A Lack of Emotional Depth

I’m always afraid to mourn people.

I remember a story my mom told me when I was young about an Alim (A religious person) and his young son who recently passed. The Alim cried every night from excruciating sadness. Then, one night, he had a dream. In it, his son was struggling to swim against the current of a wild river. As if sensing his father was there, the son shouted into the abyss. His voice was somehow clear against the coursing water. “Father,” he called. “You must stop crying for me. Because every tear you shed is another river I must swim until I can finally be in peace.” And so, moved by how much suffering his mourning has caused his son, the Alim stopped crying and moved on from his sadness.

My mom told me that with the message that we shouldn’t cry over the dead. Us moving on will help them move towards a peaceful afterlife.

To me, that meant that I couldn’t cry for someone. Not unless I wanted them to suffer in the here-after. After that, crying was always so hard. I’d feel the stabbing pain in the chest, sure. But letting it out was difficult.

As I got older, I also realized it was something else. Especially now, when a friend of mine has passed away and I’m struggling to come to terms with it, I feel pained for feeling – well – pained.

For me, feeling sad for someone else’s death feels selfish. Like I’m making their passing about me. I’m making it about my pain and hurt, where really it’s about a brilliant, young man being taken too early from this world. I know that I mourn because I lost a friend and mentor, and that he will never be able to accomplish all the things he used to talk about. And yet, it feels selfish. It feels like I have no right to mourn for him.

I wonder how long I’ve been this emotionally crippled.

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