The Periods of Numbness That Come With My Grief

There have been seasons along this journey of grief in which I felt nothing. Those moments can be a bit frightening. To some degree, we can become accustomed to the pain we feel. It’s not that we get use to it, it’s simply that it can become so much a part of us that we have forgotten how we felt in the “before.” When a period of numbness envelops us, we tend to fear that something is wrong. Have we stopped caring about our child? Absolutely not.

In my experience, they have usually been times in which I have gone deeper. It’s similar to nightfall for a plant in which it may grow taller as it searches for the light. Roots will often go deeper, as well, at such times. I am internally processing when I go numb. Over time, I’ve adjusted to these seasons and have even learned to embrace them. I know when I finally get to the other side of it, I will be better off having passed through it. It’s another phase in my grieving process. It’s similar to a time of rest for me…rest from the heartache and pain.

According to

The Mayo Clinic explains that two types of emotional responses can occur with PTSD: emotional numbing and emotional arousal, such as becoming easily startled. During the emotional numbness stage, patients may avoid thinking about the traumatic event. PTSD patients may have difficulty maintaining close relationships. Problems with concentration and memory can also occur when PTSD patients become emotionally numb.”

In my experience, being overwhelmed with the excruciating pain that accompanies grieving can also result in a stage of numbing. It can be a natural response to the trauma, allowing me a time to “skate,” somewhat like a built-in survival mechanism. For me, the preoccupation that may exhibit itself in these seasons is that internal processing taking place on a deeper level. If I allow it to take its course and not try to force myself onto another level, I will eventually rise once again to the surface. Of course, when I do, the pain often presents itself anew, at which time I think I have gone backwards. But, I have not. I am still moving forward along my journey of grief. I simply have to ride the wave until it once again brings me into shore.

If you fear you have been stuck in such a stage for too long, a grief counselor may be beneficial. But please do verify that they specialize in grief. A counselor who specializes in grief will have a greater understanding of what is “normal” in this process. They may be more apt to validate what you are experiencing and more able to quench your fears.

Jude’s book, “Gifts from the Ashes,” is available at Direct Textbook.

Follow this journey on Jude’s website.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock image by lolostock

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Grief

Sunset over water

Is This What Grief Looks Like?

In June 2016, I got some news that changed my life. It came from the staff member at the assisted living facility where my dad lived. She was calling to give me an update on dad, since he had been admitted to the hospital the day before. She let me know he was diagnosed with [...]
Close-up of person holding another person's hands in compassionate, comforting gesture

The Difficulty of Answering ‘How Are You?’ for Someone Who Is Grieving

From some, the question is merely going through our culture’s expected greeting convention. From others, there is sincere caring, wanting to express sympathy for our situation, and asking for an update on our healing process. Unfortunately, I am having trouble navigating responding to this social nicety. When asked, “How are you?” I typically do not [...]
Woman standing on beach near the water at sunset

Musings on the Road From the Funeral to the Prom

There’s nothing really to say to the “I’m so sorry for your loss” and then a “Will I see you for photos down at the bay tomorrow for prom?” all within one breath. When my mother died two months ago, I was still in high school about to graduate. Suddenly, I was planning my mother’s [...]
Silhouette of woman sitting on grass at sunset

Facing the Question ‘How Is Your Heart?’ After the Loss of My Husband

It had been two and a half years since my 39-year-old husband died suddenly. In that time, I thought I’d seen and heard it all. I’d heard every “at least” in the book. At least you had children together. At least they were old enough to have memories. At least they were young enough to [...]