In my experience, a large part of passing includes trying to mimic the way others respond to grief. It is in these moments, when emotions are high, that I have experienced some of the strongest backlash for behaving differently. Not expressing emotions outwardly or immediately comprehending the scale of a tragedy has resulted in being called cold or heartless.
This is not true. It’s not true of me and it’s not true of you.
I may not cry or exclaim loudly, but I feel heartbreak at the suffering of others. I may not engage in conversations about what has happened, but it isn’t because I don’t care. It’s because actively discussing something painful amplifies my feelings of outrage or hurt until I’m unable to escape them. It’s physically and emotionally taxing.
Typically, people discuss, debate and even joke as a way of processing intense emotions and as a way of feeling grounded when tragedy makes them feel disconnected from humanity. If that is not how you cope with strong emotions, don’t let others tell you that you are less.
You are important, your feelings are valid and you have the right to express them in the best way possible for you. No one has a patent on expressions of grief. We are all trying to find a way to live in a world with needless suffering.