HELP: My mother died four days ago, and I haven’t cried, is that ok?
It’s ok. You likely heard the expression, everyone grieves differently. It’s true and here are just some of the reasons why.
If you think about it, each of us are different in so many ways. Our environment, DNA, childhood, life experiences and more makes us who we are today. These elements also shaped your mother. In addition, you and your mother developed a relationship that is unique to the two of you. This relationship is like a third person or a third dimension influencing your grief. These are some of the reasons siblings in the same family will have a different response when a family member dies.
Obviously, who died will impact you differently (e.g., child, parent). You are not only grieving the person, but also all the hopes you had for that person or plans you made together. For example, losing your partner when you are both in your 80s vs in your 50s will feel different. In both case you miss them, but when younger you also grieve all the plans you made (e.g., retiring, travelling, becoming grandparents).
The circumstances surrounding the death will also influence how you grieve. Was the death peaceful? Was the person ready to die and embracing death? Was it unexpected? Was the person young? Was it through an act of violence?
Often a prolonged illness offers you the opportunity to process some of the grief while your loved one is still living. Similarly, when parents die in their old age, you start to grieve who your parents were as you witness their slow decline in mobility, cognitive skills, and independence.
Many more layers would explain why on day four you have yet to shed a tear. Be kind to yourself.
Having said this, if you are concerned that you are avoiding any emotions following your mother’s death by engaging in negative coping strategies (e.g., consuming alcohol or other substances more than usual). The best advice is to place your hand on your heart, close your eyes and feel your emotions. You will be alright. When it’s too difficult to feel, just breathe. Focus on your next breath and rest in knowing that each moment is unique. This moment shall pass. These challenging times are opportunities for great personal growth if you feel and explore your emotions. Reach out for assistance if you need someone to walk you through this personal work.
Finally, don’t judge yourself or others as they grieve.