35 Symptoms of Perimenopause: Good Grief

by Magnolia on December 11, 2011

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Okay, technically, grief is not usually mentioned as a symptom of perimenopause. But, it should be. Because, believe it or not, good old fashioned mourning and an overwhelming sense of loss (aka, grief) is something that many women experience when they enter perimenopause.

It usually comes out of left field too.  I mean, most of us are expecting hot flashes.  And we’re usually prepared for a few good rounds of night sweats and mood swings too. But, who is prepared for grief?  Yet, grief and the process of grieving, is as much a part of perimenopause as hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings.

We Should be Talking About This

Unfortunately, very little is said about grieving during perimenopause.  Why that is, I do not know.  Maybe we lump it in under the broader heading of mood swings and depression and don’t identify it as grief.

But, we shouldn’t, because grief is not like irritability, weepiness, hormonally induced depression or even those dreaded rages. It is about mourning a loss and coming to terms with a new life on the other side of that loss.

The Life You Once Lived Has Passed

Usually when we speak of grief, it is in the context of death.  We understand that grief is based in loss and death is certainly a loss. But, in many ways, perimenopause is a death too.  No, it is not a physical death, but it is a biological death, and most definitely a loss.

It is the loss of your life as you once knew it.  It is the loss of a personal identity that many of us defined by our fertility and sexuality. Not to mention the roles in our life that grew out of fertility and sexuality, like marriage and family.

So, it only stands to reason that when fertility ceases, menstrual cycles end, sexuality changes, children leave home, and we get older, that a sense of loss is experienced.

And speaking of getting older – grief during perimenopause is often compounded by the fact that many of us fear getting older. Yeah, we all pay lip service to the notion that we are aging and that one day we will die.

But, which one of us is running forward to meet old age and death, much less embracing it?

Unfortunately, life doesn’t give us a choice about aging or dying, and neither does perimenopause.

There is only one ending to this story and that is, life as you once knew it is over – hence, the grief.

Allow the Change to Occur

If you know anything about grief and loss, then you probably know that denial is one of the primary coping mechanisms.

Denial is like psychological blinders and ear plugs.  It cushions you from the full psychological and emotional impact of loss, which enables us to cope. In the appropriate context, a certain amount of denial can be healthy.

But, chronic denial which is rooted in fear can be not only crippling and paralyzing, but it can keep us stuck in place, spinning our wheels and creating a rut which is just short of the grave.

In her book The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing During the Change, Dr. Christiane Northrup addresses the transition and transformation of perimenopause and says that we need to allow ourselves to feel the “pain of loss and grieve for those parts of our lives that we are leaving behind.”

“We should allow ourselves to feel the pain of loss and grieve for those parts of our lives that we are leaving behind.”

The grief process requires that we move through the change.  We don’t avoid it.  We don’t fight against it or push it to the side for a rainy day.

We have to allow ourselves to fully experience the emotions and pain of loss in order to heal and come out whole on the other side.

Otherwise, we may find ourselves stuck in the pain and wounds of emotional baggage that only serves to weigh us down.


For all that is said about the perimenopause, there should be equally as much said about actual menopause. But, unfortunately, we just don’t talk about how great life can be once we transition through perimenopause.

While there is definitely a sadness associated with leaving behind the years that brought us to the pivotal point of menopause, it seems to me, that life no longer punctuated by a period doesn’t sound half bad.

Can I hear an amen?


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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

jane June 7, 2011 at 5:46 am

This is the very worst part of the perimenopausal depression. i grieve and cry from grief at all the things i am losing. Most especially my children leaving home and going to the otherside of the world. Some days are just iunmanageable.


Magnolia June 7, 2011 at 6:43 am

Hello Jane,

Yes, I grieved too. As do many women. It is a time of change and loss. So, it is only natural that we would grieve. My two older children are of the age that they will be moving on in life. One has already moved out, the other one is not far behind. I thought I would be more sad than I am. But, surprisingly, I’m able to accept it.

Letting go is a process. Besides, we were letting go from the first day they were born, remember? I can assure you that in time you will be able to accept and cope with the changes that menopause brings. With it you will also find yourself much more self-assured, less harried and worried about what tomorrow will bring.

Hang in there, sister. It really does get better.



Alexandra June 7, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Hi Magnolia,
A very dear friend recommended your website, and I will be eternally grateful that she did. The last 2 years have been excruciating to say the least. It was due not only from not knowing what I was going through but because I was in such a dysfunctional non-supportive relationship. Up until January of this year I had been under a psychiatrist’s care who had tried over 4 different anti depressants to help with my depression & panic attacks. The side effects were worse than the depression so I discontinued them, and here I am having almost daily panic attacks and being totally shut in my bedroom because of the deep depression. Like so many in this country I am unemployed and have no health insurance. My grief is compounded by realizing I may not be able to have children of my own now that i have reached perimenopause. That is a very hard pill to swallow, but I pray that God will give me the strength to realize kids were not in her/his plan for me in this lifetime. Thank you so much for keeping this website and providing a kind voice to this nightmare.


Magnolia June 8, 2011 at 7:31 am

Hello Alexandra,

Menopause is hell for so many women. But, the great thing is that it really does pass. Just 3 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. I suffered with horribly depression during the worst of my symptoms and they were also compounded by the fact that I had zero marital support. In fact, I had heaps upon heaps of guilt shoved my way for making it “difficult” for my husband to be around me.

Yeah. That helped. That might have something to do with why we are separated….huh? :)

I am completely menopausal now. The depression? Gone. Mood swing? Gone. Anxiety and panic attacks? Gone.

I feel 100% better and “normal”. Speaking of kids…..I have three. After the birth of my first child, I remember distinctly when he was about 9 months old that I was doing some housework and I stopped very quickly and said outloud….”Wow. I feel “normal” again!” Clearly, it was hormones that had sent me off into “weirdville” and that’s what is happening to you now.

I hope you will read my blog and find some resources to help. The depression is probably the worst for most women because it makes you feel like you’re carrying cinder blocks around your ankles. I would highly recommend that you push yourself out of the door everyday and get a brisk half hour walk. In the sunshine. It WILL make you feel better.

I would also suggest that you find some way to break your routine. Monotonous routine can make depression feel like the grave. Talk about a rut. Instead of having your morning coffee or tea in your favorite chair, go out on the porch or patio and take in the morning. The point is, you have SHAKE yourself out of depression.

Walking and aerobic exercise will help with anxiety too. As will deep breathing and visualizing yourself calm and peaceful. I realize when you’re in the middle of a panic attack you can’t exactly do that. But, you must try. To break these cycles you have to push past the “feelings” and become willful. And push is the key word. PUSH yourself through it.

If you continue to do that, you can establish new mental and physical habits which will in turn affect your emotional and mental state.

Trust me. It really works.

Then you have to focus on healthy wholesome, healthy food. You can find some good books with recipes in them on my blog if you’re looking for some ideas.

As far as children, Alexandra, you can adopt. Remember that. And as a mom of three, I can tell you with a certainty, children won’t fix your life. They complicate it. :) So, before you fall into a deeper depression because you do not have children, remember, when you DO get them, you’ll wonder why you ever wanted them. ;)



Annabanana October 9, 2011 at 6:00 pm

I work in a hospital, and while I’ve always had a tender heart, I find myself lately crying and mourning for the hurting people I see a lot more lately, in the past several perimenopausal months :). I also think of my elderly folks and their friends, and feel a grief for the struggles and realities that they face. And, I grieve for my own life, the passing of my youth. I’ve never married nor have any children, and lately I think: will I grow old alone? These are hard emotions for me! Thankfully, I have some good friends on whom I can unburden, and my faith helps, too. Life is very sad right now! But that is a stage, another stage of life. I take great comfort from your encouragement that we’ll pass through this stage, and continue forward!


Magnolia October 10, 2011 at 12:46 am


I too have gotten much more sensitive and tenderhearted toward people as I’ve gotten older. Sometimes I think it has to do with the fact that I’m realizing how brief life really is. We are all going to die one day, but I don’t think we really grasp the reality of it until we start getting older.

Working in a hospital will certainly remind one of death. Plus, with all of the hormone changes that are occurring in your life, it’s having an affect on your point of view.

Life will not always be sad though. It is just a time we have to pass through – this perimenopause – then we can be happy and content again.



Karen January 3, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I had my first appt with a new gynecologist, who said , ” it isn’t't perimenopause.” she is sending me for tests and if they come back normal, then I will see an endocrinologist. I have many symptoms of perimenopause, but because I am only 35 (nearly 36), everyone says it must be something else. This is so frustrating. I am feeling so torn, my gut says this is what I am going through, but how to get someone to listen?


Magnolia January 3, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Hi Karen,

36 is on the younger side of perimenopause, but it is NOT unheard of. Many women begin to notice a change in their cycles, along with symptoms that signal perimenopause, so it’s certainly possible.

If you think in your gut that it is and you do not get someone to listen to you, keep looking for someone who WILL listen to you.

I would love to hear how things turn out for you.



Valarie January 18, 2012 at 10:28 am

I am 46, and have recently started experiencing occasional “sweats”- no flushed face just a wave of sweating/feeling hot. None of the women in my family had natural menopause, so I am at a loss to see what to expect. I read about flashes and night sweats -is that what these are? I had also recently changed meds and thought that might be the cause, but it should have settled by now. I am diabetic-controlled -some issues with feeling hypoglycemic-which is what the sweats sortof feel like-but not the problem in these cases. I also am hypothyroid. my labs are good, but this is happening 5 or 6 times a day. LOL never had a great memory-worse now. -family trait…:) and tired a lot-Vit D def and B12 deficiency- we are working on that. I would appreciate any feedback. no one else to ask-even my Dr is in the same boat. lol Thanks for you thoughts on this.


Patti February 29, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Hi Magnolia,
For the past month I have been having really BAD mood swings with my face feeling flush at times and me waking up really hot during the night. The problem I am having is my sudden depression that sets in. I had my period for the first time 2 weeks ago (its been about a yr prior to that.) The beginning of last month was AWFUL…. I swear if I had a bridge to jump from I would of, and this time I am having thoughts of “I am worth more dead than alive”. I hate those thoughts that pass through my brain because I am such a HAPPY person when I am not having a melt down. I do go and see my GYNO tomorrow… so hopefully she can help me somehow. Thank you for taking time out to listen to all of us women spill our guts to you.

Thanks again,
Patti =)


Magnolia March 3, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Hi Patti,

I hope your appointment went okay with your doctor. I understand those feelings of depression that just seem to come out of nowhere and knock you right off your feet. The good thing is, you know that it is hormones (or least, I do) and I’m able to get through it.

I hate the paralyzing nature of it, but at least I know it will pass if I just hang in there. Sometimes going out and taking a walk is very helpful for me. Just getting sunshine on my face and oxygen to my brain can be very helpful.

That’s crappy that you got a period after a year without one. You were basically about to cross the finish line into menopause and then you get another one? That totally sucks. :)

You are always welcome to come by and dump your misery. What are girlfriends for, even if we are cyber-girlfriends?



Sue stark underwood May 10, 2012 at 4:07 pm

AMEN! I loved this article. It is so true. I don’t feel so idiotic anymore since reading it. I couldn’t understand why I feel so mournful all the time. I never feared growing old but now I do have a fear and I do grieve my youth. I know now what I need to do, let myself feel it! Thank you!!!!!!


Dzeilana June 8, 2012 at 10:47 am

Dear Magnolia,

I have been suffering for about 6 years now ( I am 51). I still have my periods, but , only God know when I will get the next one: in 50 or 15 days? They are erratic.

I have been on Lexapro, sedatives (Xanax and Clonopin), and now in addition, on Abilify. Constant, unbearable fear of illness. I deeply believe this fear comes from the fact that I do not think my husband loves our son enough, or knows how to properly take care of him. So, the thought of me getting ill and dying, throws me into horrible fear, anxiety and panic.

I keep on going to the all kinds of doctors. The moment a certain doctor do not find anything wrong with certain part of my body, I find something else, and I get ABSOLUTELY convinced I have cancer of this or that kind. I am so unbearably tired of being scared. I can not take this any more. Plus, I have marital problems, and my husband can not comprehend how come my libido is zero. Dear God, help.


Magnolia June 15, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Hi Dzeilana,

I’m sorry you are having such a difficult time in your marriage. Perimenopause symptoms will surely make it much, much worse. I know that from personal experience.

Have you seen a physician to help with the perimenopause symptoms? I can’t imagine that Lexapro or Xanex will be helpful for perimenopause symptoms.

Have you considered getting some aerobic exercise? I find that when I am anxious and uptight, that walking for about an hour at high intensity really helps me. I also work in my garden which is good for my moods as well.

And I would definitely recommend that you find a good counselor to talk about your emotions and feelings. Sometimes just having someone listen to us can be so helpful.



Amy June 18, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Hi Magnolia
I just today stumbled across your blog while Google searching “perimenopause”.
I have just turned 38 in the last couple of months and it seems like everything has gone to pot since then. I have gained about 10lbs for no apparent reason, sleeping has been a disaster for the last few years (I was blaming on my 4 year old daughter but am now wondering otherwise), general overall sluggishness and always tired (blaming on the overtiredness), some night sweats and just general complacency with everything. My husband and I had decided to start trying for another baby, so I’ve been really keeping an eye on my cycle (which was completely regular until the end of March) and now seems to be completely out of whack, which also includes that I don’t see to be ovulating (which I may not have been for a while but symptoms had been present before).

So, with all that said, I really don’t know if I am perimenopausal or not, if it’s a possible thyroid issue (had bloodwork done last Friday to see where that all stands). In my heart, I kind of feel it’s the perimenopausal, but for now I sit back and wait. Baby #2 may now not be in the cards for us at all, and I guess I have to be ok with that, which is hard since I was the one who put it off for so long and now I’m feeling guilty about that as well. :(

Thank you for starting this blog…if I am there or not right now, I find it a great source of information, love reading the stories and inspirational comments from other ladies in the same boat.


Magnolia June 21, 2012 at 9:12 am

Hi Amy,

Yes, my first thoughts were when I read your comment is that your symptoms *could* be thyroid related. If you are beginning to have unpredictable cycles, you could also be beginning perimenopause. I was 41 when it started for me.

But, that is no reason that you cannot still have a baby. I conceived my last child at nearly 42 and gave birth to hear at nearly 43. So, you’re still able to have kids, I’m sure!

And don’t feel guilty about your age! I was 34 when I gave birth to my first child, 36 when I gave birth to my second, and nearly 43 with my third. It’s not over yet, so don’t give up.

thanks for stopping by my blog, and I hope you get some definitive answers from your blood work.



Amy June 21, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Hi Magnolia,
Thanks for the comment. I got my bloodwork back. TSH was 3.65 which my GP’s office says is “normal” but I think in the fertility world it is probably on the high side. I am not sure she can provide the further testing etc that I may need her, so next step is the gynecologist with the expecation of seeing an endocrinologist as well at some point. I did’t think to ask the nurse if they had tested FSH (which I think has something to do with testing for menopause, but I could be wrong) so I’ll need to call back to see if they did or not.

In the meantime, hubby and I will jeep “practicing”, hopfully we will g et a surprise like we did last time! :)

Thanks again for your kind words!


colette June 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm

hi there just been reading other womens experience with perimenopause and its good to no im not going crazy! i had been on the mini pill or pop as its known for the last 6 years as i as having heavy periods. my periods stopped while taking the pill. came off it 4 months ago and havent had a period since though have all the symptons mentioned! im 52 so take it im going through the menopause.


SAH July 5, 2012 at 10:30 pm

I relate to Karen with people saying 35/36 years old is ‘too young’ for perimenopause. If I am not mistaken, menopause is a ‘point you get to’ – definable as no longer ovulating/menstruating. I’m 35 and clearly feel perimenopause… Which I understand as the whole long process of reaching menopause. Fertility is peak between 15-30. The averages are: By age 35 you are 1/2 as fertile as age you were at age 30, and by age 40 you are 1/4 as fertile as you were at age 30. So… Isn’t that perimenopause, that whole approximately decade of your life where you ‘lose fertility’?

If you are 35 and go to a fertility MD, they will say you are already ‘less fertile’ at that age, but if you tell your primary care MD that you feel slightly perimenopausal at age 35 you are ‘too young’? I don’t understand the difference, I think they are the same thing. I feel ‘mild’ versions of many perimenopause symptoms (occasional night sweats, emotional) and my periods are now at age 35 becoming ‘irregular’ — they are still coming monthly, but alternating between heavy, scant, or normal flow. During my ‘ovulation’ phase each month, im just not that excited. In other words, I’m 35 and like clockwork I am noticing signs of my reducing fertility.

I feel my hormones shifting! I know in a few more years as these symptoms intensify I’ll eventually reach a sanctioned age (37? 39? 41?) to be acknowledged and classified as being “perimenopausal”. But I still don’t understand how women in their
30s who are taking a hormonally driven fertility nose-dive for a straight decade are considered ‘too young’ to be perimenopausal or feeling hormonal symptoms from it?


Linda July 31, 2012 at 1:05 pm

My last period was 2/12 It has been 5 mths since my last period. I am 55yrs old. I had labs done by my gyno and all #’s low. My question is I just started about a month ago feeling really bloated, sore breast and nipples and I feel pregnant. I haven taken 5 test in the last 3 months and all are neg., does this sound normal?


Magnolia July 31, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Hi Linda,

Yes, it does sound normal. Except the bloating, sore breast and nipples is very likely due to high estrogen levels. I am also 55. In the past year or so, I had a couple of episodes where I felt sore breasts, nipples, and acne. I knew it wasn’t pregnancy, but I did end up getting a period. But, I haven’t had one in over a year now.

In all honesty, pregnancy is highly unlikely because your progesterone levels are too low. Which reminds me, you can use a bioidentical progesterone which will help with the symptoms you are experiencing now.



Gillian July 28, 2013 at 7:13 am

HI Magnolia,

I’m so glad I found this site as I’m experiencing what feels like grief at the moment. I’m 50 years old and definitely perimenopausal; but, even though I can rationalise about the feelings, I’m still surprised at how strong they are and how overwhelmed I sometimes feel. I guess this is all compounded by the fact that I’m a counsellor in a hospice, so I’m surrounded by death and grief in a professional capacity. In some ways, my own grieving allows me to be more empathic to my clients; however, sometimes it’s tricky to work out where the overlap might be and whether what I’m feeling is my client’s pain or my own (or both!) However, it’s still a great comfort to hear other women say that they’ve experienced similar feelings – it feels horrendous but not quite so lonely.

Many thanks, Gillian.


Magnolia July 28, 2013 at 10:09 am

Hello Gillian,

I think you are in a unique position to understand the grief that occurs for many women in perimenopause. It is a loss. It is a life transition. It definitely causes sadness for a lot of women.

So glad you found my blog too. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.



Susan January 19, 2014 at 7:44 am

I’m thrilled to find this blog and know I’m not alone. The dizziness has been happening now for years and the doctors have ruled out everything else but do not attribute it to perimenopause.

I started taking anxiety medication to travel on flights and by a fluke found it alleviated the dizziness episodes.

I’m going to be sure my daughters are aware of this blog and hope that by the time they enter this stage of their lives there will be a much clearer understanding and treatment for this symptom.


Julie January 25, 2014 at 8:55 pm

I’m at the time in my life (early 50s) when I should be with a husband who tells me I’m just as beautiful now as I was when he met me. Instead, I’m divorced and finding myself in the same dating pool with women half my age and sexually viable. Without functioning female parts or cooperating hormones, I feel pretty lacking in value when sexual identity once made me who I was. How do I date when most men any age still want a woman who is still sexual vibrant and I can’t deliver? At first it was my body failing me. Then, it became my mind not feeling sexy beCAUSE my body failed me.


Magnolia January 25, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Those are good questions, Julie……my answer is to simply not date. Perhaps you might take the time to find value in your life that is not defined by your looks and sexuality?



Gail March 7, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Hello Magnolia,
I agree totally about your comment on grief during perimenopause. Grief is one of the strongest negative effects of perimenopause I have been experiencing. I am divorced after 31 years of marriage. My children have grown up and moved on with their lives. I live hundreds of miles away from my siblings. All this combined with perimenopause is making life very difficult. All I want is peace.


Magnolia March 10, 2014 at 10:23 am


It takes time working through the changes of perimenopause. And when you are going it alone (as I was) it can be particularly difficult because you are so isolated.

I have to push myself out of my tendency to hibernate (it’s an easy thing for me to do) and to get out of my comfort zone. Which means, I deliberately seek out the fellowship of others in some capacity.

I am divorced too, and the grief of losing your marriage, especially a long one, can make it all seem unbearable.

Have you sought out grief counseling by any chance? I’ve done that too, and it really, really helps.



Janet March 8, 2014 at 12:19 pm

I’m 56 – in perimenopause but experiencing horrible periods – usually every 2 to 3 weeks. Lots of flooding, clots, sometimes lasting 10 days – I’m on progestin (was on a bioidentical cream but my doc thought I needed more progesterone) but it’s not making any difference. I have acne, some cramping, PMS, etc and I’m TIRED of this. No hot flashes, nothing that makes me think menopause might be near. What more can I do? My doc moved away so I can’t get her help any more – I’m looking for a new doc. This old doc actually thought with 2 months on the progestin I would have my periods cease but no such luck. What can I read? What can I do? (Pap smears and uterine biopsy perfectly normal.) I don’t want that ablation or hysterectomy… there must be another way, but I’m too old for this to go on much longer!


Janet March 10, 2014 at 9:50 am

PS. It’s NOT progestin. My brain isn’t functioning either. I’m on Prometrium, which I was told is a bioidentical hormone. 200mg. This current period is the worst one ever. I’ve been on Prometrium for 8 months.


Wendy Hill March 10, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Hang in there. I am 52 and haven’t had my period for 6 years. I’ve been going through menopause since I was 38 yrs old. I’m also on bio identical hormones and they aren’t balancing me quite yet. But hang in there. I would strongly recommend seeing a ‘naturalpath’, one that’s been around for awhile and knows more than someone just out of school. Get on some natural organic food, don’t eat breads or sugar or caffeine. We all need to watch what we eat.

Big hugs.


Magnolia March 10, 2014 at 10:20 am


It is possible for you to up your Prometrium dose safely. From what I’ve read, women can take up to 300 mgs safely. When I was having my heavy periods with blood clots, I took a very high dose of bioidentical progesterone.

It really helped and eased the periods and the clots. Then I was able to transition into menopause with relative ease. I would definitely find another doctor who is open to you increasing your dosage and trying that.

Yes, Prometrium is bioidentical and it is not a progestin.



Wendy Hill March 10, 2014 at 3:55 pm

I go to a really good doctor who only works with bio identical hormones and testosterone for men. I can recommend his name to you if you’d like. He’s in Oshawa and NOT expensive. He isn’t a natural path but is a Physician who ONLY specializes in hormone treatment for men and woman. He comes highly recommended and people come from all over to see him.

Just saying if you’d like :)


faith March 20, 2014 at 11:07 pm

I am happy to find this site,I am 47 n started peri at 45,it has been a ride for me,I have become very fearful,I used to get hot flashes and lot of increased heart. Race,had to b test for heart conditions,thyroid plus others n all was ok,I developed a bad case of acid reflux,I became very fearful I no longer go out alone bec I feel unbalanced,like I am falling down ,my headaches has increased,I developed carpel tunnel syndrome,my joints ache like crazy ,I worry a lot about everything,always thinking I have some deadly deseas,my comfort is from my prayer life n my kids,just a few week I was diagnosed with Vertigo n my sinus drives me crazy,my doc say s peri is unkind to me


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