What surprises me most about grief is how functional I feel. People have been dying since the first person died, so I keep telling myself, “This is normal. People are meant to move on.” I’ve known a lot of people who have lost loved ones, and they seem so normal, so functional. I wonder why I don’t feel more sad. More angry. I feel like if I have to land on a step of grief, shock is the closest I can name.
But it’s not like the shock of opening the front door, with the children crowding round, when the police knocked that night. Hearing his name, that there had been an accident, that I should rush to hospital as soon as I could. Seeing his bloody face. Meeting the surgeons who said they would TRY to get him through the night. I felt wrapped in a blanket of slow-down. Over and over…I’d feel that shock, a gift in times of trauma. But I think I must have used it up like too much serotonin. The numbness that used to cary me through has lost it’s edge. The game is over, the momentum is gone.
It’s like a drug that doesn’t exactly stop working…but you stop recognizing it. It get’s watered down over time. It helps for a bit, protects you from processing too much reality at once. But then you wonder after time: is this numbness grief? Or is it just that I’ve become hardened with too much of it, like a washed up addict. I need something else to help me now. Something to make me FEEL.
Is this still shock? Is it denial? Or is it a different thing? Is this the new me, and I just need to get used to it?
I need another word for this non-ness, this cushion between my brain and my heart.