Grief is inevitable. We’ll all experience it at some point in our lives in one form or another. My poor mental health has greatly shaped how I’m affected by grief, which at times over my life has actually disturbed me. My issue with grief got me thinking, is there something wrong with me because I don’t grieve like everyone else around me?
If you’re like me, then the short answer is there’s probably nothing wrong with you. For the long answer, keep reading.
What Is Grief?
Grief is a natural response to loss, but that loss doesn’t always have to be due to the death of someone. It’s possible to grieve the loss of a relationship or even a past version of yourself. The traditional view of grief is that it’s a reflection of what you love, a feeling that can be all-encompassing, which can often be mixed with a feeling of guilt and/or confusion (Psychology Today). An example of grief mixed with guilt is survivor’s guilt. This is where someone feels guilty for surviving an event when others did not.
The 5 Stages Of Grief
The 5 stages of grief are brought up a lot in TV shows and films, or at least they were when I was growing up. But What exactly are the 5 stages of grief? The 5 stages of grief are:
Grief can be an overwhelming emotion for a lot of people, and the shock of hearing that they’ve lost someone can cause them to deny it or to pretend like that loss hasn’t happened. This is supposedly a defence mechanism to let you come to terms with the loss slowly, to reduce the intensity of grief, and thus make it more manageable.
When grief is too much to bear or when denial has passed, the person can become angry and lash out as a way to redirect the pain they’re feeling. Sometimes this anger can be turned at the person who has passed, as though blaming them for being in the situation that led to their death. However, this sense of blame and anger will pass.
Because you can feel like you’re hopeless and have no control when experiencing intense loss, you may seek to gain that control back by playing out different scenarios as if they could change what happened. The “what if…” and “if only…” games that this person will torment themselves with. Plus, if you’re religious, you may even try to make a deal with the deity/deities you worship to bring them back.
It’s perfectly fine to feel down and/or depressed at the loss of a loved one, more so if you have to make a lot of changes to your life as a result, which can then add to that sense of loss. Change can be frightening, especially when you have no warning that it’s coming. Grief can also make you reevaluate your life, making you wish you spent more time with certain people or doing certain things. However, be careful not to get stuck in this stage, as it can spiral into despair if left unchecked.
The last stage is where you’re finally able to accept the loss. That doesn’t mean you’ll be happy all of a sudden, it just means you’ve objectively accepted the loss. You may also recognise that happier days will return again at some point.
The Evidence Behind The 5 Stages Of Grief
Now, what you might not know is that the 5 stages of grief weren’t originally written for the loss of a loved one, but rather for those living with a terminal illness (Psychology Today). Which is the opposite of what we’ve all been fed through the media.
The 5 stages of grief don’t account for or allow individual differences in grief, ignoring the massive diversity in how we grieve as individuals or across time (Stroebe, Schut, and Boerner, 2017). Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be any empirical evidence that supports the existence of these 5 stages (Psychology Today and Stroebe, Schut, and Boerner, 2017).
Each person and every family will grieve in their own way, with some people feeling anxious rather than feeling anything listed in the 5 stages of grief (Harvard Medical School, 2011).
What’s worse is that the expectation that people will, and should, go through the 5 stages of grief can be harmful to those who don’t, like I didn’t (Stroebe, Schut, and Boerner, 2017). But it’s not just the person who’s experiencing the loss that can be affected by this. Some people will worry on someone else’s behalf if they don’t go through the stages (Harvard Medical School, 2011).
If there’s no empirical evidence for the 5 stages of grief, maybe it’s time to resign this approach to history. Instead, we should accept a more individualistic approach to grief so that people don’t feel bad about themselves for not following such arbitrary rules of grief.
My Grief Story
I’ve never grieved once in any kind of supposed conventional way. I did, however, cry when my nana was suffering from cancer in her final days. But at her funeral, no tears at all, I wasn’t even sad, everyone else was upset, but to me, it was just a regular social gathering. But of that, however, I had trouble reconciling that difference, why wasn’t I grieving like everyone? How could I not be upset that my nana died, as we were very close. I’ve always felt closer to both my grandparents than I ever have to my own mum. But then my grandparents have never quoted far-right fascist soundbites and conspiracy theories at me.
It was the same when my great-uncle was murdered and when my granddad died, their funerals weren’t sad affairs for me. When I found out that my granddad had died, there was a tiny moment of shock, and then more relief than anything. My granddad had been living with dementia for quite some time and didn’t recognise any of us anymore. The home he’d been put in was bleak and depressing. I was lucky to have been able to visit him there a few weeks before he died. I was disappointed that my family hadn’t put him into a better home, however.
I think my view on death was changed from the expected norm due to becoming suicidal at such a young age. My view on death is different to most people I know, as death doesn’t bother me, but suffering does a lot.
The 5 stages of grief aren’t a real process, no matter what TV shows and films like to tell us. You may experience one or two of these steps, and you may go through several of them in order or out of order, but you also might not go through any of them at all. That’s because we all grieve in different ways, and that’s perfectly fine. There is no right way to grieve.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences with grief and loss in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
Lastly, if you’d like to support my blog, then you can make a donation of any size below as well. Until next time,
Unwanted Life readers.
Harvard Medical School. (2011). Beyond the five stages of grief: The bereavement process is seldom linear and varies from one person to the next. The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 28(6), 3. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22408814.
Stroebe, M., Schut, H., & Boerner, K. (2017). Cautioning Health-Care Professionals: Bereaved Persons Are Misguided Through the Stages of Grief. Omega: Journal of Death & Dying, 74(4), 455–473. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1177/0030222817691870.
Sue Ryder offers support to people who have been bereaved from any cause, offering a free online bereavement forum, resources to help after the death of a loved one, and free video counselling service. If you want to check out their support, then you can do so here: https://www.sueryder.org/how-we-can-help.
58 thoughts on “A Lack Of Grief: Is There Something Wrong With Me?”
Such a difficult situation. Please be well
Thanks for sharing
Thanks for stopping by
Having gone through grief myself, there were times I wanted the lack of it.
More and more, society understands we all process grief differently.
What’s important is that you are healthy and that your coping mechanism with grief or lack there of, works for you.✨
Some people do grief in public. But some people grief in private and silence. That’s all I know about grief. Thank you for sharing this information. I learned something from reading this post.
Thanks for reading
I had more than once though in this situation that I was doing something wrong for not crying or feeling anything about it, but as you said everyone goes through it differently and I made my peace with it. It’s such a needed read though, thanks for talking about it!
I think it’s important people know that grief doesn’t always mean tears and feeling terrible. I wished I’d known that growing up
I agree that the expectation that every person will work through the 5 stages of grief can make a difficult situation even more challenging. When I was 15, my father passed away unexpectedly. At that age, you don’t know what you’re going through mentally and emotionally on a good day let alone in the face of a major loss like that. Throw in the fact that I didn’t fit the boxes laid out for the ‘grieving process’ and it created far more confusion than I needed at the time. I grieved for my father, but not in the way that they said I ‘should’ which often left me feeling like something was wrong. I wish I could go back and tell teen me that it’s okay to grieve in my own way if that’s what feels right to work through it all.
I wish my younger self knew what I know now when my nana died, as that played on my mind for years afterwards, that something was wrong with me for not being upset by her passing
What an interesting topic and perspective. Unlike you, I feel grief intensely and definitely go through Kubler-Ross’ stages of grieving. For me, when someone has a chronic illness and their body or mind fails slowly, that I begin to grieve for the person from the time I see changes and know that death is inevitable. When something sudden, such as a quick death from a recently diagnosed cancer, the grief is more intense. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for sharing your experience, it helps to illustrate how everyone is different when it comes to loss, suffering, and grief
I am one of those people who prefers to experience my grief privately but I definitely struggled feeling it at all as a young teenager. This is such an insightful post that I’m sure lots of people will be able to relate to.
Thanks for sharing your experience
Thank you for sharing this. I find it helpful to let yourself feel each feeling instead of keeping it all in.
Thanks for sharing
I agree. People do grief differently and see things differently. I think it depend on how you see things it reflect your grief. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks for sharing your insight
I think everyone grieves differently, and it’s important to not put any pressure on ourselves to feel a certain way. Thank you for sharing these important thoughts
Thank you for sharing your thoughts too
Thank you for sharing this. I agree that people grieve in different ways and for different amounts of times. It’s interesting to read things from a different point of view and from someone who isn’t close to me
It’s those types of different views that help us to realise there’s no such thing as normal
Thanks for sharing. This piece made me think about two losses in my wife in the past couple of years.
The first was her grandma, which she was quite accepting about and was mostly pragmatic about the whole thing “she was 97, not everyone lives that long, she had a good life…”
Second was the family dog, the stages of grief being more noticed especially denial, which came from the decision of having to put him to sleep.
Thanks for sharing your families experience. I imagine the act of having to put down a pet that is a family member does come with it’s own unique set of emotions to have to deal
Definitely, that choice of life and death certainly round on her conscious, it was more working towards acceptance that it was the best thing for his declining health and recognising by rescuing him he’d been given a good home for 13 years.
Indeed. You gave him a loving home for the time you had him and that’s what matters
We all grieve differently, it’s important for others to understand that so thank you for writing this post.
Thanks for reading
This is very intriguing. I can only imagine this kind of struggle. I grieve differently & more privately than others to where I don’t cry at funerals or in front of others but I do grieve in private so I cannot imagine this kind of struggle. But thanks so much for sharing.
Thank you for sharing your grieving experience
I didn’t even know that there were stages to grieve but I can relate to maybe two of those stages when I experienced a loss of a relationship,but when it came to death of my grandparents I was too young to feel I lost a loved one. I’m in agreement with you that there is no pattern of grieving. I believe things get better with time with the help of the Lord God. With you sharing your painful events in this life I believe you a strong individual. Thank you for sharing this information I’m slowly learning from you.
Being unaware about the 5 stages of grief growing up must have been nice
Thank you for this! My step grandfather and a family friend passed away two years ago and I did not go through all the stages of grief. I did wonder if this meant I was cold-hearted or too indifferent, so it was refreshing to read this hear today and know that is natural to go through grief in our own way. 🙂
I was concerned I might be a sociopath when i didn’t grieve growing up
Thank you for being so open and sharing. Often, I find myself unable to grieve “properly” and it took me a really long time to realize it’s due to my childhood trauma. When it comes to grief, one size does not fit all.
Thank you for sharing your experience
I think it’s important to remind people that everyone reacts differently to grief and traumatic or emotional experiences!
I don’t feel there is anything wrong with you and don’t let other people tell you how you should grieve – everybody copes with those things in their own way 🙂
Indeed they do
Thanks so much for sharing your story. I always look forward to them.
I do agree with you that grief looks difficult for everyone. We are all unique and different which means our thought process on how we view things and how we feel will always different from. The next person.
Do stay well.
I think grief is such a personal thing and there’s not one way to do it right. Everyone does it in their own way and that’s completely fine. Great post!
Indeed. Thanks for sharing your insight
You are right everyone grieves differently at their own pace and way. There is nothing wrong with grieving differently than others. Your article definitely is going to raise more awareness. Thanks for sharing your personal experience with us.
Thanks for reading
My aunt died 10 years ago but I’ve never cried in her funerals. When my relatives that really close to me died last year, I did shocked – just that. I cry only when I have a big fight with my mom or something that I found unfair in my life. I think everyone feel the grieves differently. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here x
Thank you for sharing you experience with grieving
This was a really interesting read! I can definitely relate when you talk about your grandad having dementia, my gran did too and all I felt was overwhelming relief when she passed! I remember feeling so guilty for feeling that way as well. It’s definitely important to realise that everyone will handle grief differently and it won’t always present the same in different people! Great post, really insightful!
Dementia is a horrible condition, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Thank you for sharing your experience
Grief affects us all in weird ways. We also all have personal relationships with how we view death as a whole. I remember when my Nana died, I was very young so didn’t really understand the concept of death, but everyone around me was crying and upset and I couldn’t bring myself to cry. To this day, I do not cry when someone dies. It’s just not how I process that emotion.
Thanks for sharing your experience on grieving, it seems we’re similar in our lack of crying when someone dies
I enjoyed reading this post. I spent a portion of my life working in hospice care and education on grief is very important to me. I also like to see that you mentioned the old Kubler-Ross Model was only ever meant to be applied to the grieving of the death of a loved one, and even then not EVERY person experiences those stages.
Well Written and thoughtful
I commend you on your work in a hospice, it must be tough seeing people dealing the the loss of loved ones on a regular basis
I had to go through two major bereavements 3 years ago and 3 months apart: that of my father and that of my stepson. My father was in his seventies and my stepson was 13 years old. I went through two very different grief experiences, my stepson’s being the most difficult. It’s painful to see a young person go, because you think about the future they had in front of them and how much they could have accomplished and lived. My father, on the other hand, was at the end of his life and even though I would have liked him to stay with us for another 10 years, it was much easier to accept his departure.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
Thank you for sharing your experience with how it affected you differently because of different age demographics
I agree, people do grieve differently!! It is important to know that people need to take their time with grieving and not rush it! Thanks for sharing ?