Part 1 of 4: Emotional Numbness During Grief
Updated: Dec 22, 2018
Welcome to the first video in the 4-part video series on emotional numbness during grief.
So let me start by just diving right into an explanation of emotional numbness during grief.
When we experience a trauma, like a loss, we get thrown into grief, which is the emotional expression of the loss.
Many times, either right off the bat or somewhere down the road, we begin to feel emotionally numb. And that could be for many reasons.
To my mind, the trauma of the loss is such a painful experience for people that our defense mechanisms go up, and we begin unconsciously numbing out, because the pain is so intense.
Those feelings of numbness are working to protect us, because we don't really want to go around feeling this super-intense pain day after day.
At the beginning of our grief experience, we might feel extremely sad, extremely angry or both, Then over time, we begin not feeling and not really having any emotional reactions to anything.
This feeling of numbness is super common!
I like to normalize the grief experience because people don't really talk about loss or grief and they don't realize that many other grievers are feeling the same or similar things. Grief is not something that we chit-chat about waiting on line at the bank, or when we're having lunch with our coworkers. We don't really talk about it, because it's painful and profound.
When we become emotionally numb a lot of times, people get very alarmed, and they're like:
"What's wrong with me? Why am I not feeling anything? I feel so guilty that I'm not crying all the time because I really do miss my loved one!"
Emotional numbness is also a form of internal processing. It’s unintentionally going inward, to process the emotions. The numbness is giving us a break from all of this emotional flooding, and all of this pain that we've experienced with the loss. .
Emotional numbness is a defense mechanism that comes down over us, like a garage door, so we can protect ourselves and not feel that pain.
When the emotions bubble up and the garage door opens, our emotional experience may become really intense. During the course of grief, when those intense feelings come back, we think that we're not grieving well, and that we're having a set back. But that’s false because we need to feel the feelings in order to heal.
"You don't get over grief, and you don't get around grief, but you get through it."
You move through grief by FEELING. The feelings will come..
In next weeks blog I will talk all about what to do when the numbness lifts emotions start flooding in.
<<ENJOY THE VIDEO>>
Love to you!
Janeen Mary Chasan LCAT ATR-BC
Licensed, Registered and Board Certified Creative Arts Therapist
Filmmaker, Podcaster and Online Educator