A definition for numbness, according to Merriam-Webster is “unable to think, feel, or react normally because of something that shocks or upsets you”. That definition fit my husband, our older daughter and me, to a “T” after Lisa’s death. In a way, the numbness is a form of grace when grief is so overwhelming. I think that we would have been bombarded with too much stimuli from everyday life---phone calls, appointments, household chores and meals if we weren’t numbed.
The grief numbness lessens as time goes on and that’s a fortunate thing. But recently, I heard a news story on tv about the COVID-19 and numbness. The reporter was speculating about why the US is continuing to experience rises in the numbers of positive COVID-19 tests and related deaths in many states after five months of coverage and statistics about the virus. She was proposing that much of the public has become numb to the stories and numbers concerning the pandemic. Television viewers are hearing statistics every day, sometimes multiple times throughout the day. Perhaps many people were tired of sheltering in place. Americans wanted to get back to a social life, a work life and a school life she pontificated. News videos then showed that people were no longer staying home, social distancing and were not wearing masks. If that’s the case, the numbness is a hindrance, not a blessing. The virus continues to spread and spiral out of control.
Some states have leaders that hold press conferences to encourage the state citizens to keep the “numbness” from letting them do unsafe practices. Other states have leaders that disregard the health experts advice. I really, really hope that the public can learn to get past any “numbness” and begin to act responsibly with safe practices or continue to act responsibly. If not, there may be many families that will experience the numbness that accompanies the death of a loved.