Ever mothballed your life for a bit? Just cut back to the bone? Stopped doing everything but the barest essentials to avoid foreclosure and having a missing persons file being started on you?
I did. I didn't mean to. I wasn't exactly what you'd call aware while it was happening. I worked, taught, parented, fed the dogs, paid the bills. That's about it. Stopped running, writing, interacting with most humans I wasn't paid to interact with. I created my own semi-private witness protection program for several months. I remember feeling numbish, but not entirely unaware. My brain snapped shut at the slightest flicker of the acute grief of losing my brother. It must be exhausting for one's system to exert such hypervigilant control. 
I wasn't conscious of it, but not entirely unconscious, either. I was vaguely aware of a little life formula I seemed to be sticking to: For every three hours of human contact, I had to have three more of solitude. One phone call or in-person contact with someone I could actually speak to about something genuine in the feelings family and I felt blistered like a bad sunburn. I arranged my life carefully around healing from those encounters.I'm not aware of feeling any different; no light switched on. It's more like moving from slow motion to slightly less slow motion, whre there's enough movement, momentum, to not exactly move ahead, but maybe not fall any deeper.

I guess that means I'm back.

About the Author

Pam Cytrynbaum

Pamela Cytrynbaum teaches at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

You are reading

Because I'm the Mom

The Myth of 'Complicated' Grief

It's pretty simple: Stop pathologizing my pain.

How Good Wives Survive Bad Marriages

Your marriage–and so your life–feel over. Now what?

Whose Pain Wins? Did Robin Williams Have a Choice? Says Who?

"I'd love to kill myself. But I'm a Mom. I don't have that option," she wrote.