SHOCK / DENIAL
Just as your brain uses shock and numbness to cope with physical trauma, shock and denial is the coping mechanism it uses for mental and/or emotional trauma. The death of a child is a severely traumatic experience for a lot of reasons.
First... We love our children very deeply so, of course, losing them affects us deeply.
Second... Let's face it... Children are not supposed to die! It just goes against all that we expect as normal and natural course of events.
Yes, there are many more reasons but the last one I will name here is... Our dreams and hopes for the future are attached very closely to our lives with our children. The death of our child means the death of those dreams as well.
So because of these things and more, our minds need time... lots of time to adjust to the reality of what has happened. Shock and denial is the natural way in which this happens.
This stage may last just a few minutes, a few days or even weeks or longer. Like all of the grief stages, we may find ourselves in and out of this stage at different times. The key is to understand it's o.k. if this happens as long as we are working on our grief.
A part of denial is the subconscious thought that our child is just away for a short time and due to arrive any minute. The phone rings, the door opens and we expect to see their smiling face or hear their voice. We may search for them when we are out driving or in a crowd. We know that they are dead but we continue not wanting to believe it. Many habits also continue, such as setting a place for them at the table or driving to daycare or to school to pick them up. All this is just signs of our subconscious denial of the death. Denial provides a buffer for us from the reality of what has happened.
Some of the feelings we experience might be restlessness, numbness, bewilderment. The ability to concentrate is definitely impaired which may make it difficult to think. Be aware that accidents may happen more often because of the inability to concentrate. That doesn't mean that we should curl up somewhere and not do anything. It just means that major tasks and decisions may require some assistance.
Reality and the pain that goes with it; acceptance and the peace that it brings will come. It just takes time. Probably longer than we want.
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