Ageing, Memorization, (flush) Gone

I’m back from a three week break. I’ve lost 4 family members and two good friends since April of this year. And with each death I relive my only child’s death years ago.
You’d think you’d get over it with time. You don’t. You learn to live with numbness.

So back to picking up the guitar today after a three week break. Starting with fretboard memorization. I’ve been working on this for literally months. I’ve completely memorized sections of the fretboard only to come back the next day (or a few hours later) and it’s like everything is a blank again. Hell, from one hour to the next I don’t know if I’ll be able to remember even on open string without having to think about it.

Then on to Practical Music Theory. All those triads and inversions I had memorized? Gone. I fret a chord and stare at it trying to remember notes. Blank. Looking at the worksheets I’ve successfully completed? “How did I manage that?”

On to playing. My hands feel like they are wrapped in bandages. Can’t fret worth a hill of beans.

I’m numb. I’m getting the feeling that this all is a losing proposition. Memory is shot. Dexterity is shot. Take one step forward and three steps back.

What a mess…


Daniel I have no idea how you are functioning at all, that must take extreme strength just to carry on with daily life.

Dont be too hard on yourself, we dont have to do all the things right away, and its understandable you’ll take some steps back on learning when you are in such a terrible and stressful time.

Just sit back and play some easy stuff that feeds your soul and worry about the learning later.


Welcome back Daniel. You are among friends here mate. The recent loss of family and friends is a heavy emotional load, and as you mention, a trigger for other painful memories. Please take care of yourself. We lost our daughter, Holly, 24 years ago, and it changes you forever. But we all carry on.

You’ve done alot with the guitar knowledge in recent times. Its alot to take in, and will just require time on the guitar to gain some momentum back. Just ease back into, and take the pressure off.

All the best.
Cheers, Shane


Hi Daniel - I can’t even begin to imagine what you’ve been going through, but as Rob and Shane have said don’t beat yourself up with guitar practice too - keep it light and easy, and don’t push yourself too hard until you feel up to it.


Hi Daniel,
Everything you describe above fits in well with normal grief reaction:
feeling despondent, numbness, lack of ability, going backwards…
They have a lot in common with symptoms of depression.
You probably know yourself that while time will not cure, it will help to heal. Be kind to, and patient with yourself and share how you feel with those close to you.
There is therapeutic value in going through guitar practice, even if it doesn’t feel productive (as long as you don’t see it as a burden)
Wishing you well :smiley:



I cannot add to the wise words and advice already given. So all I can do is to send condolences and welcome you back. And don’t worry about the current situation on respect of the guitar stuff, it will come back. Like most things in life, it just needs time. Take care.



Damn, I’m so sorry that you’re caught within such a feeling of numbness. It’s totally understandable for your mind to be distracted and not draw in things that may of been familiar. It’s not to say that familiarity will not return.

With grief, as I’m sure you’ll already know, there is no right and wrong way to approach it. Just do what helps you personally - if that means playing guitar, pick it up. If it means putting your attention elsewhere - that’s good too. There is no must or should.

One of the most helpful things a friend said to me was to remember that grief is a tunnel not a cave. There is a path through even if it’s hard to see it at the moment.

It’s great that you reached out on here. There’s a lot of people with warmth to share with you. [hugs]


Daniel, my condolences for your losses. It must be a very difficult time for you.

You learned a lot of knowledge when you were enthusiastic to learn it. Has it all gone?
I don’t think so.
As others are saying, ease your way back into guitar. Play what is simple and easy for you. Right now it doesn’t matter what the notes of chords are, just play your way back in.

The knowledge will come back as your enthusiasm once again grows.

All the best with it. :guitar:


Hi Daniel
sending you condolences and hugs
I can only imagine the feeling of grief and numbness you must be experiencing.
It must be really difficult just functioning and seems understandable to not remember things at this time. Don’t give up and please be kind to yourself :lotus:

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So sorry for your loss, that must be very hard. I imagine it is almost impossible to concentrate on any thing right now. That sounds a pretty normal response to a significant loss and grief.

If there is any solace for you in playing guitar, may it bring you some peace, if even for a series of moments.

Do make sure to seek support where you can. Even with a distant community like this, know we care and are thinking of you.


Hey!! :slight_smile:

A couple of things. . . first, I am sorry that you are having to deal with so much death. . .literally the worst part about getting older is confronting the loss and the absence of so many whom we love and care for. It is, however, part of the deal. . .sad to say , but true. OF course that’s no comfort and if there were something I could say to make it easier for you I would, but there isn’t.
So, all I can do is tell you, you are not alone and that many of us are confronting the loss of loved ones. . . getting knocked down sucks but it’s ALWAYS ABOUT HOW YOU GET UP. . . .I can’t say any more on this topic an the moment cuz I get all wound up emotionally. . .so. . .

The guitar stuff. . .I have been following your progress from a greater distance on the forum than probably you deserve but I, too, have family obligations and things happening that pull me away from the guitar more than I would like. . .so. . .I will just say that you are sooooo on the right track with your practice. . .if you’re bored with what your doing or need a break chaek out Justin’s Rut Buster MODULE!! A WHOLE SERIES of ideas to get you going again in a parallel direction to what you’ve been looking at… . .here. . . Rut Buster Module. . .

I understand the getting discouraged thing, believe me. I’ve been picking at the guitar for nearly 30 years and have spent most of that time not playing because of insane work obligations, getting fed up or family committments, however, I am still plucking away. . cuz I love it. I’ll keep at it until I physically am unable to continue. . . .there are solutions to each of the thigns you mentioned. . . may noy be easy ones, but they’ll be there if you look for 'em.

All that said, it’s really ABOUT HAVING FUN. if it ain’t fun TAKE A BREAK. The guitar(s) will be there and you won’t lose the skills you’ve got completely, it comes back fast!! (trust me, I know)

Anyway, I hope you keep going cuz you’re doing all the things you need to become a good guitar player. . .this stuff does take years to learn. . .like it or not. . .

Jus want to send you a big shot of encouragement from Southeastern Spain!! Hope you stay at it!!!



Feeling for you with what you must be going through, things will get better with time from my experience. Do something that is easy for you with your guitar, try and get some enjoyment from it and things will come back.

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Daniel, so sorry for your losses. Grief is ghastly as sadly you already know.

Get through this however you can. I first picked up the guitar in 2021 to give me a respite from grief. I had no ability to read or watch TV but I stuck with guitar even if for no more than a couple of minutes every day and it’s helped give me a way forward in the world. I hope it can help you too.


Daniel, my deep sympathy for what you are experiencing at present.
My way through such feeling are to pick up the guitar and simply make a gentle noise without thought, almost a meditation. It does not matter what you play just play and let the music sooth.
hope that helps in some way.

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