Songs of Nature

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Feeling Numb

Day 2

Written By Eyleen Farmer

Image courtesy of Rebecca Webb Wilson, Hawkeye Nature Photography


I am utterly numb and crushed; I wail because of the groaning of my heart. —Psalm 38:8

Image courtesy of Rebecca Wilson; copyright 2010The phone call from the hospital emergency room came at 4 a.m. on a Sunday morning. My teenaged son had been in a serious car wreck. I picked dirty jeans up off the floor and pulled them on. I woke my daughter, found the car keys, got in the car, drove to the hospital, parked the car, and found the right entrance. 

I remember none of this. I only know these things happened because we did in fact arrive at the hospital. I do recall, vividly, seeing my son on the gurney looking frightened and confused. He told us, as best he could, what happened. Then we were shooed to a waiting room so that his injuries could be tended to.  

Later, as we were making phone calls, friends would ask, “How are YOU?” “Fine,” I would say. It was true because in that moment I felt hardly anything at all. I had shed not a tear. Not yet anyway.

At first there is blessed numbness. There seems to be a built in mechanism that makes it possible, when events are overwhelming, to keep functioning. You might think of it as the psyche’s way of “dosing” the pain associated with loss. Soon enough the pain will come rushing in, in all its great fury. But at first there is that odd grace of a gray, anesthetized heart.

This is not the experience of everyone of course. But for many people this is how the journey of grief begins. Stunned, we go through the motions. The kids get fed; work gets done. If necessary, arrangements get made and we find something black and show up for the funeral. There will be time for falling apart later. Thanks be to God. Or, no thanks to you, God.

As the crisis ebbed and my son slowly began to recover, a multitude of emotions crowded my heart. But for those first few hours anyway I was carried along. If you are baffled by the absence of feeling, be assured that even this is a valid part of the griever’s journey.

O God, when the events of my life are unacceptable and totally beyond my ability to cope, carry me. I am able to do nothing on my own. Amen.