Help! Why Don’t I Cry When Someone Dies?

July 13, 2022 6 min read

Help! Why Don’t I Cry When Someone Dies?

When someone we love dies, it's natural to feel a range of emotions: sadness, anger, confusion, and so on. For many people, crying is one of the ways they express their grief. But not everyone cries when someone dies. Why is that?

Not crying following a death or during a funeral is not as rare as you might think. And if you're worried that it makes you a bad person or that you aren't grieving correctly, this article is for you.

There are many reasons why someone might not cry when someone dies. For some, it's simply a matter of personality. They may tend to bottle up their emotions and not express them outwardly. Others may have experienced so much loss in their lives that they've become numb to it. Or, they may simply not know how to deal with complex emotions. 

Whatever the reason, it doesn't mean that you are a bad person or broken, it simply means that you are going through the grieving process in your own way.

What is the grieving process?

The grieving process is different for everyone. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and there is no timeline for how long it should take. Some people grieve for years while others can get back to normal more quickly. Some people may cry every day for months following a death, while others may not cry at all.

There are, however, some common stages of grief that most people go through. These are:

  • Denial: This is when you first receive the news of a death and can't believe it's true. You may withdraw from friends and family and try to pretend that everything is normal. You might also avoid thinking about the loss.
  • Anger: As the reality of the situation sets in, you may start to feel angry. You may be angry with yourself, the deceased, or those around you.
  • Bargaining: During this stage, you may find yourself bargaining with God or the universe. You may make promises, such as "If only I had been there, they would still be alive." You might start to blame yourself or wish you could reverse time.
  • Depression: This is when the weight of the loss really hits you. You may feel hopeless and helpless, and you may lose interest in things that once sparked joy. Depression can interfere with your everyday life and make it difficult to work or attend social gatherings.
  • Acceptance: In this final stage, you come to terms with the death and begin to move on with your life. This is when you can say you are no longer grieving and have come to terms with your loss. You might still feel sadness when you think about the person, but you are no longer overwhelmed by emotion.

It's important to remember that not everyone experiences all of these stages, and there is no fixed order. You may find yourself jumping from one stage to another or moving back and forth between them. And that's OK.

If you had a complex relationship with the deceased, you may have already mourned their loss. This can also be the case if they had a long illness. Illness can often feel like it has taken people while they are still here, so we start processing our grief before they have even passed away.

If you're not sure how you're feeling or what stage you're in, talking to a therapist or counsellor can be helpful. They can provide support and guidance as you work through your grief.

Why do we cry?

Crying is a natural response to sadness, and it can be cathartic. It allows us to release our emotions and can help us to feel better. Crying also releases neurochemical substances that can improve our mood.

So, if crying is beneficial, why don't some people do it? As we said, there are many reasons. Some people may have a hard time expressing their emotions, while others may not have experienced much loss in their lives and so they don't know how to deal with it.

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What triggers crying?

Crying is often triggered by certain events or situations. These can be anything from hearing a song that reminds you of the deceased to seeing someone who looks like them. Other triggers can include:

  • Seeing photos or other reminders of the person
  • Thinking about happy memories with the person
  • Celebrating special occasions, such as birthdays or holidays
  • Hearing news that would have made the person happy

Sometimes, it can be hard to pinpoint what exactly is triggering your tears. You may find yourself crying for no reason at all. And that's OK, too.

What can stop you from crying?

We think of crying as a normal reaction to grief, but it isn't always the case. Here are some of the things that can stop you from crying

  • Shock and denial: When you first hear about a death, it can be hard to process. Your mind may go into survival mode and shut down all non-essential functions, including emotion. This is a natural defence mechanism that helps us to cope in times of stress.
  • Numbness: If you have experienced a lot of loss in your life, you may become numb to it. This is your brain's way of protecting you from too much pain.
  • Fear: Some people are afraid of crying because they think it makes them weak or vulnerable. They may worry that they won't be able to stop once they start.
  • Personality: Some people simply don't express their pain through tears. If you don't cry easily when other sad things happen, you might not express your pain through tears following a death.
  • Acceptance: If you had a complicated relationship with the deceased, you may have already grieved the loss, so it won't come as a shock when they pass away. This can happen if you are estranged.

Is it normal not to cry?

It is perfectly normal not to cry when someone dies. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and everyone deals with loss in their own way. It doesn't mean that you don't care, that you are cold, or that you are broken in any way. It simply means that you process your emotions in a different way.

If you are worried about how you are grieving, talking to a therapist or counsellor can be helpful. They can provide support and guidance as you work through your grief.

Does it mean you don't care if you don't cry?

No, not at all. It might just mean that you process grief differently than others. And that's perfectly normal.

There are many different ways to grieve, and not all of them involve crying. Just because you don't cry doesn't mean you're not grieving or that you don't care about the person who died.

Some people simply don't tend to express their emotions through tears. They might internalize their grief instead. This doesn't mean they aren't grieving, they might just express it differently.

Why do I not cry at funerals?

It's not uncommon to not cry at funerals, even if you were very close to the deceased. This is because funerals are often a time for celebrating a life, rather than grieving a loss. There may also be a lot of people around who are emotional, which can make it difficult to express your own emotions. If you find yourself in this situation, it's OK to step away from the crowd and take some time for yourself.

What if I am crying too much?

If you find yourself crying all the time or having difficulty functioning in your day-to-day life, it might be a sign that you're struggling to cope with your grief. This is normal, and there are many ways to get help. Talking to a therapist or counsellor can be a great way to work through your emotions and start to heal.

Crying is often seen as the most "normal" way to grieve, but not everyone cries when they're grieving. There are many different ways to process grief, and not all of them involve crying. Just because you don't cry doesn't mean you're not grieving or that you don't care about the person who died.

How can I force myself to cry?

Some people will tell you that you'll feel better if you cry. This might be true, but not always. However, if you want to get the waterworks flowing, there are a few things you can try. Watching a sad film can help you to tap into those emotions and start crying. Alternatively, you could try writing about your grief or talking to someone who will understand and listen to you.

Remember that there is nothing wrong with not crying. It is perfectly normal and no one will think any less of you if you are unable to express your emotions in this way

Sometimes, all you need is a little bit of time to process what is happening. The tears may simply take a little longer to arrive.