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Why Can't I Cry?


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I'm 23yrs old, and I just recently lost my father on 10/28/11. He was only 45yrs old, he had been sick for the last 6 months and we didn't know how serious it was until he was rushed to the hospital last month. The doctors and nurses at the hospital couldn't figure out what was wrong with him and had to perform a tracheostomy to help him breath since he was such a large man. He was at JFK for a month before they moved him to another hospital to start his physical therapy, he was only there for 2 weeks and was able to talk, walk, and write all the things he couldn't do the prior month. They took the trache out a week after he was there and he went home the following week. He wasn't even home a full week, when he had complications with the trache and couldn't breathe. I watched my father die on his bathroom floor and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. I'm just so angry that he was taken away from me so soon and that I couldn't tell him how much I loved him just one more time. I know everyone says this, but my dad was the best father ever, even when he got on my everlasting nerve I loved him lol. He was my best friend and any problem I brought to him he had a way to fix it. There was no problem he could not solve. I just can't seem to cry at all, I cry the day he died, and at his funeral. But now I can't seem to produce any tears, I feel numb, angry, sad, lost, and disconnected from everything. I just don't know why I can't seem to let it out, I've always believed that crying was healthy and now I can't seem too. Is there something wrong with me?

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My dear Dominique,

There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. I'm reprinting below a portion of the response I wrote to another member several years ago ~ a young person who had the same concern as you do about not being able to cry, because I think the same applies to you:

Posted 15 September 2009 - 09:51 AM

Dear One,

I'm so sorry to learn that your beloved dad has died, and you certainly have our deepest sympathy. I want to assure you that whatever you are feeling right now is perfectly normal for you.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and there is no way that you "should" or "should not" be feeling or thinking or acting. Grief can be very confusing, even for those who have some past experience with loss, and it can make you feel very crazy and alone . . .

As for not being able to cry, that too is not unusual. See, for example, these articles:

Sibling Loss: Unable to Cry, http://bit.ly/9rTjg6

Widow Asks, Why Can't I Cry? http://www.opentohop...why-cant-i-cry/

Mother Whose Daughter Died: 'Why Can't I Cry?' http://www.opentohop...why-cant-i-cry/

Shedding Tears, Healing Waters, by Drs. Blair & Rita Justice, http://www.uthealthl...tears-0426.html

I also want to share with you these noted authors' insightful statements about crying and tears:

Whether they are the result of joy or sorrow, tears are a response to emotions for which we can find no words. They reveal our most vulnerable self. When we cry we are releasing the pain of the loss, not the memory of the one we cherish. The most dramatic rainbows seem to follow the most severe storms. Now when my eyes overflow, I use a guided imagery technique to visualize my tears washing away the pain that I carry inside my heart and soul. And when they finally stop, I look for the brilliant rainbow of love and hope.

– Nina Bennett, in Forgotten Tears: A Grandmother's Journey through Grief

I used to wonder if there would ever come a day when I would stop weeping for my dead child. I thought of tears as a reaction to my feelings of deep grief. Gradually I came to realize that the shedding of tears was part of my healing, like a cool salve on a wound. My tears are my gift to myself, a way of physically acknowledging the love I have for my child, a way of saying, "I love you to the innermost depth of my being." Tears have an almost spiritual healing power, an expression of deep love for the ones for whom we weep.

-- Ann Dawson, in A Season of Grief: A Comforting Companion for Difficult Days

But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.

-- Viktor E. Frankl, in Man's Search for Meaning

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than 10,000 tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.

— Washington Irving

Above all, don't be shy about crying. Crying is coping. In fact, I suggest you don't miss an opportunity to cry – it will be good for your body and soul. Crying is at once an act of cleansing and releasing. Your tears will remove some of the toxic byproducts that have built up in your body due to the stress of grief. I promise . . . you will feel better.

– Lou LaGrand, in Love Lives On: Learning from the Extraordinary Encounters of the Bereaved

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