Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why can't I grieve?

At my last therapy appointment, my doc told me to make sure that I grieve the loss of my marriage. She said, Danielle, I know you. You won't grieve it and you really need to. It is healthy. Take time and feel the loss.

She was right. I have not shed a tear over it yet. I don't think that I will. I want to, but I can't for some reason. I cried during the marriage a lot and I think I justify the fact that I got over it during the marriage, so I shouldn't grieve the ending.

When my parents divorced, I was 30 years old and although it was dysfunctional, it was all I ever knew and I did not cry. I had always wished that they would get divorced when I was little. I was angry over being thrown in the middle and the way things went down, but I didn't grieve the actual ending of the only thing that was ever constant in my life. I justify. About 5 years later, I had a breakdown about it, but come on, 5 years later? WTF?

When my grandmother, the most wonderful, influential person I have ever known, died, I did not grieve. I think about her every single day and I miss her so much, but I did not cry. I justify in my mind that she was old, lived a great, happy life and died from Alzheimer's. She did not go through any pain and was smiling when she passed. She also lived in a different state my whole life, so I didn't see her on a daily basis. I justify.

Although, my other grandparents and I weren't as close, they were a part of my life and when they passed, I did not cry. Again, we weren't as close and we lived in different states and therefore I did not see them often. This is what I tell myself for my lack of tears. I justify.

I have only really been devastated by 2 break ups in my life. One when I was 19 years old and one during my big change in careers, and financial situation. Now I have had MANY break ups, and only grieved 2. Neither of which were my long term relationships. I justify.

However, I will cry at the drop of a hat when criticized about my parenting skills or I think about something happening to my daughter or I fell like I am insignificant. I bawled when my daughter acted up on the plane and when I was in jail. But I can't seem to cry at LOSS.

I know this is something that I need to work on right now. I know that I can not/should not date until I have felt all of the emotions that I am supposed to over the ending of my marriage. Even if it takes years of alone time, I need to wait until it happens. I need to learn and experience what it feels like to feel and understand what it means to be done, over or gone. I can't justify it anymore.

I need to feel. Period.


  1. Danielle, I do not believe you are alone in your situation. Many people do not cry or grieve loss because they do not have a frame of reference for what it is they lost. What that means is that you probably did not value your marriage in a way that helped define you as an individual in a more positive way. It sounds like you have stuggled to define the value of relationships your whole life. That is based on the situation with your parents. If you as a child could not place some stabilizing loving value on the relationship you had with your parents because their fighting wouldn't allow it then you would have grown up without really knowing that all important value. What do you do about it. You have to make sure you understand the value of yourself within first and then start developing deeper friendship with those around you because you need lasting deep connections to people to understand the value of them. This should lead you to a greater need for intimacy in a love relationship because you will feel the value of it unlike the way it has been for you thus far. It involves taking risk with friendships to go deeper but that is probabaly the only way to move forward. Once you have that reference point you will totally invest in a relationship and it should bring the happiness you seek. Good luck.

  2. I think many of us can relate to the various stages of emotions you are going through. I don't have anything wildly insightful to share here other than I speak from experience when I say that eventually the justify bottle will be full and you won't be able to stuff anything else in it. But you already know that.

    Good of you to trust blogland with this. That's probably an important step - identifying....


  3. Though your therapist has a valid point, you can't force yourself to feel. If you can't cry about your marriage, then don't.

    I think all you can do is just welcome the grieving process when you feel that you are ready to.

    When my grandmother passed away, I grieved. But I could only grieve when I was back in Austria. I couldn't do it unless I was in her hometown.

    Maybe it's just too soon. The divorce process is new, and maybe you are just in shock right now and adjusting.

    I can't give you pointers on marraige or divorce. But as far as grieving, you will when you are ready. The time will eventually come.

  4. I only know what I have felt, and I do know that it takes time. Give yourself a minimum of a year before you date or have sex with someone. Honor that, because in doing so you are honoring the fact that you are a human, deserving of love and affection and caring. Honor your own self, and I can almost guarantee that you will, in fact, find your way from numbness to grief to feeling. :) And I send you big hugs.

  5. Daffy-The justify bottle will be too full. So very true.

    Senorita, I agree that it will come at some point. I just hope it comes sooner than later. I want to get healthy.

    Kori-Thanks girl. I agree.

  6. If you want a little help with this problem. Imagine Toots going through all the things you went through and how she would feel.

    I know for myself I may not blink an eye at things in my life, but put my son in that situation and it's a whole nother story.

  7. How ironic that we both posted about the opposite issue. You WANT to feel, I've been trying to protect myself from feeling ANYTHING weak or sad or lonely. Maybe we both just need to accept that feeling is ok, and we'll both get through it, right?

    Thanks for your comment.

  8. Mike- Good point. My daughter can make me tear up instantly.

    Hanna-You hit it right on. Feeling is ok and as soon as we get that, we will be good. Come to Denver and hang with us soon.

  9. It'll hit you at a completely unexpected time. There's so much surviving to be done in the beginning. And there are so many times when, as parents, we HAVE to hide what we're feeling to protect our kids that it's easy to get lulled into a sense of having already grieved, albeit without tears. But there will come times, when your life feels more settled, that the grief will hit. When it happened to me, I just made sure I had sunglasses!

  10. I don't know what to say here. I think you're awesome to share this with us. I don't know how you can force yourself to grieve. I have had similar issues and the emotions usually come out in inappropriate ways.

  11. I use Movies to get me crying. When I was trying to grieve the loss of my relationship, I watched the Sex and the City Movie and balled for hours. Carey's "He's not coming" line summed up the let down and loss for me. I don't even know what happened in the movie, it got me crying and then I was able to continue crying and examine my feelings...

    Good luck, grieving is a hard thing to do.

  12. "I cried during the marriage a lot and I think I justify the fact that I got over it during the marriage, so I shouldn't grieve the ending."

    I'd argue you did feel, and you did grieve, and this statement hit the nail on the head.

  13. You shouldn't have to grieve simply because someone tells you to. Grieving is a personal thing, be it now or twenty years from now.
    Accepting is far more important than grieving in my book....

  14. April-Sunglasses might come in handy if it ever hits.

    Kys- Thanks for this. I am usually unappropriate too, so I wish I could just cry.

    Christopher- You are right. Maybe I did in my own way.

    Savage- Thanks for stopping by.
    I am not sure how to accept it either though. Hmm

  15. It was three years after my divorce before I really cried it out and grieved. Don't be hard on yourself. It will happen when it happens. But do let it happen.

  16. When you're ready, it'll happen. I remember once in High School, I had been keeping a lot of stuff bottled up and not saying or doing anything about it. A couple of months later I was cooking in the kitchen with my mom and dropped a knife. I started crying so hard, she thought I had cut myself. I hadn't. It was just the last straw. I was ready to get it out. When you're ready, it'll happen. You might find that you're crying over something that makes no sense to you. Just take care of you and your little girl. The rest will happen when it's time.

    By the way, your daughter is GORGEOUS! My daughter is 2 as well. What a fun age.


  17. When your heart and spirit are ready to grieve, you will. Problem is, it may catch you when you least expect it or are prepared. But that's the way it works, sister.

    There's a lot to go through in the moments ahead. First, just be honest with yourself about where you're at emotionally--WHATEVER THAT IS. Second, be KIND to yourself. Trust me.

  18. Oh, Danielle. I am thinking of you...people all grieve in different ways and at different rates...you just have to be you!

  19. i am also uncomfortable showing feelings of grief or loss. this goes back to me not crying no matter what my dad said or did when he was punishing me b/c i didn't want him to know that he was 'getting to me' at least i think that's where it comes from. it is a hard row to hoe and i'm right there with ya sister. big hugs

  20. I also did a lot of the grieving for my marriage during the marriage. I was relieved in a sense not to be with my Ex anymore, so had some mixed emotions for which I also felt guilty. It's been about 15 months and I've recently realized that I've yet to fully process the whole thing. Sitting in a quiet room, looking at picture, and allowing myself to feel sad has brought some of the needed feelings up. On the advice of a former therapist, I give myself a short period in which to do so (say 30 minutes to an hour a couple times a week) after which I need to do something productive for myself like go to the gym, meet with friends, etc. The pain isn't fun but without experiencing it I'm convinced I'll never get past it.

  21. WOW honey... how did I miss this post?

    Yes, I agree with some of the commenters here. You will grieve at an unexpected time. As a matter of fact, the whole process takes years. I STILL grieve over the loss of my marriage at times and its been almost 4 years and 2 major long term relationships later!

    A therapist once told me that the grieving process is much like a spring or a slinkee. The coils are wound tightly together in places and pulled apart in others. You may have days where you're grieving a lot and then several days will pass (perhaps months or years) and something will trigger it again.

    No sense feeling guilt over it. You'll deal with it the best way you can.