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Words of Sympathy > Words for Parents

Healing Tears
by Pat Andrus

Do you wonder if the tears will ever stop? They steadily fall, unpredictably and unexpectedly. Like spring floods, these human raindrops pool into streams then seemingly flow into rivers. Like spring showers, they pop up, beat us down for a time, then just as suddenly, they dry up.

Often inconvenient and unwanted, these signs of mourning, sadness and pain also signify caring, love, joy and even relief. At times, we clearly understand their meaning in our day. Other times, nothing is clear. Everything is jumbled, confusing and meaningless.

Perhaps we just cry for no acknowledgeable reason. Is that so bad? After all, we've suffered a loss. Perhaps the death of a person or the death of dreams, hopes and plans leaves us feeling hopeless and powerless. Maybe we pity ourselves. Maybe we're frustrated and powerless right now.

We know of others who haven't cried, which may make us angry, worried or even jealous. Does it mean they don't care, or didn't care as much as we? Does it mean we cared too much, that we are too soft and sentimental? There are no simple answers to why some of us cry and others don't.

We remind ourselves that tears are not  the only signs of grieving. There are so many others. Humans are all different. our closest friends and relatives will grieve in their own ways, with their own time frames, rhythms and patterns. Just as we grieve uniquely, so will they.

Others may tell us to stop crying, as though we can command nature to change course. How burdensome this is. We must, and will, cry as long as we need to cry, as often as we feel the dampness of moisture, as many raindrops as our body produces. Not to cry when our very nature demands release is to deny our humanness.

What we, and those around us, may not know is the healing physical nature of our tears. Our body produces tears for biological reasons. Chemically, the composition of tears of emotional pain differ from tears of laughter and joy or tears of physical pain. Tears help wash out negative chemicals building up when our body experiences pain or stress. Tears cleanse.

How many tears doe it take? Why, just as many as are needed. Just remembering that there is a physical as well as emotional benefit to crying may help us accept our unique patterns of crying - or not crying.

Nowhere does it say a person must cry to be healed. Or that we must cry in front of others. Some sob, others wail and keen; some remain silent, tears flowing  inside. Some select the time and place where they will release the flood. Others find themselves incapable of controlling the tide.

Many have wanted to cry and just felt they couldn't open the ducts. They might substitute a healthy scream for the effort. Screaming can release the emotions blocking the tears, suppressing the buds of healing from surfacing.

So can journaling, or writing about our grief journeys. Sitting quietly, allowing ourselves to focus, relaxing into our pain may stimulate the tears. But if it doesn't, perhaps we simply aren't ready to cry. Be assured, humans cry. And, like grief ebbs and flows, so will our need to cry.

And, what if we suddenly find ourselves enjoying something, actually laughing until tears flow again? Shocked to think we might be forgetting our pain, forgetting our loved one and moving forward, we may suck our breath inward, gasp our tears back, feel guilt and remorse instead of gladness. Is this the way it is to be forever? How long before we allow ourselves to anticipate good things even while succumbing to periods of grief and longing? The answer seems repetitive ... as long as we need..

Life is full of sorrow, from birth to death. Life is also full of wonder and joy. We experience so much in this world. Tears are small miracles of life, for tears of joy and tears of pain both heal.

This spring we will watch bulbs blossom, trees turn green and grass peek through. perhaps hidden in our grief, almost without our acknowledgment or our awareness, we will sense our own growth, too. We will celebrate our humanness by honoring our need to cry or not to cry. We will laugh when we can, cry if we feel it, and allow others to do what they find healing, too.

Spring is about deluges of raindrops, sunny days pushing past huge, gray clouds, impatiently waiting for the weather to get better. So, too, is grief. Out of great pain and sorrow comes learning, possibilities and growth. Maybe even a deeper knowledge of eternal spring.

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