When a loved one dies, I have a strange way of dealing with death. Unlike everyone else it seems, I don’t have an emotional reaction.

In other words, I can’t cry when someone I care about passes. The tear mechanism doesn’t work.

Don’t get me wrong; I feel immense sorrow, it just doesn’t manifest physically. Yet I can watch a sad movie and go through 10 Kleenexes. Go figure.

It all seems bizarre and admittedly I have, on more than one occasion, “faked” crying, just so I could fit in with the moment.

Missing My Stepdad

For example, back in 2014, my stepdad passed away. He was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer, just nine days before his death. It was tragic—one day I went to visit and everything was fine; and then the next week, life as we knew it changed forever.

I remember thinking how brave he was to accept it so well. When the entire family piled in to that tiny hospital room to pay our last respects (I believe there were at least 30 of us), there wasn’t a dry face in the room. Except mine. But I had tissue in hand, wiping my eyes.

My sister and I adored my stepdad. He was the closest thing to a caring father we ever had. He was loving, considerate, and supportive. Most of all, he was present—something we were never used to. Never an unkind or arrogant bone in his body. It was a shame he had to leave us so soon.

To this day, I still miss him terribly and wish we could hang out once again.

Remembering Paw Paw

A couple years ago, my grandpa passed. He was 96; he lived a long, full life, and we were all grateful to have him around as long as we did. He and my grandma (still alive, thank goodness!) practically raised me until I went to kindergarten. My parents had me very young and needed some help. Luckily, they loved having me around.

I have great memories of all the fun I had with them as a kid. Paw Paw and Maw Maw were our foundation – they formed stability in our often unstable life.

So seeing Paw Paw in his final days, lying in pain on his nursing home bed, wasn’t easy. I brought my daughter in with me to say goodbye, and she immediately burst into tears. I remember thinking, why can’t I deal with death by crying? But I remained stoic.

I’m Not Alone

In Megan Devine’s book, It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t UnderstandMegan writes, “Grief no more needs a solution than love needs a solution.” Megan offers a unique guide through stories, research, life tips, and creative and mindfulness-based practices to help us cope with an experience we all face at one time or another when dealing with death.

Having read through some online forums on the subject, I discovered  there are many others like myself who don’t cry when a loved one dies. And that it’s not strange or unusual—everyone has their own way of dealing with death and grieving.

Some get it all out on the table, some grieve over a long period of time; and others never really grieve, but rather sprinkle in the memories from time to time, with sweet melancholy.

That’s me.

Your grief path is yours alone, and no one else can walk it, and no one else can understand it.
—Terri Irwin