Why aren’t you crying?

From Death at a Funeral (funny movie!)


Why aren’t I crying?

Is there something wrong with me? Where are my proper feelings?

Mum died last week, and I loved her a whole heap.  I was there when she died, and I cried THEN, and meant it, of course.  But now…I don’t feel grief.  I don’t know what I feel.  I can’t feel what I feel.

I feel different, though.  I’m an orphan.  It’s been said a million times, but you don’t feel truly adult until you’re alone in this world, without your parents to pick you up when you fall.  When they die, you feel as if some kind of elevator has moved up a step, and now YOU’RE in the waiting room for old age and death – it’s only a matter of time.  I’ve BEEN procreated, I’ve procreated, myself – now I need to make way.  Perhaps THAT’s grief, for me – a sort of low-level feeling of ‘well I guess that’s it then’.

Wouldn’t it be nice if life was an orderly progression to heaven, with a neat totting up of sins and brownie points at the end of it and then a never-ending picnic in a meadow with all your long-lost friends and relatives.  I don’t understand why religious people have to search for meaning when it’s so pleasantly presented to them.  Atheists, on the other hand…well, freedom is a sometimes painful gift, and we’re free to make our own meaning, or fail to.

For me, it all comes down to the moment.  In this moment, I have a cold, and no mother, and I feel dimmed, like a candle when a draught comes in, but not guttered.


  1. People grieve in their individual ways and different pace. Try not to be hard on yourself, Rose. From my experience, it’ll come. Eventually.

    1. I guess it will. No, I’m not hard on myself, just puzzled (and I guess a bit concerned that other people will think I’m callous, as they do sometimes). I think my feelings are in there somewhere, I just can’t dig that deep.

  2. Friend: You are so honest. This is YOUR grief … or whatever YOU want to call it. I received a bunch of books from people about “The stages of grief”, etc. I picked one up, read a few lines and thought. Why do i have to read about it? I’m going to experience something (duh) and as long as i’m not unhinged, i’ll go along and feel how i feel. I had some wicked crying myself because we sat and held mom’s hands until her heart stopped. It took two hours. She was cold and things were coming out of her mouth. She was gone. I knew it. But, as you say, sometimes i simply think, “well, that’s it, and i hope she is in a happier place … and we’ll see what comes next”, right? It’s all about how you want to deal. That’s key.

    1. It’s a strange thing, to be with someone who’s dying, isn’t it. One second they’re the person you knew, alive though very sick – the next minute they’re almost an object, although a much-loved one. I think you’re so right to just go with however you’re feeling, and understand that it’s ok to deal with things in your own way. I saw something on someone’s blog, btw, a neuroscientist giving a talk on dying, and that was – well for me not totally convincing but very interesting. It was about the afterlife, essentially, and suggested that people do go somewhere happier, as do animals. I’d like to think my mum was alright and with my dad. Anyway thanks for the comment, Mels dear.

  3. I love your honesty, Rose. Grief is such an individual process and you know already that it will appear as it will, moment by moment. Nearly four years after my father’s death, I still can’t talk about him without choking up.My grieving for him has been very slow and incremental. I’ll bet that writing about your mum and your process will, over time, be healing.

    1. I think it’s so much worse for you, Sally, than for me. I seem to be able to hold on to anger for a good while, but not sadness! I think there’s something lovely about the way you have access to your real feelings, but that makes it hard too, when you can really ‘feel’ grief over the long term. I do feel that writing about my feelings and my mum helps sort things out for me.

      1. I think you’re right about the writing being helpful. I wish I’d been blogging when my dad died. Perhaps I could have let go of my sadness little by little. Thinking of you.

  4. Grief is so personal…I think everybody does it in a different way. I’m not sure if there is a “Proper” way to do it in my humble opinion. You say your candle feels dimmed…that is what it’s like…but then, your daughter will do something to put a big smile on your face and your candle will burn a little brighter again…(that sounds corny probably)

  5. here’s some advice – don’t take advice. Feel how you feel. We are all different, and deal with things our own way. Nothing is right, and nothing is wrong. It is what it is.

  6. PS, On second reading that sounded a bit hard, it’s not what I meant, sorry. Just wanted to convey that you can embrace your emotions in whatever way you want. No one can or should tell you how you “ought” to feel. 🙂

  7. Having lost my mother not so many months ago I can appreciate how you feel. There is a hole left and nothing may ever close that, but I don’t believe it can ever be filled.
    I have had many people tell me that in time this will heal, perhaps it will, but never completely.
    The best words I recieved were from one of the partners of my firm, he said to remember her, how she lived, how she loved and that through you, through your children, she will never be far from you.
    Take that for what it’s worth, but I thought it was brilliant. Brilliant in that he didn’t say this will pass, that I shouldn’t feel as I feel, he just pointed out that there is a part of her in me, in my children, that still lives. I think that is a simple, yet beautiful way to look at it.
    For your loss all I can offer are my condolences.

  8. Rose, I agree with what others have said, we all grieve differently as we deal with emotions and the world. I think it is wonderful that you have taken the time to celebrate your mum’s passing in words, to have allowed other to share the love you felt for your mum and gain an understanding of her life and what she meant to you. So don’t feel guilty for how you feel or how you are dealing with your mother’s death. You are you, and for someone who knows you that’s wonderful enough. Kind Regards CS

  9. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I have suffered a few too many losses myself and it is perfectly normal to go through this. You actually need to go through each of the rather strange and tormenting feelings, whether anger, denial, grief or, as you are experiencing now, a numbness. Don’t be surprised if grief overtakes you at the oddest of times. 2 years after my last loss, I had a sudden and rather unexplained melt-down. There are no real words anyone can say at a time like this. I get the feeling that you are not religious but, nonetheless, may God be with you.

    1. Thanks very much. You’re right, I’m not religious, but nevertheless, I have a feeling you may be right about things creeping up on you much later. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had a hard time with loss recently, too.

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