Things have been quiet on the blog this month. We’ve gotten one message after another informing us of events going on back home in the states.

Both Jay and I lost a close family member in the past 2 weeks, as well as finding out that a family friend had died as well.

So here we are, locked in our own private little worlds. Pouring into our favorite hobbies or whatever task we have at hand. Not really able to do anything or say anything because we are on the other side of the world – physically and emotionally.

You see, Jay and I neither one process grief well.  Maybe it’s our personalities – both introverted, logical types. Some of it might be our upbringing and the self-sufficient Midwest culture in which we grew up. Whatever it is, things like grief and loss are foreign to us. We don’t do well with raw emotion and other-than-private expressions of loss.

In one way, we are the kind of people you want around when emergencies happen. We’re both very calm and rational in the face of danger and fear. We’re better at taking action than at reacting to a situation.

At other times, this is a huge disadvantage. We find it hard to cry at appropriate times. It’s hard for people to believe we are truly sad. In fact, I’ve been called cold and unfeeling before.

The truth is that I do cry. But it’s usually private and long after my mind has had time to relax and process all the new information.

Maybe I do the grief process backwards. Because I start out with the cold, hard fact that someone close to me has died. Then I work through what that means – what will be different. And finally I am able to mourn that loss, that hole left behind.


I remember when my good friend and his parents all died in a car crash when I was in 8th grade.

It was very hard for me because I couldn’t cry for a long time – months after it happened. But there were kids who were very outspoken and public about their grief – way too public if you ask me. They got all the attention. From the teachers, the grief counselors. I felt as if I had a closer relationship with the deceased than some of those people did.

I felt ashamed. The counselors pretty much just brushed me off because I didn’t know what to say, what I should ask, how to express my paralyzing fear of death.

So I created my own way to get through. I wrote a diary, to my deceased friend. I just told him about what was happening, all the things he was missing. Eventually I just stopped writing, when I was strong enough to go through a day without wanting to tell him something.

But grief has always been that way for me. A long, quiet process that very few people get to witness. I’m always afraid that I’m not “doing it right” or that people will think that I am callous. My emotional responses are just sometimes delayed or backwards from how other people experience them. Yet, I don’t consciously hold anything back or believe that feelings are bad.

Over the years, I’ve worked on my game face for when I have to be around people who are not uncomfortable about displaying those raw emotions.

So part of me is kind of glad that we are so far away during all this. 3 deaths in a month is a lot to process without worrying about the proper social responses we need to show.

The other part of me feels guilty – for being glad and for truly not being there for our families. That’s our strong point remember? We are usually pretty good about staying calm, comforting others, and making decisions.

As we sit here, he at his desk and me at mine, I know that the silence means we are grieving. We’ll be ok. But for now we just need to be alone.

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12 Responses to When you can’t process grief well

  1. HomefrontSix says:

    There is no ‘right’ way. Prayers and hugs that life eases up a bit.

  2. Marisa M. says:

    I’m sorry for your losses. I can relate. I can cry, but I am also very calm and in control when there’s a crisis, and I’ve had many to test that. I guess we are just strong people.

  3. Sandy says:

    Thank you for being so honest and real. I, also, tend toward the private grief. I understand. Peace be with you and your husband as you process and grieve in your own time and your own way.

  4. Tessa W says:

    Sorry to hear about your losses.
    Your grieving process sounds very similar to mine and my husbands. Nothing wrong with keeping emotions private. Or as private as they can be by publishing it on the World Wide Web.
    May God give you all comfort and strength during this time of grieving, however that grief may be worked through.

  5. Terese Christian says:

    I’m very much the same way…a bit stoic in times of grief, good in a crisis. I don’t think there is anything wrong with us, though I have also wondered if there was. I just think you process grief differently than those who are more emotive in their expression of grieving.

    In the last four years, my husband lost his job, we had to move, lost a lot financially and in terms of possessions, home, etc., and we both lost our dads within a year and a half of one another. It was a lot to process. For me it came out (for the first time) in sleeplessness, anxiety, and general stress. I’m not so much for crying, though.

    I think the way you’re processing it just fine and always has been. God created you with this emotional make-up for a purpose. If we all fell apart in a crisis, if we all cried at the same time, it would be a mess!

  6. Adrienne says:

    I’m so sorry for your losses. Until last year I had never experienced really losing someone dear to me. Grief is tricky and I think it’s different for everyone. Loved reading this!

  7. Ticia says:

    As I read your post I thought about a book I read when my Dad died almost 12 years ago called “Tear Soup,” and I pulled it out, and out feel the Memorial card from my friend’s funeral a few years ago. I want to pass on to you a few pages from this picture book.

    “For many years the custom of making tear soup had been forgotten. As peoples’ lives became more rushed they found it much easier to pull “sou in a can” from the shelf and heat it on the stove.
    But several years ago Grandy got a taste of well-seasoned tear soup. One of her friends made it from scratch after her child died. As soon as Grandy tasted the rich flavor of that carefully made soup, she promised herself never again to assume that quicker was better.”

    Tear Soup is different for everyone, some people need the big emotional display, and some like you need to be alone and have time to process. Take that time and do not feel guilty or like you must keep up appearances.

  8. Paola Collazo says:

    Be at Peace!

  9. Nicole Junkin says:

    I am so sorry for your losses. I am one of those loud processors, so I honestly cannot relate to how you are grieving. What I can relate to is that we all grieve differently and should be allowed to grieve in whatever manner seems right for that situation. When my dad died 5 years ago, I responded much differently than I ever had for other deaths. I had to allow myself and others deal with the death in the way that was best for them.

    Blessings, peace and lots of comfort from The Best Comforter there is. Fortunately he is always there, no matter what time zone you’re in. 😉

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