Feeling Nothing During Grief: The disorienting experience of emotional numbness

There are so many things one can feel in this life – anger, joy, jealousy, love, shame, happiness, embarrassment, amusement, sadness, euphoria, frustration.  The roller coaster of emotion whips over high peaks, spins, and dips over and over and over – it’s thrilling and it’s scary and it’s one hell of a ride.

Except, I want you to imagine that one day you get on the roller coaster and as it climbs, falls, twists and turns you realize that you feel nothing.  You are sitting in a tiny cart being whipped around like a wet noodle, wondering why everyone else is laughing, screaming, and throwing their hands in the air.

Feeling nothing may be described as anhedonia, which is one of the main symptoms of major depressive disorder, but someone might also experience this sort of reaction in response to things like anxiety or trauma. In grief, it is common to experience such emotional numbing, especially in the days to weeks following the death.  Under any circumstance, it feels awful to feel nothing.

Anhedonia is often described as the loss of interest in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities such as friends, family, hobbies, work, food, sex, and laughter; although some might say this depiction pales in comparison to the actual experience.   The trouble is, it’s difficult to explain feelings of nothingness to people who feel a general something-ness.

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Well, sometimes I feel like I’m melting.

puddle

 

And sometimes I feel like I’m disappearing.

dissapear

Unfortunately feelings of melting and disappearing can also be difficult for people to relate to.

Feeling nothing is not akin to feeling ‘okay,’ underwhelmed, or unenthused.  Feeling nothing is more like feeling empty, dead inside, emotionless, as though you have nothing to contribute, or as though you can’t relate to the feelings and emotions of others (thus rendering social interaction problematic).

It’s hard to understand how the absence of feeling could actually equal extreme pain and distress, but it does.  When you feel nothing, the world seems to make less sense.  You look in the mirror and barely recognize yourself, without emotions you feel alien and it’s hard to imagine being a person ever again.

The emotional numbness sometimes experienced in grief can feel especially disturbing because after a death you expect to feel so much.  You might wonder, “What is wrong with me?!?!  Why don’t I feel anything?!? Maybe I’m not a human being at all.  Oh no, what if I’m a sociopath?!?  Or a robot?!?”  Feeling nothing during grief is alienating and isolating because everyone else seems pretty in touch with their feelings.  You know you’re sad about the death, but you can’t actually access the emotions and so you feel different than others grieving the death.

Friends and family show up in support and say things like, “I can only imagine everything you must be feeling right now” and send you cards that say, “tears are a reflection of love”, and you feel guilty because you’re not crying.  Worse, you worry others will think you’re apathetic and question your love for the person who has died.

 

feelings

Feeling nothing when you’re supposed to feel intense sadness is really disorienting.  You need to feel feelings again STAT, so you try to coax your emotions out by doing things like picking fights.

fight

 

Or by engaging in reckless behavior in hopes of feeling something….anything.  Picking fights and reckless behavior sometimes work, but they also come with undesired consequences.

wine

 

The good news is, in the absence of disorders like depression, bipolar, or anxiety, sooner or later your feelings should return. But be forewarned, sometimes feelings return with a vegence.

Untitled

Overall, I want to reassure you that you’re most likely capable of experiencing feelings.  I also want you to know that it’s normal to feel numb for a little while grieving; this does not reflect anything negative about you as a person or your love for the person who has died.  If you’ve been feeling this way for longer than you’re comfortable with, or if it is having a profound and negative impact on your ability to cope with your losses and engage in daily life, then you might want to talk to a licensed mental health professional.

If you have been experiencing anhedonia i.e. feeling nothing for a long time (weeks or months) under any circumstances, we recommend talking to a licensed counselor.  A counselor might be able to help you understand what your going through, identify broader disorders, and support you in finding your way out of the abyss.

Please excuse my egregious use of stick figures lately, I find them to be a suitable substitute when words fail.  Also, subscribe to receive posts straight to your email inbox and head over to our shop and check out our print grief resources.

April 12, 2017

95 responses on "Feeling Nothing During Grief: The disorienting experience of emotional numbness"

  1. Anthony A BrzezinskiJuly 13, 2017 at 7:03 pmReply

    I’m not sure how to explain it but for as long as I can remember I’ve never reacted emotionally to death whether it’s friends or family members the only person I can remember actually feeling sad for and crying was when I was 8 and my best friend and basically only friend at the time who was about to turn 5 died on his birthday ever since then I don’t feel sad it jist feels like another day and it never bothered me till my friend died recently he was the second friend I ever had right after my friend died and we grew up on the street but when he died I didn’t feel anything and now it’s starting to bother me he and I may not have been close since middle school but ik if either of us needed the other we’d be there and I did care about him alot but at the funeral all I could see was every friend I’ve had since elementary school that still lived in the state crying and breaking down but all I could think of was what’s wrong with me they are all gonna think I don’t even care about him that I shouldn’t even be there I made my face look sad so I wouldn’t stick out but I knew it wasn’t real and now idk I just want to feel agian just this once to express the deep sadness ik is there, I can’t even bring myself to visit his family because I don’t want them to think I’m a horrible person even tho I’m sure they know I’m sad about it since I basically grew up at their house I was over there so often.

  2. My grandad died yesterday. I was there when they unplugged all the machines keeping him alive, watched him go. And I cried so much while I was there, but then once we’d left the hospital, all my emotions just left. It’s like I’ve forgotten he’s even dead. Today, I went to school just like normal and I found myself laughing with my friends and joining in conversations. And I know he is dead, it isn’t denial. It’s just a huge lack of sadness and I really badly want to feel sad, want to feel something negative and let it out. But I can’t. I just don’t feel anything about his death, it’s like I’m subconsciously ignoring it. I don’t know.

  3. Hi,
    Just lost my father. We were like two peas in a pod. I loved him dearly and he loved me back so much. I learnt to love unconditionally because of him. We spoke to each other every day without fail when I moved out my country. My mom told me he cried like a baby every single day for the whole year. He had a gregarious personality, optimistic, hardworking a a very generous man. Everyone who came across him loved na d respected him very much. When he passed away I could not go in time to see his face one last time. I feel disgusted at myself. I have started to attract a lot of negative energy as I am sad and not able to recoup from my loss. I have developed physical pain and generally life is making me question my existence. I want to really die but, I don’t want to run away from shouldering my responsibilities. Suddenly, I feel at loss of everything that I would call life. I am a living shell of a person. I just want my life to end. People I notice are generally mean to me these days, including friends and family. I have no power over my life.

  4. I lost my mother on 30 Nov 2014. She was and still is my best friend. I never spent a single day without talking to her. Until I lived with my parents, I did everything with her and went everywhere only with her, we had exactly the same taste in everything, liked the same music, make up , clothes, food, art etc. I also look just like her, laugh like her and think like her. more like my soulmates than a parent to me. then I moved out of the country to study abroad, then we skyped and called at least twice everyday…mornings and nights I was more than willing to explain her everything from my daily life… she was always there for me, patiently listening and motivating me, full of positive energy….I always thought if i lose her one day I will definitely die…. then she suddenly got sick and out of a sudden died after a couple of weeks. I was so far away and did not manage to go back to see her in the hospital! now after 2,5 years I still cry rememberig that I was not there for her when she was sick, even though she was always there for me no matter what. but when she passed away I did not cry for some weeks….even now most of the time I do not feel loss…. I dont know whats wrong with me. on the other hand, ever since I dont care about anyone else either, my father had a bad accident shortly after my mom passed away and he was in coma for 2 months. even up to now he has lots of issues walking and other health issues related to the accident but it does not make me nervous. I wish I cared more for them like I used to.

  5. I lost my boyfriend, the love of my life on 4/8/2017. I miss him so much. We had so many plans for the future. He was the light and joy of my life. Every night I cry and replaying the night he died and think I should have been watching him more, I shouldn’t have been in my room. I shouldn’t have been doing my homework for school.. I don’t deserve to be here if he is not here. He was my world. Life also took away my ability to have kids. So he was all that I had. I only went back to college for him. I can’t spend the rest of my life without him. He promised that we would be together forever. He was my perfect guy. I feel like I am suffocating. A part of me died the day he died and what I have left is slowly dying. I wish I could just leave this Earth, but the only thing that makes me stick around is because I don’t want my family and friends to go through grief yet I am miserable because I am alive. There is no joy in life anymore and I just want to join him. I am so tired and I don’t want to be here anymore. I went from Paradise to Hell. I keep begging life to take mine, yet I am still here.

    • Girl, my boyfriend passed 3 years ago and I’m still dealing with everything you’re going through. They come in waves, anything can trigger a memory which leads me to go through the coping stages all over again. I’m not sure if you will ever be completely ‘done’ grienving, I’ve just been processing emotions as they come and go. Hardest part for me has been accepting that I will not get to experience the milestones and future memories with him; feeling as though I won’t be able to fully love my future partner for who they are because they are not fully who I wanted to experience those beautiful/stressful/day to day life with. Although our situations are as similar as they are different if you need to pick someone’s mind shoot me a message and we can exchange email/whatever. I went through this emotionally alone because no one knows what you’re going through unless they’ve also been through the weeds, but I can’t explain how many times I just wanted someone to talk to that at least could understand the emotions or lack of without having to explain too much. I’m not a hugger at all but girl, I’m sending you one along with positive vibes and energy to get through your days; my heart aches for yours and I hope you reach out if you need to. From Texas with love and sunshine

    • Dear Gina,
      I was touched by your letter about losing your boyfriend. I wish you all the best and hope that someday, somehow, you will get better.

      Signed, a gentle reader

  6. My mom had been ill for so many years before she died in January. She had COPD and asthma, was bipolar and had dementia. Due to a complete lack of self care, her body had literally stopped functioning properly, i.e. she discontinued all dental self care and just let her teeth fall out, one by one. The dark hole of severe depression, resentment, and despair never lost it’s grip on her. My older sister looked after her for the last 20 years. My sister could often be very haphazard with my mom’s care, but I truly think she did the best that our mother would allow. I pitched in here and there over the years, but my sister would never fully relinquish our mother’s care for any length of time (that’s a whole different issue). As time wore on, I simply became afraid to see my mother, as well as frightened and frankly lazy. I rarely made the 4 hour trip to her home for visits. I wrote often and called occasionally. I sent carefully chosen, quality, and loving gifts for birthdays and holidays. I was there the moment she died, holding her hand and touching her face, and telling her how good she was doing, that it was almost over. I felt so relieved-her death was an awful thing to witness. She suffocated, basically, from years of smoking. A few weeks after that, my mother in law, who has stage 5 Alzheimer’s, came to stay with us for a month or so. She was thrown out of her home by her registered domestic partner, who could no longer handle her. She went from a 5 bedroom custom home, to our tiny back bedroom, and then to a room at an assisted living facility. I cared for her 10-12 hours a day while she was here in my home, and I am 100% sure I did a good job caring for her. I never ONCE lost my temper, got impatient or mean, or skimped on her care.

    I am almost totally numb. I don’t really feel anything but a sort of surface sadness, and it quickly passes. I am nearly incoherently depressed, and rapidly gaining weight. I am sober, and don’t use street or prescription drugs. I don’t smoke pot. I am taking Wellbutrin for PTSD. I can’t easily handle the simplest task-my brain is frozen with anxiety, disinterest, and helpless rage. I can’t make decisions, and I don’t feel happiness or interest. My husband and I have not had sex in months.

    I hear over and over that the grief will do “something” at “some point”. Super. Right now, I’m with my dying mom, over and over-her last shuddering breaths, the foaming spittle, the desiccated body, the sickening smell of old tobacco smoke permeating ever square inch of her home. I try to remember that my mom was a nurse for 30 years, and saved countless lives through her diligent attention and care. She was a military veteran. She raised 3 children, and had several marriages. She put up Christmas trees, and wrapped presents. She came to my own graduation from boot camp. She sent money and cards and love. She generously and willingly saved me from so much pain over the years.

    She loved me.

    I am just numb.

  7. I would like some answers on this.
    I’m a girl, 18. I’ve lived with my grandma my whole life, except for the last two years because I moved to another city for college, but every two weeks or so I go to visit my family (in my house also live my mom, uncle and aunt with her family). I’m not really independant, so it’s not like I’m living life on my own, I depend a lot on my family, economically and emotionally. My grandma past away on Saturday. She’d been hospitalized a week ago for stomach bleeding and was recovering at home, she had a stroke. At first, when I was told what happened (I just arrived home) I felt anger and screamed, throwing away my cellphone that was in my hand, then I went to see her in her bed and cried. But then, until now, I haven’t cried that much, only when she was buried. I feel I have the need to do it but I can’t, sometimes I remember moments we shared and I start to cry but then I stop and I want to continue and I feel like I’m forcing myself. But I don’t feel okay, I feel “weird”, like it is a dream, I start thinking and I’m like what? Did it really happen? sometimes I feel anger again, and I want to hurt myself. But mostly is this weird feeling that something is wrong. I loved her of course and she practically raised me because my mom was always working, but I can’t understand why I dont burst into tears every time I think about it, I’m afraid I don’t know how to love or something. I’m not very affectionate either, I can’t say I love you to my mom or family or show all time that I care about them, I do a lot, or at least I think so.

  8. My friend’s mother just passed, and when I told my own mother, shock was the only thing visible on her face and.. I just found it so hard not to laugh, is that normal…?

  9. My friend’s mother just passed, and when I told my own mother, shock was the only thing visible on her face and.. I just found it so hard not to laugh, is that normal…?

  10. My best friend just recently passed away. At first, I felt angry and then I felt guilty because there was nothing I could do and still wish I could have done more. Now, my life just feels totally empty. I feel lost, confused, shock etc. Before my best friend pass, I was already dealing with the deaths of two family members that I love very much. Then death came even close. I am trying so hard to come to terms with this but honestly, it feels like heart failure or a stroke might get me first at this rate and the pain my heart seems to be feeling.

  11. My mum died April 21st,2016.We only found out that her breast cancer had metastasized a week before she passed, after a previous battle nine years earlier.She was sick for 8 months with what her doctor thought was a ” stomach infection” and then a return of crohns disease she had many years before.How can a doctor miss cancer to the point of the person only having days left to live.HOW?.My mum was my best and only real friend,She was the most amazing, selfless, and compassionate person I’ve ever known.She didn’t have to suffer in the end the way she did if her doctor had actually done her job.We had no time!! None!.I work and look after my kids, people think I’m ok but I’m not.Half of me died with my mum.I will never truly be ok again.Some days, I wish I would just die to as I’m going to be buried with her when I’m gone.Then I look at my kids and I feel guilty for it.I miss her so much!.

  12. Jessica Ann DoerflerDecember 6, 2016 at 10:06 amReply

    When my grandma Evans died I was crying because she meant a lot to me.

  13. Hi, I’m from Nottingham, England and this year has been a terrible year for me and my family. My Mum passed away 11th May 2016 after a 2 year battle with cancer. It was a long 2 years and it wasn’t made easier as I work and live in London so it wasn’t like I could just pop round if she needed me. She had a few sisters around regularly to help her and my Dad out but it was so surreal to see her fading away like that. I was there the day the doctor informed her that it was untreatable. It didn’t sink in for her until we were back in the waiting room and she asked me,’Is it terminal?!’. I said yes and burst out crying and holding on to her. She died less than 3 months after this and I was distraught as I missed saying my final goodbye to her as my train home was delayed and she passed away 45 mins before I arrived home. All I could do was hold her and cry! Me and the family did all the necessary things to prepare for her funeral except for my dad who was finding it very hard to take. I did the best I could for her eulogy to let everyone one the life of my mum. I seemed to be coping quite well considering and most of the time I realised that I was doing ok, because somehow I was able to not think about her. When I became aware of this I thought that something was wrong with me. That maybe I didn’t love her (which I most definitely did). I was worried that she’d be looking down on me and be disappointed.
    Then the attention turned to my Dad. He was getting worse and worse and became a shell of the man he was. He jumped of a bridge into the river about 4 weeks after Mum died, but was fortunately rescued by a passer-by and a policeman. He was having counselling at home regularly but refused to be admitted to hospital. He tried again to hurt himself by drinking anti-freeze and was hospitalised again. He managed to persuade the professionals (and his family) that he was on the mend. Then in September (4 months after my mum passed) he hanged himself!! Deja-vu struck as yet I was writing another eulogy and preparing for the death of my only other parent.
    No goodbye’s, no letters, no further indicators that could help us prevent him for killing himself.
    Again I seem to be able to not think of him – or them. Maybe it’s because I don’t get the opportunity to as my siblings are all living apart. I don’t want to burden my Wife or her family in case they get tired of me. I have moments that I call intermittent feelings of oblivion. They are very brief and I manage to stop thinking immediately. I feel terrible for trying to get on with normal things – as though nothing has happened. I fear that my friends and family think I’m taking it very well…maybe a little too well. I want to be hit by an emotional freight train but it hasn’t seemed to happening. I want it to so that I can feel ‘normal’.

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  16. I wish i could stop crying. I feel alone and do not want to be here anymore. My dad died a few months ago and i took care of him until his last breath. He was my best friend and also i have nightmares about losing everyone important to me.

    • Hi Roseanne –
      I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds as if your dad was your best friend. I had an aunt who was my best friend. She passed away in January 2014. I walked around like a zombie for months and months. No one around me really understood that she was my very best friend in the whole world!
      It was quite shocking to me and now some of the shock is wearing off. I let a lot of things go by the wayside in my life after she died because I was so grief stricken.
      All I can say to you Roseanne is try to remember all the good things your father showed you and the love he shared with you. That is something that never dies. You go on living and try to remember that he would want you to be happy and take care of yourself. It is great that you can express your feelings. It is normal to feel that way. You are not alone. I am sure he was a great person, and you are too!

  17. I have suggested to so many clients over the past couple years and they love it. I need it now. My mom died less than a week ago and I have been wondering what kind of heartless person I am. I just don’t feel much of anything, I have cried a little – mostly because she was in the hospital and died alone and the staff found her unresponsive the next day. I have wondered if she was scared and that makes me sad. Mostly though – not a whole lot. My youngest sister called to console me and I felt so awful that I didn’t need consoling. I don’t think I’m a robot or heartless but this feeling of not much feeling is really embarrassing.

  18. Background story: i wasnt close to my dads side of my family since they kived in different states and i wasnt close to my dad either due to him being drug-addicted and in and out of jail all his life) i always hoped and wished thaf my father would overcome his addictions and choose his children over drugs (which he always wanted as well) but unfortunately it never happened. Im 23 and my brother is 21. On the 21st of july we found out my father committed suicide 2 weeks prior on the 7th. We found out the same day we were flying out to texas to see our dying grandparents (his parents) for the last time. We were in texas for a week to recieve my dads body, cremate him, witness both our grandparents die, and bring my father back. As the older sibling i stayed strong ( my 3 year old was with us so i had to hide it from her) and i think it completely numbed me. I feel pain deep down but i cant access it. I feel like maybe something is wrong with me, i know itll hit me hard all at onve one day and that scares me. Ive stayed away from alcohol so that i wont get too emotional. I feel that i need to grieve asao before it gets me hard but i just dont know how. I dont know what to do.

  19. I lost my toddler son two and a half months ago. I messed up – left him playing in a spot I could see and thought was safe. The ‘daddy alarm bell’ inside me just didn’t go off. He was so independent and he was happy for it! He got run over three minutes later and died from the injuries. No one blames me – goodness knows it was an accident – but I want to die and feel like I ought to be killed or punished for negligence and stupidity.

    The one person I could ask forgiveNess of is dead. I should be dead. But I am not. I cannot explain to my wife or family or friends that I want to die, or why I think it is appropriate.

  20. I am so relieved to read all your comments. I lost my father on July 7th, my mother wasn’t able to manage things so I made the arrangements for her and got the services set up and housed my brothers from out of town. My father was a complex man and I his only daughter. Even tho he had become quite difficult to deal with I loved him very much. But like you all there are only a few tears when I think of certain things. I do not feel normal. I lost a long time friend about 18 months ago and I cried for months when I thought of her. Why is this not so for my father? But I’m not alone either mom has not had a good cry yet either. However, when her dog had to go to a foster home because she could not care for her she sobbed and found it upsetting to cry over the dog but not her husband of nearly 60 years. What is the difference?

    • Hi Maggie “My father was a complex man”, so was mine, I am his first daughter but I also have a younger sister and three brothers. I was estranged from my father for most of my adult life and only had contact with him occasionally (generally because he was visiting other family members). “he had become quite difficult to deal with” my father has/had always been difficult. When I was a teenager and young adult I went through some tumultuous times because of how controlling he was, trying to control even my thoughts and feelings. He moved our family around from one rental house to the next while he changed jobs frequently. Sometimes we also had to move schools or even relocate interstate just because he was restless and dissatisfied with his life. When I was a young teenager he often worked late in the city (in Sydney) and didn’t always drive home staying in the work flat so we didn’t see him all that much. Last week he died. While he was very sick in hospital I was not optimistic about his recovery as he had heart failure and wasn’t improving enough for surgery. A whole lot of dark and negative feelings started coming up for me so I didn’t drive up to visit him (a five hour drive from my place) . Even when they moved him down to Sydney (about a 3.5 hour drive) I still didn’t visit because I was so conflicted. I tried to write him a card but ended up writing a long thing which wasn’t appropriate to send. I just had too much unresolved anger and hurt. Now he is gone it’s okay. Some negative stuff still came up but overall it feels better than when he was in hospital. “I do not feel normal. I lost a long time friend about 18 months ago and I cried for months when I thought of her. Why is this not so for my father?” I haven’t cried at all. When we scatter his ashes maybe I will shed a few tears but I don’t expect to break down with uncontrollable sobs.
      “But I’m not alone either mom has not had a good cry yet either.” My Mum divorced Dad some years ago. I don’t think she’s been crying at all. She hasn’t mentioned anything to indicate she is grieving. I looked up this phenomenon and it is normal for some people to not grieve when they lose a family member or a partner/spouse from a bad or unhappy relationship. “However, when her dog had to go to a foster home because she could not care for her she sobbed and found it upsetting to cry over the dog but not her husband of nearly 60 years. What is the difference?” I also came across articles that said some people grieve the loss of their beloved pet more than the loss of people/family. I didn’t finish reading the article but I would recommend doing a google on the topic because this article we are responding to assumes the only reason people feel nothing is because it’s a stage of grief. It’s also a fact of life that not all deaths are tragic for everyone who knows / knew the person. I was definitely more affected when my house mate and friend died a few years ago. I had to be in denial for some time because I couldn’t accept someone as alive and passionate as he was could just suddenly die like that. We had our conflicts but we also had a great connection. When you are alienated from someone the emotions leave you. Your pet dog or cat may feel more close and loyal than any human connection. Most of the time no one wants to admit love is actually hard to come by, even in, or especially in some families. I am sure my Dad loved me. He just had a strange way of showing it. Like disowning me over and again. After a while you shut off your feelings and they don’t return.

  21. Profile photo of Eleanor Haley

    Hey Cam, please don’t feel anxious. It’s okay to write as much here as you like, whether it’s on topic or not. I am afraid there is a lot here so I’m not sure I can write the response that your comment merits. I do encourage you to look around this site because we have a lot of content that addresses much of what you’ve discussed in this and other comments. To start though, we have several articles on guilt. I’ll link to them, and then I suggest looking around from there.

    Podcast:

    Guilt and Regret in Grief

    Posts:

    Guilt vs. Regret in Grief
    Guilt and Grief: Coping with the shoulda, woulda, couldas

    Other posts that may be helpful based on your comments:
    Questions of Life, Mortality, and Grief
    Death, Grief, and Shattered Assumptions
    Grief Makes You Crazy

  22. Hey Cam, wanted to reply to let you know you’re not alone, even in this online world 🙂 I know what you mean exactly about the asking about age thing! What difference does it make that your loved one was whatever age, he’s still gone. I also felt that way about people asking me, how are you? I didn’t care so much how I was. It was all about him, how was he? That was what was wrong in the world, that he was not OK because he had died, not how was I. I think you may find lots of supportive posts on this website, check out this page which has a list of articles, because you asked about posts about thinking more philosophically about death: http://www.whatsyourgrief.com/forty/
    Take each day as it comes. Wish you well.
    Yam

    • Dear Yam,

      thank you so so much for your wonderful reply. It’s just such crazy “reality”.. we have all have to live and try to “move on” .. go/look forward .. not back… that’s the hardest part. I feel your pain, and am here to listen and chat if you feel like it.

      And yes, exactly that’s just to the point what you are saying. And I am so thankful you get me. It’s not about me/us grieving ( although, we have all this unknown, scary, upsetting various feelings and thoughts, we have to try to get through.. experiences.. and so on.. ) but the worst part is exactly that our beloved one/s had to go through all these traumatic experiences ( pain, suffering, being scared and who knows what, as in my case and other cases they were in a coma-state of mind.. and nobody knew what they might have felt, and just hoping they didn’t feel anything.. ) and what was going through their minds.. and then just taking their last breaths, being helpless to what was happening to them. It’s just the most unfairest thing in this world.

      And about the asking of age… it’s overall and especially painful, when they are surely yes, taken away from life at a very young, or younger age, or going to a long long suffering illness .. etc.. but still being struck by health difficulties out of the blue and at an older age, it still has the right to be as awful, painful and horrific for all the loved ones grieving our loss. … ♡

      Thank you dear Yam, as well for suggesting this link. I will look into it and will come back to let you know.

      Warm hug. Cam

  23. Hi, lost my Mom a few weeks ago, on Mother’s day no less; My sister called me at 4 in the morning. (Never a good sign.) I’ve felt nothing, no sense of loss, no grief. I keep thinking I should be wailing and gnashing my teeth..and am I a soulless monster for not having any emotions about it? It’s nice to find out other people are in the same boat…

    • Profile photo of Litsa Williams

      Jim, I am so sorry about your mom and glad you found this post. You are definitely not alone. Sometimes grief has to come in its own time, the important thing is to be open to the feelings when the do come. I hope you find our site to be of some ongoing support.

  24. Some people have blue eyes. Some people don’t. Some people collapse in grief. Some people don’t.

    Remaining calm and emotionally detached when a loved one dies clearly has survival value. It allows you to think straight. This clarity of mind might enable you to dodge the next bullet. It might mean you can save your remaining children from the bear, or the invader, or the disease. It’s easy to see why this characteristic has been retained in the human gene pool.

    On the other hand, powerful feelings of grief and loss strengthens social bonds, and this also has survival value. No surprises that this characteristic also is found in the gene pool.

    Again, don’t feel guilty. We are all different. This allows our species to adapt and survive. Don’t beat yourself up. Be who you are. We all behave as we do for very good reasons.

  25. Throughout my life when I have lost someone, I have often felt myself isolated and estranged as I watched those around me fall apart and cry while I stood there feeling absolutely nothing. I recall being 11 years old surrounded by family in the ICU family room just after my grandfather had passed. They all were hugging and crying, while I stood confused apart even though I was the one there for his last breath. My grandmother had gone home for a shower, my mother took me into visit him. He had been in a unresponsive coma for weeks. Yet he roused when I came into the room, squeezed my hand, winked at me with a smile, the closed his eyes. The next thing the alarms began blaring. We had always had a special relationship and I am convinced he came forth to say goodbye to me. And least you think those are the tainted memories of a child, my mother has confirmed my recollection of that day.

    Yet an hour later I stood there, forgotten for a few moments as my family grieved. And I felt nothing. Neither sorrow or loss. Eventually my grandmother looked up and said, “we have forgotten Becca, come here sweetheart. It’s okay.” She embrassed me and finally worried they would think me strange I forced a few tears for their sake.

    This was not a momentary transition. I never did break down. I loved him greatly but never felt a loss that others described.

    When my other grandfather died 10 years later all I felt was anger over something he had done years before. I was surprised that even in death I could find no forgiveness for this act of betrayal, when he sided with my father after he hit me one day. If anything the anger only became more accute and overshadowed the other 99% of good times we shared.

    This last Saturday I lost my grandmother. And once again I find myself confused because I feel nothing at her loss. I did manage to fly back and visit with her a few days before she went, not having seen her for 4 yrs before that. When my aunt called to tell me though she seemed very reluctant to tell me, trying to ensure I was at home and not alone. Finally tired of the hedging I bluntly asked, “She passed, yes?” She was so sure I would just fall apart. And I guess I feel guilty for letting her down because I don’t feel much of anything over it. I’m not depressed (I have experience with depression). I am still interested in things, have a healthy apetite, am not avoiding thinking about it, her, or my respinsibilities. I just don’t feel loss.

    I am partly estranged from my parents. Recovered alcoholics I was too often the parent growung up. They both have healrh problems and the same apathy occurs when family calls telling me they are in hospital again. I love them still but I just don’t get upset about it and I think if I lost either tomarrow all I would feel is guilty relief. Guilt because my family won’t understand that relief.

  26. Thanks for this. My wife passed away suddenly a few weeks ago. While I cried a great deal at the time, I now seem to have neatly compartmentalized my emotions such that I no longer feel much of anything.

    Sometimes, I feel extremely guilty for not crying all the time – to the extent that I deliberately try to dredge up painful memories of her being in the hospital – because I know those will elicit a response. Your comment about “oh no, what if I’m a sociopath?” is right on the money.

    My worry is that by pushing the grief away, I’m failing to process things, and setting myself up for issues further down the road.

    • Dear Ben,

      my heart goes out to you, for loosing your dear Wife. I’ve just recently ( almost 3 months ago ) lost my dear Dad and it was all a sudden shock as well. And as well, I’ve cried a big deal for weeks and weeks .. and still it does in fact dwell up.. and especially like you say it when – — ‘I deliberately try to dredge up painful memories of her ( him ) being in the hospital – because I know those will elicit a response.’ — .. but adding to this, for me.. when I don’t think or try not to think of my Dad, as it’s always painful.. I then feel like I am deliberately/purposely want to “forget him”, “push him away”, “banish him out of my mind”, .. and that goes for, out of my heart somehow as well. I just cannot think of him, without feeling mine and his pain, suffering etc. as well other emotions and thoughts .. – Although, the last thing I ever want to do is not ever think of him, banish him.. abandon him out of my heart, thoughts and life. .. It is just so difficult to find a balance somehow. As all is/grief is uncontrollable to an extant anyways! Will that ever be possible?

      Sending out a big hug to you. Cam

  27. Hi, (Im 13 btw and need help please rely)
    My ex-boyfriend recently committed suicide and everyone around me is feeling horrible and wondering why I am not. I did love him, but he scared me also. I lost many friends because of them being fake friends and a bunch of rumors started. My “best friend” was not there for me through this time. He tried to force me to do sexual things with him and when I refused he would tell me how nobody would ever love me again if I didn’t do these things with him. He kept forcing me and eventually he pulled down my pants down without me wanting him to. I said no more times than I can count. I had many nightmares when I broke up with him. Myself and my parents wanted this to happen, but I was scared he would kill me or himself over it. Last Tuesday he “committed suicide”. His mom told me it was an accident and that he didn’t actually kill himself. I’m not sure what actually happened but I’m worried what did happen. I feel horrible that I don’t feel anything at all. But I have been bullied for being with him. That was also forced on me. He said he would kill himself if I wouldn’t participate in a relationship with him. Part of me is glad that he can’t hurt me anymore and most of me just wishes I could’ve been there to help him through this. He did move to Wisconsin after we broke up. He has done many other things to me and his parents that I don’t feel like sharing. What should I do about feeling nothing? Is it depression like it says in the article?

    • Hi Tina G,
      So sorry to hear all of this. You know it happened really recently and sometimes with time (sometimes even after a long time) you may start to feel differently. It seems like you’re looking for answers and support, I hope you’ll be able to find someone near you who can be your shoulder to help support you with that. You’re going through a lot. It would be a lot for anyone to bear, and you only just a teenager. So take it one step at a time. I’ve found this website is a great place for reading articles so I can think about things. But I’ve found when I’ve needed immediate help or support I needed to turn to offline people: sometimes my sister, my mum, sometimes a realife counsellor. I wonder if you can think of what support you might have near you and who you can find offline, as well as reading stuff to think about online on this website.
      I wish you well and I’m sorry for your loss.

    • Profile photo of Eleanor Haley

      Hey Tina,

      I’m sorry about the death of your ex-boyfriend. It sounds like you are grappling with a lot right now. I’ll say right off the bat, it’s impossible for me to tell you whether you’re experiencing depression. Only a licensed mental health professional can provide such a diagnosis and they can only do so after talking with you and really assessing what’s going on. So, if you feel distressed by your emotional response to your ex’s death, it never hurts to speak to a counselor. I’m not sure if I completely understand everything that you’ve described in your comment, but it sounds like you’ve experienced situations where your personal boundaries have been violated or where you’ve been forced into physical acts you did not consent to. These experiences, in and of themselves, can be traumatizing, so again, you may want to consider speaking with a counselors about some of what you’ve recently experienced.

      Looking specifically at the death of your ex-boyfriend, as the article states it is normal to feel nothing after the death of a loved one. I don’t fully understand everything that’s happened between you and your ex, however, it sounds as though you felt emotionally (and at times physically?) pushed into a relationship with him. Even though it may feel awful to feel this way – even though you may be experiencing feelings of guilt over different things – I think if you felt held captive by you ex, emotionally and/or physically, that it is not surprising that you would a bit of feel relief now that he’s gone. All this to say, based on what you’ve expressed in your comment, I don’t think it’s abnormal to feel nothing. That being said, I am just someone on the Internet and my thoughts cannot replace the guidance of a therapist or counselor. So again, if you feel distressed by your response, if you are dealing with feelings of guilt that you don’t know how to cope with, or if you just want someone to talk to about the death of your ex, feelings of being bullied, or any of the other experiences you eluded to, you should talk to your parents about speaking with a counselor or therapist.

      I hope this helps,
      Eleanor

  28. Christine van DuurenApril 17, 2016 at 8:40 amReply

    Thank you so much. I am glad to know I am not the only one out there. It’s been a week now of feeling nothing after 4 weeks of grief. I don’t even feel any emotion towards God, friends, family or work. I just feel nothing towards everything. But I will get help.

  29. I just lost my precious little boy. He is special needs so I gave so much of myself to him and he gave all of himself to me he is mama’s boy its like we were attached at the heart. I tried so hard to save him and I feel so guilty and have nightmares of this every night. I feel like I’m lost and have no purpose and I feel like no one gets how I feel and alone and abandoned my family left me here to care for my other children alone and its like I freeze and don’t know what to do and like I have to stuff everything in because I can’t abandon them is it all a bad dream and why hasn’t the whole world stopped as I have I can’t breathe and I don’t know how I’ll ever go on

  30. I’m glad I found this site, and specifically this post. But it still leaves me with the thought that I’m in serious trouble after reading it. I have a rare autoimmune condition (a series of severe autoimmune diseases) that is life threatening, and I’ve been home-bound due to this illness for years now. So my family has been struggling with dealing with the possibility that they could lose me “at any moment” for years now. But to everyone’s shock, it was my younger sister that was lost – to suicide – 6 months ago. The family really stressed over breaking the news to me, since my body is highly over-reactive to stress. They were afraid of losing me too, as a result of my own stress upon hearing of my sister’s death. When I heard the news, it was as if someone had flipped a switch inside me, and my emotions were just gone, almost as if they’d never even been there. It’s now been 6 months, and that feeling (or non-feeling) of having no emotions still persists with me. It hasn’t changed a bit. But the strange thing is, physically, I’ve had one complication after another since hearing of her suicide. In fact, I’m facing 2 surgeries in the next couple of weeks, one to insert a Port-a-Cath, and one to insert a feeding tube, because esophageal paralysis makes me unable to take in adequate nutrition or hydration. While it’s true that the esophageal paralysis existed prior to hearing of my sister’s suicide, the complications it is causing have risen exponentially in the past 6 months. So it’s obvious I must be experiencing her loss on some level for my body to be reacting like this. But I just can’t connect with the feelings at all. I fear I’m in real trouble, and I may actually cause my own death due to my inability to feel anything on an external level. This worries me for my family – but even that worry is something I know more “with my head” than something I feel in my heart/soul.

    • Dear Drema, good for you for making this realisation! Although people pop in and out of this website, I hope you’ll find it a place of support. I have over the last year. There are so many articles with useful pointers to things that might help with whatever we might be experiencing. From what you described, it sounds to me that what you are experiencing is so physical that an expert in that field is going to be the most help and I wonder if you felt able to share with them what you wrote above? Maybe some doors will open for you? I hope with that support and with TIME you will slowly start to connect with your feelings in a safe way.
      I found a holiday with my friend in the sun the trigger to allow me to start feeling again. I didn’t even realise beforehand that that is what I needed.
      With warm wishes.

  31. I just lost my papa..it’s my first loss so close to my heart. We all knew it was coming…we didn’t expect him to live this long with colon cancer. The messed up part is that a heart attack got him.
    I cry…especially when I first found out. And when I remember certain things. But when I don’t think of papa I feel numb. Or like in really hot on the inside and then just nothing. It hurts to laugh…just. I feel lost

  32. My Dad passed away three weeks ago today. Completely out of the blue. We found him in my house – just sat in the chair. I tried CPR but the coroner said nothing could have brought him back. I was utterly hysterical on the day it happened. I always dreaded the day this happened – even though he was only 62 I used to think about it sometimes and the thought would turn my stomach. Now it is a reality I find it really strange that I have barely cried since that day. I feel like people must think I’m a cold, heartless person but my Dad was my absolute world, he was my hero and I will miss him more than words could ever comprehend. Thank you for sharing your stories, I at least feel a little strength knowing that I’m not alone feeling like this. Thank you.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about the sudden loss of your father. While my mom was sick, she was expected to go home within a couple of days. Her health was improving, then boom, she coded. It was so shocking that I literally ran out of her room, down the hall crying. I don’t even know where I was going. When the doctor told me she died, my heart dropped. I cried once again when I had to tell my brother, who was away for Christmas, that our mom had died. Other than that, my emotions were so far from me. I think I was so shocked and devastated by what occurred that I truly couldn’t comprehend what it meant to live life without her. They say the first two years are the worst. The first year was coming to grips to the fact that she was no longer a part of my life. As i enter my second year, it’s worse than the first. My emotions or the weight, if you will, is much much heavier. I saw a grief counselor, I went to grief support groups…just to understand. And even though they were great and helpful, it doesn’t minimize the pain. You will still grieve. The emotions will come. You’re not weird or strange. Just because you’re not crying doesn’t lessen the love you had for your father. You may just be in a bubble until your body and mind can come to the full understanding that your dad is no longer here. You will have good days, you will have bad days. And that’s okay. I don’t think it gets easier, I think you learn how to cope and manage better. The love of a parent is so precious. You are not alone in your grief.

  33. I stumbled on this page by accident. I was trying to find out if the sertraline or lithium I’m prescribed account for this numbness I feel. I have been taking these meds, under psychiatric supervision, for several years. As far as I can recollect, I was feeling numb before the horrific day just four weeks ago. I’m sure I was. I’m sure it’s recorded with my psychiatrist that I’m not feeling happy, sad, anything…. Just numb.

    Then 4 weeks ago. Saturday 5th March. I got the hysterical phonecall, from my 19yr old daughter that my sister had been found hanged. I think I just went into auto getting dressed (I was in bed because of anxiety) and trying to keep it together in front of my 13 & 14 year old sons. I got a taxi to my mum’s, not quite comprehending people going about their saturday evening business. My sister had taken her life why where they in restaurants and bars?
    At my mum’s all the family were consumed in this united weeping. I hated myself. I had no tears. The only time I remember actually recall this guttural cry rise from myself was when the policeman came to officially inform us of her death. I shook terribly throughout but I shake with anxiety and I shake with lithium side effects. I remained in my state of shaking numbness for the next fortnight and the funeral. I was convinced it would become real then. Yet, though my legs almost caved in. I managed the church service without crying and only broke down in the crem as the curtains closed. The sounds of her children crying “mum” as she disappeared was heartbreaking and my poor mum, shrivelled with parkinson’s disease asking to go with her baby. But, a few minutes later, I realised I was stone again. I endured my sister’s friends, my friends, neighbours and minor relatives collapsing in tears over me and I felt like the ice queen.

    I deactivated my facebook account last night. It is getting on my nerves now my sister’s (not real) friends sharing prayers, photos and thoughts. I know most of these fairweather friends are doing it for the sympathy and fb likes. My grief is private, internal. I am screaming on the inside but nothing is coming out.

    Sending love to every single person on this post ~ Juz xxx

  34. This helps me enormously. My son took his life March 19th. I cried in horror when the police came to the door to tell us, but now, just a few days later, I am acting as if nothing happened. Everyone else is totally distraught, but I feel nothing. It is reassuring to know that I am not a monster.

  35. Thank you for this site and this topic. My Mum died 4 weeks ago and I feel like most of you above, I feel heartless and abnormal and cant describe it to anyone.
    Im signed off woork for another 3 weeks and to be honest I really dont give a damn about going back to it.
    I just want to grieve for my Mum, she hadnt been ill, we spent all Sunday on a great day out, popped in to see her on Monday teatime, she called me at 10 just before going to her bed and when I passed on my way to work in the morning and her curtains and blinds were closed, I knew right then.
    I found her, she had died in her sleep.
    I adored my Mum, and she adored me. I keep thinking she will be watching me, being Mrs efficiant, packing her belongings up with no feeling whatsoever.
    Im watching sad movies, listening to sad music and feeling nothing, just nothing.

    • I received an email from this thread and read about a woman who lost her Mom and knew it when her Mom didn’t open the curtains in the morning. She mentioned she stopped going to work too, and that she just wanted to grieve…. I had to re-read the email because I thought it was my post (my Mom died Dec. 31). I’ve had peripheral losses since because of an incapacity to take action , ie: income, house, job. I’m coming to understand this: 1. Grieving is a process that will happen throughout my life not an “on” “off” switch. 2. Sometimes I have awoken after sleeping and my face is covered in tears, and I realize I have been crying in my sleep. We humans have remarkable ways of coping; 3. This may sound strange, but, for me, the emotional release of my sadness does not come by watching sad movies or listening to sad songs. The opposite. When I cultivate a fun time, and smile, and laugh, I’ve noticed that the tears I need to release come soon after… I don’t know the lady who did the post about her mother, or the woma who was informed by the police that her son was dead, but I know that I’m capable of loving strangers, and, in my little abode in Canada today I spent part of Good Friday loving two strangers with all my heart. To the woman who lost her Mom: Your mother was so lucky to have not only a daughter but a friend. Thinking of you and your Mom mutual love for each other actually helped me to cry some tears today. Thank you for that.

    • I received an email from this thread and read about a woman who lost her Mom and knew it when her Mom didn’t open the curtains in the morning. She mentioned she stopped going to work too, and that she just wanted to grieve…. I had to re-read the email because I thought it was my post (my Mom died Dec. 31). I’ve had peripheral losses since because of an incapacity to take action , ie: income, house, job. I’m coming to understand this: 1. Grieving is a process that will happen throughout my life not an “on” “off” switch. 2. Sometimes I have awoken after sleeping and my face is covered in tears, and I realize I have been crying in my sleep. We humans have remarkable ways of coping; 3. This may sound strange, but, for me, the emotional release of my sadness does not come by watching sad movies or listening to sad songs. The opposite. When I cultivate a fun time, and smile, and laugh, I’ve noticed that the tears I need to release come soon after… I don’t know the lady who did the post about her mother, or the woma who was informed by the police that her son was dead, but I know that I’m capable of loving strangers, and, in my little abode in Canada today I spent part of Good Friday loving two strangers with all my heart. To the woman who lost her Mom: Your mother was so lucky to have not only a daughter but a friend. Thinking of you and your Mom mutual love for each other actually helped me to cry some tears today. Thank you for that.

  36. I just lost 39 yr old boyfriend, best friend and soul mate of 15 years , its been 11 days and more thn half of thm hav been numb, i too wondered wht was wrong with me tht i wasnt “upset enough” as, besides my kids, he was my WORLD and i flipped out, threw the phone and fell straight to the floor.. screamed cried lashed out, I TOOK THE NEWS VERY HARD BUT STILL WAS IN DENIAL N SO ANGRY 4 the first 3 days thn this wierd NOTHING when i kno my heart is breaking every second, so glad to hear its normal! i woke up today and felt as if i just realized..hes really gone..N cried MORE thn my usual hour..all day..it hurts bad.. I think its like the poor lady who lost her daughter n grandchild said.. its just your brain.. protecting you..not letting u take the full impact of the loss

  37. I love stick figures. It’s what I could draw as a science teacher to demo some concept or theory. Since I draw about as well as I sing ( horribly) my students got a kick out of it but would also grasp the demo.

    Feeling nothing…took me a year and professional help to realize I had not yet grieved because of the nothing. Ironically I was even arrogant enough to believe I was breezing through widowhood. Definitely in a much better place today!⚓️???

  38. Grieving from gratitude – I want to share this tip that I am finding helpful in those rare moments I feel anything since my Mom’s passing 19 days ago. Instead of grieving from pity “poor me I lost my Mom and I am alone in the world” try grieving from gratitude ie: “isn’t it wonderful that I once had a mother who loved me and took care of me and brought me the gift of music”. Grieving from gratitude makes my heart burst with love rather than wither and isolate myself. I’m no fool. I know grieving is a life- long process, despite the “get over it” mentalities out there. So, I can use this process to become a deeply loving person, or, I can let this destroy me. The choice is mine. Everything I do today, creates my reality tomorrow.

  39. Thank you. My mother died on December 31 and your article helped me, and, the stick figures actually made me smile and laugh, so, I felt something. In addition to “melting” or “disappearing” I also experiencing “battery drain”, where a small stressor ie: driving to work in poor weather conditions and suddenly drains my fully charged battery to near zero within minutes.

  40. I lost my Mother 9/3/14, after caring for her. She was 89 and had dementia/Alzheimer’s. My 3 older brothers didn’t respond when I left them messages that Mom passed away.
    My Mother was British War Bride, left England at age 21 and never saw her parents again. She was always homesick and always said ” I miss my Mom”. I decided to make all of the necessary arrangements to take her back to England and was able to lay her to rest with her parents which provided me some comfort. I’m not married and being that my Brothers never responded to me, I ended up going to England alone. I wish I could’ve had someone there with me but I have no other family and most of my friends are no longer around.
    I focused my time on caring for my Mom and didn’t have much (if any) time to go out with friends.
    I still miss my Mom terribly and put the Union Jack on the flagpole this morning as today is her Birthday.
    I’m sure the way I feel is a combination of continued grief and lonliness. I’m taking antidepressants but they don’t seem to do much of anything. I know I have to take the first step in doing things for myself and make the effort to improve my emotional wellbeing. I just don’t have the strength to do much of anything.
    I’ve been doing various projects around my house but on weekends, it’s rare that I ever leave the house.
    Given the way I feel, I can’t imagine what my Mother went through never seeing her parents again.
    I’m hopeful, I can find the energy to push myself forward, see a counselor, become more active etc….
    Everyday, I wonder how much longer I can continue to feel this way. I know it’s up to me to take steps in the right direction in order to move forward.
    My thoughts are with all of you who lost a loved one.

    • This is how I feel. I lost my mom 12/13/14 and while I am really sad still and missing her like crazy, I just have no emotions for anyone it seems. I work and stay at home alone most of the time and I want to get out of the shell that I am in. I want to laugh again to FEEL again and just don’t know what to do. Im not on any medication for depression, I don’t want to go that route. Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. I know I am not either other than being alone. Too bad you didn’t live closer, perhaps we could pull each other out of this funk. Hugs to you

  41. My alarm went off yesterday morning when I checked my phone I had a text message from my brother informing me that our mother had passed away in the middle of the night, I cried but I don’t feel pain whatsoever. I was laying here questioning myself and I found this site. I have lost 3 brothers already, the youngest one died in 2009, my grandmother last year and now my mother, is it possible that I’ve already lost so much that I became numb? Why is it so easy for me to move on? I want to feel something.

  42. Well this is the very first article I have read that describes 100% how I (don’t)feel! I even explained to the counsilar that I am worried that I will never be able to feel again.that I am heartless after my firstborn passed at age 25. Sudden fast accident. Still trying to find myself my 2nd born 8months later also 25 then brainstem stroke.Imidiate coma.no response since his stroke the 12ve and passed the 14th.This happened in 2013 and 2014.Now 18 months after the 2nd son.and I still feel this way.I only cry weep brake down for other peoples loss.Is this good?normal?Maybe I am heartless.Karin

    • Profile photo of Litsa Williams

      Karin, I hope this post and some of the other comments helped you to know that you are not heartless. Rather, grief takes all sorts of shapes, sizes and timelines. It sounds like you have had a huge amount to cope with and numbness can be a protective mechanism when we are going through so much. I am glad to hear you are seeing a counselor and I hope you find information and support here that supplements the professional help you are seeking.

  43. Thank you for this post. The 4-month mark of losing my boyfriend/soulmate is only 4-days away. I have had a variety of emotions that have me all over the scale & what makes it so much harder is that I am away from his family, his kids & our friends who I think could help my grieving process, so I deal with everything pretty much on my own. I have noticed that the last couple of weeks I have begun to feel nothing. I still cry; however, I feel like I just get up & go through the motions of daily life serving no purpose or meaning anymore. I try to engage & be present with my friends & family; however, I have just lost my way. The extreme time by myself & loneliness that I feel since Steve passed is a constant. I can say that I have felt a bit angry with him because he promised he would never leave me. I have recently heard from his kids & his son is miserable living with his parents, which just ads that much more to already over thinking mind. I’m thinking that sooner or later, all my feelings will come back with a vengeance.

  44. I can definitely relate to this article. I can clearly recall staring down at my brothers corpse and not feeling a thing. Not a shred of sadness or grief.

  45. Hi Faith, I’ve posted before so I will try not to repeat those things, but I just wanted to send a few supportive thoughts to you. I really identify with your description of when you were told you had to go to the hospital and being there. In some ways I’m still in the ‘quiet room’ of the hospital trying to get it that my son has died, more than 3 years later. I think the loss we have to face goes beyond the threshold of mere tears. Your words “What do you do?” say it all.. what can you do with something so incomprehensible? If I cut my hand on a piece of paper it really hurts, but when I chopped off the end of my finger once, in an accident, there was no pain. The only time I cried on the day of Tom’s funeral was when everyone had gone home, and then only short lived.. back to numb shock. Fortunately a friend of mine whose child had died suddenly 10 years before, had already told me that she didn’t cry on the day of his funeral either. There is a time I look back on with great compassion for myself.. but at the time I thought ‘What’s wrong with me? What kind of a mother am I?’ It was 4 hours after Tom died and I was about to leave my friend’s home (she had driven me back from the hospital to hers first). Another of our friends had turned up, and as I walked past her to go, she gave me a hug and said “You’ve got to let it out, Liz. Have a good cry”. Now I look back, I think ‘what do you know about it?’ How could I ever for one second have felt bad on top of my loss for being too much in shock to give the appropriate emotional display. 4 hours after I’d been told, and when I could barely walk. I imagine you may agree, that On the way to the hospital/in the emergency room/4 hours after or 2 and a half years.. it makes no difference. It is the same now as then.. too huge, too wrong and too unanswerable. But they are as close to us now as when we were last with them, and that’s why it comes easy to talk about all their lives as if it were yesterday. Love, Liz

  46. My 15-year-old daughter Bailee went to a sleepover at her friends house. I got the call at 5:11 in the morning telling me that they are doing CPR on went to a sleepover at her friends house. I got the call at 5:11 in the morning telling me that “they are doing CPR on Bailee” instantly everything just felt weird. I rushed to 30 minutes to children’s hospital and the whole way there I didn’t know exactly what was going on I didn’t know that they were unable to save her butt in my stomach I felt it and knew that she was gone it was like this empty feeling like a deer being gutted it was just like my whole stomach was empty.
    I got to the hospital and A security guard was waiting for us. He walked us in a back door to the emergency room or a doctor was standing down the hall I knew then before even getting to the doctor that she was not OK. She went into cardiac arrest that morning and after 2 1/2 years I still don’t have an answer as to why this happened to her. We were not able to find anything wrong with her heart during her autopsy and her official cause of death is undetermined. Even as I sat in the emergency room listening to the doctor ( I have no idea what he actually said I had to ask my fiancé months later what he actually said to us ) I just sat there numb thinking what am I supposed to do now? What do you do? How do you leave the hospital without your child? And from then on I was emotionless during her funeral I walked around like a zombie and to this day I worry about how people thought of me that day and even now. I can talk about her and I can talk about the day she was born until the day that she died to anybody who will listen. I have to stop myself from telling people in grocery stores or other places I am not sure why I do this but I don’t cry and it is such a weird feeling. I felt very very guilty after about six months no emotions came and I have waited and waited to just lose it. For some reason her whole life I feared that something horrible was going to happen to and I have waited and waited to just lose it. For some reason her whole life I feared that something horrible was going to happen to her so Imagined this day so many times in my head I thought that I was just crazy and a very overprotective parent but clearly it was mother’s intuition. When I would think those thoughts that something was going to happen to her I could not even imagine how I would live without her and somehow I just lay on this couch every day and have these memories of the emergency room and the funeral and I try to remember more because I only remember maybe 30 minutes of the funeral total. I really thought something was wrong with me until I found Sites like this. My mom died May 31, 2015 after battling cancer for three years and again I have no emotion. I do feel guilty that I think about my daughter and I am way more Devastated still about her being gone and my mom and my mom and I were very close. I don’t know if it is because I was prepared to lose my mom and my daughter I don’t know I just know that grief is such a weird thing and the brain i devastated still about her being gone and my mom and my mom and I were very close. I don’t know if it is because I was prepared to lose my mom and not my daughter I don’t know I just know that grief is such a weird thing and the brain does things in times like this that I didn’t even know existed just blacking out all of your emotions. I do really want to feel. I am obviously sad I am sad every day but never what I have thought about losing my child that I could not cry and just talk about her like it was a movie I saw. I am starting to worry but it has been too long and I know I should have snapped out of this. I am sorry that we are all here talking about this but it is a little reassuring to know that I am not the only person that feels this way.

    • How devestating the loss of your daughter is! It’s both unimaginable and incomprehensible. So much so that I think you have become detached in a way. My mom passed Dec 23rd last year. It was and still is incomprehensible. It’s like, intellectually I know she’s gone…but there’s no connection between my heart and my brain…this the detachment. I’m depressed I know this. I’m in a support group and it really helps hearing what others go through as it reassures me that I’m not going crazy. But I also sought individual counseling and feel the need to do so, as the anniversary is approaching and I’m not doing well. My heart goes out to you. I’m glad this site is helping you in some way.

      • I am so sorry, I can only imagine your pain but you are very brave. You give me hope. I pray everything works out for you, I’m not really good at this comforting others thing but I just wanted you to know even though I’m a stranger on the internet that you are in my thoughts. I feel the same way and I feel like I’m a terrible person, like, did I really love my best friend that much if I don’t feel anything at all? Why am I doing normal everyday things when I should be curled up in a ball for all eternity? When will I stop feeling this way and start to deal with my emotions for real? These are the questions I have. I am very sorry for your loss.

      • i lost my daughter to cancer in june 2015 and I cant describe the way I feel I relate to youre post cant believer she is gone I love her so much she was 32 and we were best friends too miss her and hard to live without her god gets me thru

    • My son was 15 he was having chest pains and said he was fatigued my mom took him to the Adams county hospital they sent him home with chronic bronchitis by the next day even with antibiotics he was having a hard time breathing and chest pain and fever but said he felt a little better then by Wednesday may 11th he was sleeping a lot with chest pain and dizziness I came picked him up drove him to Cincinnati children’s hospital they said he went into cardiac arrest and they worked on him 45 mins I had a autopsy done I’m praying for answers but I’ve been sick my blood pressure is high I feel so exhausted and barely able to function I have no idea how this will ever get better it just don’t seem real.

      • Jessica,
        So sorry for your lose. I’m angry at the doctors when I hear your story. I lost my brother due to cardiac arrest,, 31 years old, cause of arrest is undetermined, most probably thyroid disease. He was reanimated for hour and a half, spent 51 day in unresponsive somma in ICU. We prayed each day, did our best, massaged him, brought all sort of things for tactile stimulation, played his favorite songs, smells of the food he liked. After first induced comma he still had normal pupils, coughing, traheal reflex, then brain edema got worse, they put him in second induced comma and after that he was only left with 6-8 spontaneous breaths of his own, then sepsa and cardiac arrest again. I’m angry at the doctors, they missed his stomach pain and squezzing in the chest and nausea as a possible signs of heart failure or thyroid dysfunction. I was so scarred for 51 day, knowing from the start that he is on the edge between death and life. Now it seems like a movie, seen long time ago. I now in my head he is gone but not in my heart. He was so young and full of energy, active person. I cried a lot when he was in comma, took sedatives to fight the panic and fear so i could have strenght and hope to fight with him and for him. I think this shock of long comma knowing from the start it is a fight for life was to much for me, after this terror nothing seems frightening any more. Like it broke everything in me, everything human and now there is no feelings left. We had to maintain our hope for 51 days, and as each day passed fear was bigger and despair and helplessness and odds for surviving lower. I think this trauma was way to big for me, watching brother dying for 51 day and trying to keep optimistic and doing my best -talking, singing, massaging, all i could think of as a way of stimulation. It ripped my heart out, destroyed all my faith in life and fairness and strength of love and care. People think they can understand. I think they can’t. Life will go on, bla, bla. Not for me. I loved my little brother so much, no i’m just a machine, soldier like as i had to be to survive those 51 days hoping just to bring him home in whatever condition, hoping just for him to breath on his own without support, hoping for more hope to try my best. All i every knew was to give my best and care for him and other people i love. Now i feel devasteted knowing our love, my love wasn’t enough. And i was always cautious regarding health, always telling him, mom, dad to visit doctors. Feel so detached and numb.

    • Dear Faith, I just lost my 31,yr old son 6 weeks ago to a drug overdose. I have always felt something was going to happen to him from day one too. I have always had this enormous fear. He was in a bad accident when he was 16 and barely survived and so at that time I thought ” ok that’s why I have always felt that way”. It’s over and now he will make it. Apparently I was right the first time. I am numb. I always every day of his life been worried something would happen. I have always been very very close to him. I never thought I could live without him and that I would just crumble into nothing if anything ever happened. I found him here at my home . I was home when he passed away I just didn’t know he was using. I went to get him for dinner and found him. My husband and I did cpr until the ambulance got here but I knew he was gone the minute I found him. He was my only child and was my very reason for living.
      He has had many problems since his accident 15 years before and I have always every day of his life been his rock. I am luck enough to have the best husband in the world, my sons stepdad whom he loved and he is now my rock. But I feel numb. I can’t remember anything but for the most part I am acting and behaving normally but I am scared that I have bottled up my feelings. I almost feel like I can’t except it or think about the reality or it will destroy me. I am afraid to listen to music because it may send me over the edge. I feel unlike myself. I keep waiting for it to hit me:(

      • Profile photo of Litsa Williams

        Oh Millie, six weeks after such a devastating loss it is normal that you may still be feeling shock and numbness. I am so glad you have your husband for support. It may also be valuable to connect with others through either a support group or a counselor. There is a group call GRASP that is a support group specifically for those who lose a loved one to a substance passing. We also have a number of posts that are specifically about this type of loss. This is a good one to start with, but then you can find a number of others here. Take care and I hope you find support on our site.

      • Mollie
        Tomorrow will be 6 weeks since my 25 year-old son was called home. Me, my friend, my niece, and my son went hiking. We had planned this trip, we had a great day driving there, warm, beautiful, beautiful water, natural setting. He did what 20 something year Olds do, 5hought he could cross over the water above the falls. He slipped, or was swept away by the swift water over the 100′ falls, found the next day.
        Beautiful service. Everything about that day and since has had a sense of peace, and felt by others regarding his passing.
        I too had a dream when he was a baby that he died. It’s always stuck with me. Why?? He has struggled for 9 – 10 years with weed, drugs, alcohol. In treayment. The last time was for anxiety breakdown and dual diagnosis in December. Since yhen, he worked hard 6o payoff his 1000”s in debt, got proto motion at work, got his driver license back 3 day SD before, and opened account for cat loan 2 days brfore. He fought back and made it back on top. I Am Sorry It Was Not The Same For UOUR son, But I too always had that fear of a bad choice and it somehow taking his life or that of someone else.

        Since his accident, I have cried few tears. In a way, go on l I’m e normal. I wake up every morning wi t have the same thought – he”s not here. Terrified of emotions coming, terrified if they don’t. Ex mother-in-law had surge r y Monday for hematoma – difficulty since then, possibly may need another sutgery. A little more (more than I have had) tears 6onight with her medical scare.
        I don’t understand this seemingly lack of emotion.

      • Mollie
        Tomorrow will be 6 weeks since my 25 year-old son was called home. Me, my friend, my niece, and my son went hiking. We had planned this trip, we had a great day driving there, warm, beautiful, beautiful water, natural setting. He did what 20 something year Olds do, 5hought he could cross over the water above the falls. He slipped, or was swept away by the swift water over the 100′ falls, found the next day.
        Beautiful service. Everything about that day and since has had a sense of peace, and felt by others regarding his passing.
        I too had a dream when he was a baby that he died. It’s always stuck with me. Why?? He has struggled for 9 – 10 years with weed, drugs, alcohol. In treayment. The last time was for anxiety breakdown and dual diagnosis in December. Since yhen, he worked hard 6o payoff his 1000”s in debt, got proto motion at work, got his driver license back 3 day SD before, and opened account for cat loan 2 days brfore. He fought back and made it back on top. I Am Sorry It Was Not The Same For UOUR son, But I too always had that fear of a bad choice and it somehow taking his life or that of someone else.

        Since his accident, I have cried few tears. In a way, go on l I’m e normal. I wake up every morning wi t have the same thought – he”s not here. Terrified of emotions coming, terrified if they don’t. Ex mother-in-law had surge r y Monday for hematoma – difficulty since then, possibly may need another surgery. A little more (more than I have had) tears 6onight with her medical scare.
        And may daughter who just lost her brother is now back across the country and husband is deployed, and financial games played b he and his mother-in-law.
        My fridge gave out. And need to find out why no oil leak, I need 5 qu arts of oil.!

        I don’t understand this seemingly lack of emotion.

    • I cried and cried reading your post, I know exactly what you mean, I am there too, and I am so sorry for your loss, oh dear, I hope one day it gets bearable.

  47. I lost my wife of 21 years on June 23 2015. my daughters are 17 and 16. Together we exercised the power of attorney to end her life in ICU following cardiac arrest as a result of cancer. we knew she would have no quality of life if somehow, miraculously she recovered in ICU only to be faced by aggressive cancer. I am feeling the numbness – I often criticize myself because I am not utterly destroyed – in fact I am just nothing – I care about practically nothing but the essentials ie. laundry, cleaning, chores, upkeep and for those things they are merely necessities- there is zero satisfaction in them. When all is said and done i have those moments where I lose my sh#t in sorrow, loneliness and despair + the realization that this is FOREVER and maybe its too new to be able to digest but for the most part I am emotionally adrift devoid of any orientation whatsoever. I know my wife wouldn’t want us to be curled up in the fetal position laying in the closet somewhere. I don’t know if my daughters have anhedonia or what but their reaction to this is eerie. it’s as if mom is away and they can take it easy – historically I was usually laissez faire and mom was more task oriented and demanding. I guess the heavy stuff might come home to roost in times of high anxiety or distress later. I definitely want to investigate this feeling more to help me understand it. I am comforted by talking to coroners and physicians as if I am their colleagues and I fear that makes me clinical when all along I couldn’t care less about her symptoms and her metrics…I was only concerned about the person i loved, the person who was to me not the physical manifestation of the person but the energy and the soul. i wear her jewellery and the hairband she had on when she died is on my wrist and I have some of her ashes beside my bed…I never used to care about the material aspect of my beautiful girl. I am so very sad, I guess that isn’t anhedonia so maybe there is hope for me.

    • Just read your post about grief from a 2015 I think. Wondering how you are doing with grief now and if it for worse before it got better ??

  48. I also think it is unhelpful that psychologists can be goal oriented when it comes to grief. The dangers of ‘unprocessed grief’ is talked about, and friends urge you to ‘cry it out’ (I first heard that 4 hours after he died). For me the focus is my son, not my feelings. My only goal would be to bring him back, but I can’t.. so I have the rest of my life to experience all the feelings that go along with that. Grief is our response to our loss, not a psychological disorder which can or should be processed in any particular way.

  49. It has been 3 years since my son was killed in an accident and I am only just able to feel love in my heart again. For me it has been a question of having a totally physically numb heart, which I mostly couldn’t even feel beating. I identify with Andrea, sitting in a blind stupor for weeks while other people were crying around me. I felt abnormal, even though before he died I always had intense feelings for my son. In many ways it was a help, like an anaesthetic which I’m only just coming out of. In other ways it was hard to feel the pressure of tears building up inside without being able to cry. I think I felt I could never cry enough tears and if I let them through I would cry for ever. Those of us affected like this can, instead of picking fights, find some forward momentum in helping others and become the ‘strong’ one, but our hidden fragility can make us more vulnerable than others realise.

  50. Thanks Litsa for the reply – it was nice to get. Brene Brown does a awesome series of talks on being authentic, vulnerable, and she talks about how people numb themselves to get relief (subconsciously or perhaps consciously). She talks about how numbing can take many forms: eating six bars of chocolate, spending hours on Facebook, long lay ins…all of this takes us away from reality and would probably make us feel better if it were in smaller doses: a couple of pieces of chocolate, a chat online for 20 minutes, a lay in for a couple of hours once in a while. She talks about this happening in day to day life. I see the sort of numbing we can get in times of grief as a version of this, where we can’t at that time connect to our emotions – perhaps they feel too big to bear – so we disconnect, feel nothing. Her theory goes that you have to let something in – and I suppose most of us do eventually and with time – to allow joy and the beauty of life to enter. With each crack through which the sadness enters and your mind and brain open up to experience and express that emotion, so too can other emotions enter.

  51. Eleanor, I could totally relate to this post. (And I’m loving the stick figures!) I checked out you sight tonight because I just did a grief project (reupholstering Mom’s old armchair). The armchair turned out great, but it got me thinking about Mom. And about grief. And about how sluggish my grief had become by the time she died. I just remember feeling tired and empty. I don’t even remember crying. still have that tired, empty feeling, but now it is mixed with anger and the injustice of it all. And sometimes, some little, seemingly insignificant thing will get to me, and the tears will well up. Anyway, I’m loving your posts as usual.

  52. I don’t agree with how you write that if you are feeling nothing you try to pull out emotions by picking fights. I didn’t. I didn’t have energy to do that, and I had no one near me who I could fight with.

    I agree with the rest: feeling guilty for feeling nothing, worrying that others might think the loss wasn’t that bad.

    It’s been 3 months now, and its only been after taking a weeks holiday (a simple holiday filled with sunshine, walking and resting) have my emotions now started to express themselves. Sometimes.

    Sending my love to all those out there who are grieving.

    • Profile photo of Litsa Williams

      Helen, I am glad the holiday has helped you to find and express your emotions. It is true that nothing we say on this site will ever be a universal. Grief is so unique for each person. Even things that are common don’t occur for everyone. We try to cover as many topics as we can for that very reason- if one thing isn’t true for you or does’t apply to you, hopefully something else will. Best in your healing and sending our love your way!

  53. This post came at a great time for me. Suffering with an “ambiguous loss,” I’ve been on this roller coaster of numbness followed by intense feelings (rage, despair, yearning, panic, “holding my breath,” etc.) for over half a year now. And I’ve experienced prolonged “anhedonia” (oh boy, a NEW term to add to the list! 😉 ) during an even worse, previous loss as well, so it wasn’t altogether foreign to me. I liken the feeling to having a pimple that never comes to a head, while the underground pressure of it slowly drives you crazy! I know it’s a protection device, but it’s just as disorienting and problematic as experiencing all the intense feelings. So this post was a welcome reminder that this, too, is common and normal.
    However, I DO worry that what I really glommed onto here — losing interest in virtually everything that used to define who I was, and that kept me going TOWARD something better during grief — is here to stay this time, since unlike last time, it’s coupled with my despair of ever trusting Life again, and of recurring, bone-tired weariness from other events which caused severe stress that bracketed my latest loss. I suppose some of the numbness could even be coming from that. I’m just so tired of “doing,” period.

  54. I just lost both of my parents one week apart. We’ve cared for them for years/ months in their home. The past two months have been exhausting. My Dad died first, and we had to turn our attention immediately to our mother, who died one week later. We planned a double funeral.
    My dad had a powerful mind and personality and I miss him enormously. I grieved him so deeply the first few days he was gone. Mom died in the early morning hours, and I had stayed up with her all night. Then, a quick turnaround and scramble for a double funeral. It’s been a week now and I feel nothing. But today I went to a grocery store and quickly became overwhelmed.
    I am really tired of people saying “It’s okay to grieve.” I’m tired of my (truly dearest) husband waiting for me to grieve. I find open displays of uncontrolled emotion pretty scary and rather…pitiful. Am I terrible? I just really want to move on…

    • My dad died of a massive stroke on May 13, 2016, my mom died exactly a week later of a ruptured abdominal aneurysm. Both were unexpected, but your story is so similar to mine, that I had to post.

  55. Finally, something that makes sense of emotions to me. Comforting to know that I am not alone on this rollercoaster that nobody but God understands! One moment at a time…

  56. Tomorrow will be eight months since the tragic loss of my son, my daughter in law and my two year old grandson to what we were told was a murder/suicide. I wish I had found this site and this post months ago. I was seriously concerned that I was dead inside or a soul-less robot as I seemed to be “handling it so well” when all of my life I would have assumed the loss of any one of them would have spontaneously killed me. That was ridiculous of course –I was not handling it well. I was completely numb. I could not cry. I was completely unemotional through the service. I sat in a numb blind stupor for weeks literally at times staring blankly into space for hours. I adored them all and that baby was my heart. Since starting to feel and almost losing my mind – I now see the benefit of that numbness. It is clearly a safety mechanism to keep tragic shock and devastation from completely overwhelming you. I think it allows the grief to seep in a little at a time as you can stand it. Thank you for this post. And by the way – I absolutely love the stick figures.

    http://stillbriansmom.blogspot.com

  57. I often wonder if I’m processing the loss of my mom properly. I’m in a grief support group and see a therapist every other week. Yet I feel a certain “distance” from the actually feelings of loss as it relates to my mom’s passing 4 months ago. I laughed at the sociopath comment because I was just self-examing yesterday and made a mental note to research the signs of being a sociopath. This post helps. Sigh…death sux!

    • I am feeling this since the loss of my mother it has almost been a year

      • I’m in a similar situation. I lost my mom 3 weeks ago. We were extremely close and it was unexpected. I’m in my 20s so finding people to understand is hard to come by. Lots of people try to relate their 100 yr old grandma dying when they were a kid to the loss I feel. It just pisses me off. I’ve come to the point of nothing. I rarely cry. At random times a wave will hit me and I’ll cry hard for a second and then it passes. I feel an intense pressure to get over it or move on. I don’t know what to do with the nothingness.

        • I lost my mom five weeks ago on Monday. The feeling if disbelief is still strong, emotionally I’m torn apart. We weren’t really close but after spending time, mainly her last few weeks I feel we did again have that bond which was lost many years ago. I’m struggling to keep it together most days. I’m thankful I was there when she went and privalidged to have carried her to her final resting place. My heart goes to all that’s lost parents.
          My father passed when I was 13, so understanding him going was so different to this

        • @Laura I’ve lost my mother about 8 months ago, and I’ve lost my grandfather, grandmother, grandfather (10 months, 3 years, 4 years).
          I’m also in my 20s.
          Losing both of them is hard. I even think that losing my grandmother was harder, as I was going through a horrible time, and it was my strongest close encounter with death.
          Losing someone is an horrible experience. God. It’s so awful.

      • Same here…I feel like I’m so lost. I’m missing her more everyday.

      • Its been a year since my mum passed and I still feel numb. She had cjd and it was sudden but the most horrific thing I have ever witnessed. 6 months later my dad hung himself because it was all to much. I miss them both everyday as we were really close to the point we were even neighbours. Since all this I’ve had the stress of clearing their house, dealing with solicitors and funerals. It’s been so hard with 2 children and work to cope with. Some days I feel like I’m going crazy, my head is constantly fuzzy and I’m haunted by the memories of it all. I’m trying to be strong and get through christmas for my children and my sister who is now living with us,but there are days when I wonder if I can carry on at all!

    • I felt mostly numb for about 18 months, I was deeply in shock. My Mum’s death was sudden and I was at the end of my pregnancy with my daughter. There was so much to do and organise, I just kept going….until I couldn’t. When we scattered her ashes it broke me mentally and emotionally, and I have been trying to pick up the pieces since.

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