Many people who come to Sunset View Cemetery & Mortuary after losing a loved one ask if the way they’re reacting is considered “normal.” Some haven’t shed a tear and feel guilty about it. Some are in shock and don’t feel much of anything. Others have trouble containing their emotions and are alarmed at their level of distress.

Our caring team is here to assure you that although grief is a universal human experience, the grieving process differs significantly from person to person. There are common symptoms such as decreased concentration, disrupted sleeping and eating patterns, and a roller coaster of emotions. But in our work helping El Cerrito, Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond families plan funerals or memorial services, we often offer this reminder: There is no guidebook or timetable for grief. Many factors affect the grieving process from the age of the loved one who died and your relationship to them, to the way they died and whether you had time to prepare for the loss.

Personality also plays a significant role. Maybe you’ve never cried much, and you simply don’t feel like crying. Take the time and space to grieve, expressing yourself in a way that’s consistent with who you are.

But if you do feel like crying, don’t hold back. Crying releases stress hormones including cortisol which can build up in our bodies and cause physical and emotional stress. Crying also stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer which trigger a positive feeling.

Before we cry, our blood pressure and heart rate climb; the hormonal release creates a sense of calm, which is why we often feel better after crying. Those who “let it all out” often feel a lightness, a sense of peace, an ability to breathe deeper and even sleep better. Tears also show a vulnerability that allows others to provide much-needed comfort and encouragement.

That said, if you’re isolating yourself, having trouble handling your usual daily activities, or want to cry but feel like you can’t, it’s important to get the help you need. Reach out to a professional counselor, and check out our Guiding Grief Interactive Video, which offers suggestions for your own healing or to help with someone else’s healing. Keep in mind that ignoring or not working through feelings of pain and sadness can lead to depression and other mental health problems.

No matter where you find yourself in your grief, always remember that our professional staff is available any time of day. We are passionate about our roles in helping those around us – and this includes the difficult days, weeks, and months after the funeral is over. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.