suit me, so now if I can't sleep, I have a diazepam (only 2 mg) that I used to use for flying and that settles me enough so that I can fall asleep.

If your lack of sleep is affecting your ability to work, I'd urge you to speak to your doctor as he may be able to help you.

It's Friday, so at least you'll be able to have a couple of cat-naps over the weekend :-)

take care


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Hi All,

Thank you All,

Thanks to everyone who has responsed to my post, I have had such problems when dealing with sleeping... I manage to sleep for four hours and the rest of the night it is tossing and turning till it is time to wake up for the day... I did have sleeping pills for the first year and now that it has been five years the doctor seems to think I should not need them anymore she told me that I am what they call a very nervous sleeper... So now what can I do next, I have received lots of helpful hints and I am going to try them all... Shelley

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Shelley, I think if you look through a lot of the posts, especially early ones a lot of us have trouble sleeping. I sleep better but still don't rest when I sleep most of the time. I had to set the timer on the TV at first and there are still a lot of nights I have to do that. I do better when someone is in the house with me. I still sleep sideways in the bed too. I have to have part of me on his side of the bed. Probably 97% of his clothes are just like he left them.

Hope this helps you feel more "normal"

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