Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

comfortably numb

“I can’t explain. You would not understand. This is not how I am. I have become comfortably numb.” – Pink Floyd

I’ve half-written lots of posts this week that haven’t made it onto the blog. Thoughts have suddenly flown into my head and left almost as swiftly. I seem to have little grasp on what’s inside my head and an inability to focus or concentrate on my own musings.

I guess this is what it’s like to feel numb.

I shed no tears at my grandma’s funeral yesterday. I felt just a flutter of sadness as I heard my wife’s name spoken by my brother during the eulogy. The only mild extreme of emotion I felt was when I chuckled as my son put his dummy in my mouth and told me to go to sleep during the service.

I fear I have an incapacity to feel anything deeply right now.

You can get drugs to make you feel this way: herbal remedies can help bring calmness; Valium can go someway towards blocking the pain of grief; marajuana can even chill you out. But I think that sometimes our own incredible bodies dish out all the chemicals we need to deal with our mental pain.

Somehow I’ve shut down.

I’m neither enjoying nor disliking the experience but the ‘drug’ is not something I would ever choose to buy. I’m left without any strength of feeling, good or bad. But then I guess this sensation might be some sort of emotional equilibrium. A kind of balancing of satisfaction and suffering that has left me bereft of either pleasure or profuse pain, drive or deep depression, humour or heavy unhappiness.

Perhaps it has been brought on by being back in the home I grew up in as a child. Maybe I’m at a precipice looking back at the life I’ve lived so far and down into the unknown abyss of my future. I’m unable to step back but, for now, I also lack the enthusiasm to take a leap.

But given the suffering I’ve felt for so long, I guess I’ll take this mild form of natural anaesthesia for now. After all, what other choice do I have?

“I turned to look but it was gone. I cannot put my finger on it now. The child is grown. The dream is gone. And I have become comfortably numb.” – Pink Floyd

7 comments on “comfortably numb

  1. Samantha Allen
    July 18, 2013

    Such an apt song and one of my favourites. Your body and mind are dealing with the grief for you right now, maybe you need a little numbness to regain some strength. I wish you peace x

  2. Christy
    July 18, 2013

    My innermost applause’s wildly at your ability to manipulate words that express how I’ve been feeling for the greatest part of the past two plus years! Yes, I’ve had moments that are both extremely delightful as well as devastating, but generally I exist on a neutral plain.
    God bless Jackson, and the precious children of hope & joy; I am so thankful for mine! And thankful too for Pink Floyd & in my case, Mary Mary, who embellish the void with music.

  3. Stacey Vokketur
    July 18, 2013

    Hi Ben,

    I have been following your unexpected journey for some time now…I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved Desreen. I understand completely what you are going through, I myself am around 8 months ahead of you in my own journey after the sudden death of my gorgeous husband Raj. Like you and Desreen, we too were excited by our future lives together, with hopes and plans for the future.

    The numbness that you feel is, like you say, your body protecting you from the pain until you are ready to cope with it. For me this came immediately following Raj’s death. I felt I was looking down on my life watching a tragic movie and this continued for pretty much the first horrible 12 months. Be kind to yourself, give yourself time to grieve but keep busy as you have been.

    You have been an absolute inspiration to me. I watched your blog grow whilst I hid from the world. Only my family, close friends and those who knew Raj where aware of the pain I was going through. It is only recently that I have had the strength to make my situation known to everyone.

    I’m not going to say the usual stuff “time heals” blah blah, because let’s be honest, I don’t think it will for either of us. The sudden loss of your soul mate is also, in part, the death of part of you…I will never be the same person I was again – that was the old Stacey.

    You have your beautiful son Jackson to take care of and you appear to be doing a brilliant job! I wish you all the love in the world and thank you for your part in helping me to get through my own grief.

    Take care
    Stacey x

  4. Carrie Dunne
    July 18, 2013

    Stacey, I’m at exactly the same stage as you. What you say makes so much sense and I hope, Ben, it helps explain something of that numbness you are feeling. I agree with Samantha that the numbness is some form of protection.
    For me keeping busy has been so important and a new Carrie is beginning to emerge through the numbness.
    Keep writing – your strength in being able to analyse and articulate your feelings and emotions is so precious.

  5. LaDawn Clare-Panton
    July 19, 2013

    The body and the brain can also fail you at times. Be careful not to fall into depression. Seek the help of mental health professionals. If depression is untreated for a long period of time, the healing process can be long and painful. If caught in the early days, it is much easier to pull yourself up out of the hole of darkness since it isn’t yet that deep. Much love!

  6. Mary Mourad
    July 19, 2013

    Gosh I had that at 3 months when my mother got sick and had to take her to hospital. All the sad history of my husband’s suffering in hospital rushed into my head and I nearly fainted. Finally when I collected myself I was numb, and it continued for weeks. Doctor said it’s my own body chemistry acting like medicine to help me cope with a situation bigger than my grief. I was so afraid I might not feel anything anymore ever, but it gradually came back weeks later.

  7. David Bushlow
    December 13, 2013

    Ben, your site has been a life saver for me. My partner, catherine, of 19.5 years died of metastatic breast cancer on oct 23, 2013. I feel completely numb, it is so hard to verbalize any sort of emotion. I cared for her day and night during the last two weeks of her life, and i was holding her hand when she left. I have a 7 and a half year old daughter who is dealing with this loss and we help each other out. I am open and honest to people about what I and my daughter are dealing with and it is amazing to watch the men shut down and the women open up. It is distressing that mens greif is so poorly dealt with here in the US. Most men i talk to shut down at the thought of losing their wife/partner, and they cant even imagine how to even start comprehending what we a going through.
    Any way, thank you for this site it has really helped me through some very low spots and let me know that there are other men out there that are grieving and CAN grieve. The guest post of the man who lost his lovely wife to breast cancer earlier this year put me on the floor in a crying mess. You are brilliant.

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