I Didn’t Cry When She Died

a phone call

a message


years later

I can still


that moment

when nothing

would come out

I was mute

tears that day

never came

and here now

years later

I have still

yet to shed

even one

one drop of



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About John White

I've written off and on my entire life. It took years for me to finally take putting words together seriously. Now it's not, nor does it ever feel, like work. Writing daily has become habitual. No day is complete without words having appeared on the page.

Posted on November 6, 2015, in Poetry and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 83 Comments.

  1. This is really powerful.

  2. Sometimes silence is more powerful than sound or tears.

  3. That’s just me, when I received a phone call from my dad announcing the death of my 14 year old daughter. I cried after 2 months. So emotive and powerfully expressed here, I love it.

    • Thank you! 🙂 I’m sorry to hear about your loss. Losing a child is always so difficult. Hope all is well. It’s great to meet you!

      • All is well, thank you. I have learnt to live one day at a time.

        • There are times that loss just can’t be overcome. The hole left in our lives is simply too great and a part of us is buried with the lost loved one. But, like you said, we live one day at a time and soldier on. We have lives to live and there is much to be grateful for despite what or who may be missing. All the best to you! 🙂

  4. You expressed so much with so few words. Yes….powerful.

  5. We paste words on tablets, phones and computer screens
    We post words on twitter, Facebook and more.
    Write pen to paper, story to rhyme.
    But leave the tears for another time.

    Shed not a tear when I be gone
    Don’t wet your cheeks for me
    I’m in the ink you write with
    That you can not seem to see.

    My poem is apt for you. 😇

  6. I’m sad after reading this..

    • Thank you, Hasmeet! 🙂 Don’t be sad. This was about a bad relationship with someone who was never there for me (not I for them). We weren’t close despite being close family and she never failed when I was around to let me know how she felt. I didn’t wish her ill but I wasn’t sad at all and didn’t cry when she passed away. Sad in a way, yes, but not terribly.

  7. Dang! Yes! This is powerful. You keep bringing the power to your poetry. I sit here thinking that I need to here you recite these poems. Do you have a YouTube channel?

  8. It is never too late to cry. But tears of joy based on memories shared heal the pain of tears of loss that follow such a revelation. I have shed such a tear for us today, for this poem and the memories it invokes for me. Thank you!

  9. I don’t like to assume much about intended meaning. Maybe you’re writing about someone you loved so much that the grief is too heavy for tears. Or maybe, just possibly, you’re talking of someone that hurt you and even now you can’t bring yourself to be a single bit sad about their death. I have experience with both so either way, very powerful emotion here.

  10. I love the idea about making videos of us reading our poetry

    • Thank you, Karen! 🙂 I’ve considered that but I have a face made for audio and not so much for video. 😉 I may do a SoundCloud channel later or YouTube videos with stills to accompany the reading.

      • Perhaps your audience should decide on the visual attributes! I’m having a very interesting afternoon in the main reading room of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley translating a French novel amid the memories of 52 years ago when I was a student here. I’ll write about it tomorrow.

        • I’m looking a little more into getting started but it may take some time to work out the details. I’m sure it’ll be great to go back and reminisce over your time there and just sit back and soak it all in. 🙂

  11. Reminds me of my estranged mother’s death. Well written.

    • Thank you! 🙂 It can oddly difficult to lose someone you’re estranged from but if the relationship was toxic or lost then grief just won’t come. It’s great to meet you!

  12. I love reading your poems because they have less words and more meaning…another good one!

  13. So true… sometimes emotion comes easier to other relationships than blood ties.

  14. sportsattitudes

    November 14th will be the one year “anniversary” of my mom’s death from a terminal illness. There were no tears for me then or now because she was suffering and had no quality of life. More to your point…when I learned of my estranged father’s death after about forty years of no contact with him I did, unexpectedly, cry. I can only assume the tears were for a lifetime lost. He chose not to contact me ever again after my parents divorced when I was sixteen. I never chose to find him and ask why.

    • Thank you! 🙂 I’m sorry to hear not only about your loss but about the circumstances. There are times we react wildly and deeply to the loss of a loved one and other times when we hardly react at all. Often, it can be an unexpected reaction. In my case, it was for the loss of my grandmother who made it clear that I wasn’t her favorite and that she was anything but fond of me.

      • sportsattitudes

        Thanks, John, Your poem was very timely for me obviously. You mention your grandmother, It really wasn’t until my mother passed away a year ago this week how much I realized my grandparents really raised me more so than my mother and father. When my father left my mother “left” also to some extent. My grandparents filled a void as I was becoming a man that I didn’t fully acknowledge until both they and my parents were all gone. Families are so complex and so often unlike what Hollywood and Hallmark wish us to believe they are.

        • It sounds like some tough circumstances in which to grow up though it’s great that your grandparents stepped in and gave you guidance and raised you. Families are complex. You’re right. There are times that it’s just some problems and others when it’s a dysfunction that goes so deep that it can’t be measured.

  15. It took me a year to finally cry over the death of my father, and it was freeing when it happened.

    • Thank you, Therese! 🙂 Those delayed reactions can be tricky too. At the time of their death we can feel just lost and numb then days, weeks, months or years later it comes out of nowhere to find us.

  16. One of my favorites by you so far

  17. I just made a mess of trying to find you to say thanks for your ‘like’ and I think your poetry is great. I ‘liked’ my own stuff by mistake. I’m such a dumbo with the computer. I hope I don’t get banned.
    I’m giving a talk on poetry next week, but it will be rhyming stuff as we have already had one on modern verse.
    Keep it up, Julie.

  18. Beautifully written and sad, after reading the comments, that this person’s death did not stir up any emotion in you. I have some similar relationships in my life and I wonder how I will respond at the time of their transition. Sadness for missed opportunities to love, to share, to laugh together or complete numbness and lack of feeling. Will I be able at least to bless them as they continue their journey? Or will their passing, have no effect at all on my life. We are such complex creatures. I hope, at least, you have found a place in your heart for forgiveness. So many people are unhappy and very willing to share that negativity will all who cross their path. Thank you for visiting Tovarysh. I’m glad to have found your blog.

    • Thank you! 🙂 Finding some forgiveness or at least peace with those who we’re not close to or who have not treated us well is important especially at the time of their passing. I’ve found some level of that and at least let go of much of it. The anger is nearly gone though the confusion of how someone that close to me could be as callous and uncaring is still there. It’s great to meet you!

  19. We grieve in silence too and sometimes it is very profound and dries up our tear ducts.

  20. That is one beautiful and emotional poem! Thank you for helping me discover your blog by visiting mine. I will continue to look forward to your future poems 🙂

  21. the silence is sometimes stronger than words, sometimes our lack of expression becomes the biggest expression… very powerful piece…

  22. It is the absence of any adornment words that just gives this such a punch. Thank you for another excellent poem.

  23. Poignant, powerful!

  24. this is so powerful

  25. Thank you John. I particularly like the way you’ve laid this poem out on the page

  26. I read this poem several times. It resonates with me. When my wifes’s father died she said again and again, ‘Why can’t I cry? I can’t cry.’ Inside herself she could not feel the tears that streamed down her face.

    • Thank you, Tony! 🙂 Those moments can be difficult, confusing and full of mixed emotions. In my case, it was someone I wasn’t fond of not were they very fond of me so it was only natural that I wouldn’t shed a tear. With someone we care deeply about, however, it can turn into exactly what you describe and our bodies might refuse our emotions. It’s great to meet you!

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