During the early stages of grief, you might notice that you can’t feel, and you may ask yourself: Will I ever feel again?

This emotional numbness is normal and will pass. This emotional anesthesia is a protection provided by shock because you cannot handle everything at once. You probably have responsibilities like funeral arrangements to get through. You very well might go on auto-pilot and continue to function “normally’ until you can’t anymore. You might not cry at the funeral and wonder what is wrong with you. In these early stages, you may even feel guilty because you don’t think you are grieving enough. “How can I eat when she’s dead? How can I sleep when she’s not here?” The reality is you have to, for your other loved ones and for yourself. You are doing what you need to do.

Patience is key. Grief will take a while to process. Working on your grief can make it bearable and progress faster. But, working on your grief will not cure it overnight. Grief will be a companion for a while. Don’t try to rush it away.

Death Wish and Suicidal Thoughts

When you’re grieving, you might find you want to die. In my case, it was my daughter who I lost. When you lose someone that close to you, someone you’re responsible for, someone who was supposed to live long beyond your years, it’s natural to want to be with them. And, since you feel it is death that is separating you, it’s only your death that can bring you back together.

If it’s a small child, you might feel you need to be with them to take care of them. At 15 years old, I knew where Shayna was every day and every night. I was responsible for her well-being. I wanted to be with her where she was, after her passing.

I have talked to hundreds of parents since then. While this is something most will not admit openly for fear of being thought “crazy,” my anecdotal experience is the majority of parents who have lost children at some point have suicidal thoughts or at least wish to die to be with their child. I recall the first time I heard a parent admit this. I was in the car listening to a podcast when I heard her say that a bus was driving by and she felt the urge to step out in front of it. She had written a book. I immediately knew I had to get that book. Just knowing someone else felt the way I did, made my feelings seem not as bad. While driving, I had images of slamming my car into a bridge abutment or head-on into oncoming traffic.

Numbness and Suicidal Thoughts

I didn’t seriously consider suicide or make plans for it. I had fleeting thoughts. But, the desire to be with Shayna continues four years after her passing. Every morning I wake up, I think “Here I am again.”;  and not in a rejoicing tone. Every day I count as one day closer to our reunion. If you’re fixating on suicidal thoughts or find yourself planning suicide, it’s time to get help. But, if you have those random thoughts or you find yourself longing to be with your loved one, you’re not alone, and you’re not crazy.

Grief can lead to feeling indifferent. This is slightly different from numbness from emotion. You will possibly stop caring about things, maybe even loved ones. You might let go of things you need to do. You might stop getting dressed. You might not pay bills.  You might start missing work or appointments. Feeling like you couldn’t control the passing of your loved one might lead to the feeling you can’t control anything. And, in comparison, these routine cares of the world don’t matter. Suicidal feelings can arise. Dangerous behavior can ensue, as you don’t care about your own safety. When your indifference causes you to put yourself or others into danger, it’s time to seek help.

Excerpted from Brian Smith’s book, Grief 2 Growth: Planted, Not Buried. How to Survive and Thrive After Life’s Greatest Challenges – Kindle edition by Smith, Brian D. Health, Fitness & Dieting Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Learn more about Brian Smith’s work at Home > Grief 2 Growth

Read more from Brian Smith on Open to Hope: Crisis is a Chance to Address the Big Questions in Life – Open to Hope


Brian Smith

I am a Grief Guide, Life Purpose Coach, and Small Business Consultant. My mission is to help people rediscover who they are and why they are here. In those two questions lie the secrets to not only surviving this life but thriving.   If you're feeling "stuck", it's most likely because you have forgotten the answer to one or both of these questions.   My vision is to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose and fulfillment. If we know the "why", we can endure any "how'. I want to remind everyone of their true nature and their reason for being.   I became well acquainted with grief in 2015 after the sudden passing of my fifteen-year-old daughter Shayna. After Shayna's passing, I felt my life was over. I had to learn to survive for the sake of my wife, Tywana, and my daughter, Kayla. I have studied the nature of life and death and how to progress through grief of all kinds from a job loss, divorce, illness, or the death of a loved one. I speak from experience of all of the above.   I provide a safe space where you can safely share what you are experiencing. I share techniques that I discovered and developed after my devastating loss. Perhaps most importantly, I can help you understand that death is not goodbye and that your relationship with your loved one can continue. Any ending is a new beginning. My understanding is not a religious-based belief, but a position arrived at based on reason and evidence.   Shortly after Shayna transitioned, I discovered Helping Parents Heal, a non-profit peer-to-peer support group for parents of children who have passed. I volunteer with Helping Parents Heal and I am on the Board of Directors. I have worked with hundreds of parents who have lost children. I am also a volunteer and Vice President of the SoulPhone Foundation.   I am the author of "Grief 2 Growth: Planted. Not Buried." I am the host and creator of the Grief 2 Growth podcast.

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