Am I Growing Numb to Death?

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Lisa Moran on June 6, 2023.  As a cherished member of and a source of inspiration, Lisa generously and bravely shared her journey, touching and inspiring many in our community. Her courage fuels our mission, and her legacy will endure in our work. Her absence will be deeply felt, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to all who held her dear. We consider it a privilege that Lisa allowed us into her life, leaving an indelible mark on our hearts and our community.

Between lung cancer and COVID-19, my friends and family are dying, and my social media friend list is dwindling, I think I am getting numb to death.

A humbling reality

I get Facebook notices of friends' upcoming birthdays. Then I realize I haven't seen any posts from this person lately. Do I post a birthday wish or not? I have to do detective work and Internet stalking to verify that person is still alive before wishing them a happy birthday.

When I want to invite people to an event or share news and I'm scrolling through my friends list, it seems like every 4th or 5th person has passed away. I'm trying to invite people to a fun or positive time and I'm reminded of the realities that so many have died.

Feeling this angered numbness

In social media patient support groups, there are reports of people passing away daily. Sometimes multiple deaths per day. I don't get very sad about the announcements. It's more of an angered numbness.

The online acquaintance deaths don't allow proper time and ways to grieve. We may have had things in common but I didn't know the person. It sounds cold but I may just scroll by or I will hit that caring hug button.

How do the stages of grief work now?

When I really didn't know the individual. It makes it difficult to go through the stages of grief. I never deny they are gone. I can accept the fact that they are gone. Forever. I do get angry about them running out of time and treatment options. I don't bargain with God or a higher power. Yes, it's depressing but I don't stay depressed. My thoughts go more toward anger than disbelief.

It's not that I don't care. Maybe it's disassociation. If I don't care so much, it won't make me think of my own mortality.

It may not be the healthiest coping mechanism but it's working for now and keeping me out of the sad, dark places in my mind.

Can over-awareness lead to numbness?

I haven't described it to my family. Would they understand? They aren't in the groups. They don't hear of someone dying day after day. I only share the ones I have a personal connection to with my care partner and close family. I spare them the daily tally of those that ran out of time. They don't need to hear or know how many die. They need to hold on to hope and know lung cancer is not the same for any two individuals. This is even when they have the same diagnosis and on the same treatment plan.

If I do get sad for a moment. I may cry. Then I get angry at the situation and the emotions are gone.

I had to take a step back from the recent news reports of the tornadoes in Kentucky. It was better for me to not know or obsess over the details. It was too much death and devastation for me to process correctly. It's better to not know right than be aware and numb to the situation.

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