We often hear a lament in the grief groups: “I can’t cry. I want to but I can’t. What’s wrong with me?”
It’s normal to feel numb when you’re grieving. It does not mean that something is wrong with you. Emotional numbness can occur when your body goes through the shock of loss. It’s the body’s natural anesthetic to help you through the transition from the reality of the suddenness of death to a new reality. It’s difficult to feel… and difficult to accept the lack of feelings. But feelings will return in time. Some people cry on the inside. Others can’t stop crying for a while. Grieving is a strikingly individual experience.
The following poem aptly describes the despair and confusion of having no tears.
Almost Five Months – Where Are The Tears?
By Mrs. Elizabeth Novitz, a member of the Hope Community
My heart hurts so much. But I don’t really feel it.
I know I’m sad inside. How am I going to heal it?
I miss you so much. But it doesn’t make me cry.
It’s not fair that you died. But all I can do is sigh.
I dearly want you back. But it feels like a dream.
I can’t believe you’re gone and I badly need to scream.
Sometimes I hear it in my head and I want to shriek it out.
Unless I’m on your gravesite, my tears won’t even peek out.
I know that they’re inside me, but I can’t get them to come.
This isn’t me – this isn’t right. I just feel so damn numb.
I can’t express my feelings – my emotions just aren’t there.
As despondent as I must be – it seems like I don’t care.
Though I know that’s false, I know anger’s arising.
I’ve spent five months without my tears so it’s not surprising.
I’m doing what I can to make me feel what’s in my heart.
But still I wait feeling detached even though we are apart.
Is it wrong to want to cry after your husband’s loss?
I don’t think so, and if I don’t – what will be the cost?
What can I do to help me feel, to help me start to grieve?
I’m desperate now and will do what I need to finally get reprieve.