How to Manage Numbness After a Loss

It’s normal to feel numb after a loss. Numbness is a complicated experience that can sometimes be difficult to articulate. It often coincides with a sense of detachment and disconnection.

You may feel empty inside, and it can seem like you’re going through the motions without actually experiencing any of your real emotions. Physically, numbness sometimes refers to a reduction or loss of sensation. You may feel like you’ve dissociated from your own body or that your limbs feel lighter or heavier than usual.

It’s important to remember that numbness is a protective measure. Your mind is trying to look after you in response to grief and loss. And while numbness can provide some immediate respite, it is generally not a sustainable state. With that, acknowledging and managing numbness is often an essential part of the grief process.

Don’t Judge Your Numbness

Although it may seem paradoxical, it’s important to try to accept feeling numb after a death or significant loss. Numbness is often a part of the initial shock that comes with grief. This sensation does not mean you aren’t grieving effectively or properly.

Numbness is a way for your mind and body to temporarily manage overwhelming feelings. It can also allow you to function during especially heightened moments.

Subsequently, the way you experience grief is highly personal, and there is no “right” way to engage in the grieving process. People react to loss in all sorts of ways, and emotional numbness is just one of those responses.

Remember That Most Numbness Is Temporary

Grief moves through unique stages and your feelings will change in vary in intensity over the next few months. There is no roadmap, but most numbness lifts in its own time- even if you don’t consciously try to change how you react or think about a situation.

It can be helpful to simply honor accepting your own feelings with what they are. Even when you experience emotional numbness, you might also note themes of guilt, sadness, anger, or relief. It is normal to have these competing emotions emerge simultaneously.

Seek Grief Support

Grief can feel like such a lonely process, but it is a universal experience that everyone endures. Nobody will ever replace the person who died, but other people can help you during this precarious time.

Try to prioritize seeking support right now. Talk to people who can validate your emotions and give you the space to not be strong. If you struggle to connect with people in your personal life, consider joining a grief support group or working with a grief therapist.

Consider the Stories You Tell Yourself About Death or Grief

Every culture and family has their own messages about the grief process. Whether you realize it or not, you have likely internalized some of these stories without truly recognizing their impact.

For example, you might assume that, because you’re the oldest sibling, you need to be emotionally available for your family members. Or, you might think that people who cry or show true emotions are weaker than those who can “keep it together” amid difficult times.

Remember that no story is “wrong” or inherently bad. We’re all products of our societies, values, and upbringings. But it may be worth digging into your story and identifying how it might be shaping a state of suffering or confusion. Most people hold themselves to unrealistic standards about grief, and they often feel embarrassed when they feel guilty or feel angry about the loss.

Try to Avoid Further Numbing

Compulsive behavior, including substance abuse, shopping, overeating, compulsive exercise, and working excessively, may feel like a welcome distraction during the initial stages of grief. You may very well want to focus on your day-to-day living without feeling bogged down by your emotions.

But it’s important to try to be present with yourself and your feelings. While it’s reasonable to “escape” every now and then, the more you try to numb how you feel, the more you actually prolong your own emotional needs. Chronic numbness often perpetuates complicated grief, and it can also lead to other problems throughout bereavement and beyond.

Keep Practicing Self-Care

Along with trying to avoid ongoing numbing, it’s important to try to look after yourself during this difficult time. The early stages of grief sometimes feel so emotionally debilitating that it can be grounded into any semblance of a routine.

Self-care doesn’t necessarily fix those common feelings of anger, sadness, or confusion, but it offers glimmers of kindness and hope. Looking after your well-being is one of the best gifts you can give yourself, and it actually allows you to feel your grief more authentically.

Therapy for Grief, Loss, and Emotional Numbness in Texas

Numbness often sets in during the first few days of a significant loss. Sometimes this numbness persists for several weeks or months. Your emotions will unravel at their own pace. While there’s nothing wrong with how you feel, you may be struggling to make sense of your needs. You might also worry that the lack of feeling speaks to other complex feelings or unresolved grief.

Regardless of your specific situation, grief therapy can offer a safe environment for emotional processing and healing. Many people find that it’s invaluable to talk about their loss without judgment or taking care of someone else’s needs. I specialize in treating all kinds of grief and loss, and I am here to support you during this time.

I welcome you to contact me today to schedule a consultation.

4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 988-3363

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