Tears of Grief — Grief of Tears
~~ by tkbrown — ≥∑
28 November 2020 — The worldwide loss associated with the Covid-19 pandemic has, is, and will have far more impact on us as individuals, as families, as communities, as states, as countries, and as a world than we might ever imagine. There is nothing to reference in responding to these losses. Yes, there have been pandemics before, but the world population, the interaction of countries around the world and the commercial interdependence around the world are far greater than ever before, so the impact of this type of phenomena is unprecedented.
The manner in which some of the losses have occurred, the extent of loss one individual must bear, the burden on families trying to somehow fill the shoes of a person, or persons, no longer with them–these are just a few of the personal losses being experienced. Similar losses have occurred in the professional/work realm, and at the governmental realm–and we are far from done with the related losses.
I believe these losses may be part of the impetus behind the need to protest to such extent as we are seeing in society today. There is no visible, touchable culprit causing these losses in our lives. There is not a “person” we can blame and vent upon, because it is not a person who caused the losses. This invisible force is ravaging our world, and the only way we know to let others know how much we are hurting is to savagely molest something that physically represents some other area in which we feel an intangible loss.
I would encourage caution in this approach. The one thing our families, governments, world do not need right now is another area of major loss. We need to shore each other up and find healthy outlets for our grief. A house divided is a house that falls. The same applies to governments and countries. Learn to grieve in healthy ways rather than creating more pain and grief. I know the tendency may be to lash out at the first possible expression of tangible loss. Remember, this only creates layers of losses. Do what you can to relieve the situation rather than add to it.
True grief, the cleansing kind of grief, involves the shedding of tears. If we do not ever cry, we can never release all of the negative. This release allows us to truly hold the good close to our heart. Many times, I have cried for the loss of someone I love. Many other times, I have told myself to “suck it up and be and adult.” Big girls don’t cry is the message I was sending myself. The question is: “Why did I send myself that message?”
Society teaches both girls and boys not to cry. “Big girls don’t cry” and “Big boys don’t cry” are phrases children are taught as they grow. No one wants to deal with a whiney crier, so it is deeply ingrained into a person by adulthood. We all “need” to cry sometimes. When we experience a loss, it is oft important to acknowledge that loss with tears. If we do not do this, we are never truly cleansed of the negativity associated with the loss (i.e., self-talk: “I can’t go on without _____.” “I can’t do this alone.”). There are any number of negative things we may say to ourselves when loss occurs.
This, “big boys and girls don’t cry” is much more deeply instilled in boys than in girls. It is generally acceptable for a woman to cry–sometimes. After all, women are the weaker sex, so we cannot be expected to go through life without crying. Men, on the other hand, have to “suck it up.” The message sent to men says it is never ok for them to cry. To that, I say: “Hogwash!”
All of us need to cry sometimes to release the pain associated with loss. Men hurt, too, when a loss occurs. We need to make a special effort to teach boys and girls it is ok to cry when we are deeply hurt. We also should accept that there are times tears are shed from joy or gratitude–and that is ok too.
The grieving process in the loss of a dear loved one is never complete until tears are shed. If we want to let go of the negative aspects we associate with that person’s leaving us, we must release those associations with our tears.
When my Daddy and Mama died, I didn’t cry at all until the funeral (just before–on the way to it) for Daddy. When the tears started, they would not stop until I had emptied those feelings of loss and–yes, deprivation–I was feeling. I cried so hard it worried so me who were there. I knew I would never be able to see them, hug them, tell them I loved them–ever again. The pain associated with knowing this had to be released. Only then could I know I would always be able to talk to them, because they are both a part of who I am.
Just as God dwells inside me because I am His temple, there are bits of the people I have lost inside me too. It matters not whether they are family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers–whatever the interaction that made us care for them as a person–to some extent, we need to release those feelings of loss. The death of a loved one–other than Mama and Daddy–has never pulled so many tears from me before I could stop them. Yes, I love my siblings–and I cry when they die–but it is not as intense as losing Mama and Daddy. The important thing I must stress here is: the tears did not occur with that intensity again. Yes, I would tear up occasionally; sometimes, I would cry for a minute or two, but I never cried like that again. I released the intensity of the loss with those tears. This left me with the ability to remember the good parts of my life-giving interaction with them–to hold those parts of them close to my heart. It also left me able to meet the responsibilities of job, family, etc. in the days and months that followed.
This need to cry when loss occurs applies to men too. It is not likely they will cry as hard as I did, but they may. It depends on the extent of loss they are feeling. The loss of some loved ones is no less painful for them than for a woman. Society tends to instill the “no tears” approach much more deeply in men. Whether it is the loss of a person, a thing, or a place–either permanently or for a time, tears may need to be shed. The more dearly and more closely held to our heart, the greater the need for tears. This is true for men as well as for women.
I believe this message allowing tears to be shed at times can be conveyed through learning, in books, the media, social studies, and via other means. It can begin during early childhood and progress into adulthood. In this way, we can give each other–both male and female–permission to release the pain through tears. It is when this is not allowed, the grief of tears becomes a negative concept–so we learn to “suck it up, be an adult.”
The grief of unshed tears can be far more damaging to our psyche than tears of grief ever could be. Tears held in and never released may sometimes be seen as anger toward self or others, negative views of self and/or others, or in other ways too difficult to explain or discuss in a brief manner. It can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and require the need for extensive processing to facilitate the healing of release. Whatever the setting, eventually those tears of grief must be shed or the grief of tears begins to become the norm.
If we think we cannot release our grief–that it must be held in until it is gone–we will never allow ourselves to properly grieve. It will not go away if we hold it in. So, if we can ever truly overcome our grief, the freedom and permission to cry will be a part of the path we take to the ultimate, healthy acceptance we desire to achieve. Healthy acceptance will never mean we do not miss the object of our loss. It means we accept the loss and its importance in our lives; we give ourselves permission to grieve for that loss when the need arises. This allows us to move past the grief and back into productivity.
I know, we don’t typically think of our familial and friendship relationships as an area of productivity, but a lack of productivity in these areas means those relationships die. Thus, a lack of interaction with family and friends–when it is within our ability–signals the probability of a loss that has not yet been resolved within. An unwillingness to interact signals that irreparable damage has been allowed to develop at some point in time. If not addressed and worked through (processed)–with or without the other person–healthy relationships are not likely to occur in the future because there will be a lack of trust. This lack of trust will impede the closeness of all relationships.
So, when loss occurs, give yourself permission to cleanse the unhealthy pain by allowing the tears to wash it away. Holding that pain in will cause its own grief–separate and apart from the loss. Big girls and boys do cry sometimes. These tears allow us to go on meeting other responsibilities so long as they do not dominate our life. Don’t allow your tears of grief to become the grief of tears not released.
Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth & D. Kessler. (2014). On Grief & Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. Scribner. New York.
Kirby, Stephanie. Med. Rev. by Santa, Melinda. (17 September 2020). “The 7 Stages of Grief and How They Affect You.” betterhelp at betterhelp.com. Mountain View, California: betterhelp.com. (28 November 2020). https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/grief/the-7-stages-of-grief-and-how-they-affect-you/?utm_source=AdWords&utm_medium=Search_PPC_c&utm_term=_b&utm_content=80082676786&network=g&placement=&target=&matchtype=b&utm_campaign=6459244691&ad_type=text&adposition=&gclid=Cj0KCQjwqrb7BRDlARIsACwGad7NNf5XmV3-_em0YWLV2asKoQx8ZSJ4JJZ5K4bxBrDIFplE2zwlaWoaArSQEALw_wcBl.
Eds. Web MD. Reviewed By: Goldberg, Joseph, MD. (13 April 2018). Grief and Depression. WebMD at webmd.com. (28 November 2020). https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-grief#3.
Photo Above: by pen_ash at pixabay.com.
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