What’s wrong with you? Do you long for a good cry but can’t seem to tear up? Are you feeling the pain and sorrow of a loss but without the same response as those around you? Do you fear you’ll appear cold or robot-like for not crying? Think about this:
- Crying is not a required reaction we must have after someone we love dies. There are no required reactions. Applying labels or stereotypes to our own grief experience, i.e. grieving = tears, could prolong the process. There is no one right or wrong way to be when you are grieving.
- Understand that everyone may show grief differently, at different times, over different losses, over the varying course of their lives. We can feel the emotional pain of losing a loved one more or less intensely. Symptoms of grief and the way we express our feelings can change over time too. Focus on your own feelings, the ones you are experiencing right now, and try not to worry about whether or not you’re crying enough or at all.
- Some people may not outwardly show feelings of emotional pain because they could be in a phase of shock or numbness. This can happen initially upon learning the death of your loved one and perhaps at other times throughout the healing process of grief. Certain realizations about your loss, your current circumstances or your future may trigger intermittent periods of shock or numbness as you journey through grief. If this happens, remind yourself it is just a part of the process.
- For those who haven’t been able to cry but long to have a good release, you can always try provoking or triggering a good crying session. Looking at pictures of your loved one, listening to music that reminds you of them or going to places you once enjoyed together might bring on the tears. When all else fails, watching a sappy movie like Lassie, a real tear-jerker, might give you the permission you need to release painful emotions.
- One thing is for certain: if you feel like crying but are purposely suppressing it, stop doing this now. One of the worst things you can do during grief is to prevent yourself from crying. If it is something you feel you can only do in private, so be it. You are not required to have a witness to your tears (remember, no requirements!) But suppressing any of our grief thoughts or feelings can only contribute to a prolonged and possibly more painful journey.
Going through grief is difficult enough. Don’t make it any harder on yourself by trying to force your experience into a tear-filled, cookie-cutter, keeping-up-with-the-Jones’s Kleenex box.
(Note: There could be a medical reason why you are not crying. If you truly believe this is the case, seek the advice of an Ophthalmologist.)