Highlights
  • In some cases, victims of loss aren’t overwhelmed with difficult emotions but feel emotionally numb instead.
  • This is sometimes a normal reaction, which typically occurs when an individual loses someone or something suddenly and unexpectedly.
  • Still, it’s important for these individuals to make sure they grieve properly, which involves understanding and processing the loss.
  • To process the loss you’ve endured, schedule counseling for professional guidance if you need additional support.

Losing a loved one can be an overwhelming experience. Yet, some find themselves in a bewildering state of numbness at first—a disconcerting absence of feeling when one expects sorrow to overflow. 

If you’ve found yourself in this space, seemingly untouched by waves of grief, know that you’re not alone. This article aims to unravel the complexities behind feeling nothing after the loss of a relative, exploring the intricate layers of emotional responses and providing guidance on how to navigate this perplexing terrain. 

Discover more below about how to move forward when it feels like you can’t feel anything—and when you’re ready, our providers are here to help.

What Is It Called When You Don’t Feel Emotion When Someone Dies?

Emotional numbness is the word that is often used to describe the absence of emotions—but to feel numb is still just part of the grieving process. It’s an entirely normal facet of grief. So if you’re wondering, “Why don’t I feel sad when someone dies?”, don’t overthink it.

In some instances, shock can dominate our emotions, while at other times, a complete absence of feelings prevails. When someone unfamiliar passes away, it’s typical not to experience a profound emotional reaction, like you may have been expecting.

Similarly, if the relationship with the deceased was strained, the sense of significant loss may not be as prominent.

Why Don’t I Cry When My Family Members Die?

You might not be crying because everyone’s experience with grief is different. Everything can influence how you experience a loss. For some people, it means you have a strong outward expression of emotion, but others feel sadness inside and don’t express it, while others bury it. 

Is It Normal to Feel Relief When a Parent Dies?

Yes, it can be normal for a variety of reasons. If you have a bad relationship or a complicated relationship with a parent, it can be relieving because you don’t have to engage with the deceased individual any longer, and that’s not something to feel guilty about. 

If they were sick for a long time and the end of their life was time and financially-straining, it can be relieving as well, as they are no longer suffering and you are no longer worrying constantly. If it was something that they were afraid of, sometimes it can be a relief because you expect that it’s coming. 

It depends on the quality of the relationship that you shared, how things were at the end of their life, and your personality. Your reaction may also be affected by the stage of grief that you’re currently experiencing. According to Kübler-Ross’s Theory of loss, grief has multiple stage, most commonly recognized as: 

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

We may enter and work through the stages of grief in a nonlinear fashion, explaining why some people don’t feel anything when a loved one passes at first.

Why Do I Not Get Emotional About Death?

Death as a concept is very complex, and it can be different for everyone. Comprehending death can be very difficult because we have no idea what’s on the other side. 

But if you focus on the person you lost, or perhaps you get a terminal illness, and you are suddenly feeling a certain way about death, that’s also normal. If your belief system doesn’t support a positive concept of death, you may be more fearful related to how death might feel. 

Why Am I Not Grieving for My Mother?

Grief is a process, but that doesn’t mean it’s linear—so while you’re not grieving for your mother, at present, that could very well change. As stated previously, grief looks very different depending on:

  • Which stage of the grieving process you’re experiencing
  • The relationship you had with your mother
  • The circumstances surrounding your mother’s passing

If your expectation of grief and the way it looks is very specific (i.g. crying, screaming, depressive states), you may not experience exactly that. But you could experience a different step of the grieving process.

There could also be many relationship-based issues that can affect why you aren’t grieving. You may be relieved that the end of someone’s life has come. The grief may come out in different ways, and it doesn’t look the same for everyone.

How to Grieve When You Feel Emotionally Numb: 6 Tips

6 helpful tips for grieving when you feel emotionally numb include:

1.) Discover your true emotions: It is important for individuals who are feeling emotionally numb to be kind to themselves, and allow themselves to sit with their grief and emotions, rather than pretending they are not there.

2.) Prioritize your well-being: Also, remember to prioritize your health and well-being during this tough time. Doing so is important to healing and moving forward. 

3.) Acknowledge your grief and allow yourself to mourn: At the same time, you shouldn’t shy away from grieving and mourning the loss.

4.) Don’t shy away from spending a little time alone: While it’s helpful to confide in loved ones and important to welcome their support, it’s also important that you spend time alone if you feel you need it.

5.) Consult a trusted individual when making big decisions: This could be friends or family. During this vulnerable time, you shouldn’t make big decisions without first discussing them with a trusted individual, as they can give you some helpful insight that isn’t influenced by grief.

6.) Talk to a grief counselor or other mental health professional: Find a mental health professional to help you through the grieving process, especially if your mental health is suffering.

Remember, grieving is a deeply personal journey, and there’s no right or wrong way to navigate it. Allow yourself the space and time you need, honoring your unique way of coping. 

In this process, you might discover that acknowledging and accepting this numbness can be a step towards gradually reconnecting with your emotions and finding solace. Be kind to yourself during this challenging time, knowing that healing isn’t a linear path but a journey with its own pace and rhythm.