Crying is sometimes seen as a sign of weakness – it’s not. After losing a parent, crying can help release pain and lead to healing.
My family was never one for open or public displays of emotion. I was raised in a house where the love for one another was known but not shown or said out loud, until my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I was raised to believe that there was a time and place for everything, including emotions.
Emotions were dealt with in private. I didn’t openly cry at my mom’s viewing, funeral, or burial. Tears were silently shed, but kept under control. I didn’t even say goodbye to my mom. I simply told her that I loved her because in my heart I knew we’d be together again one day.
But the emotions I felt after my mom died didn’t stay inside. Like a bag of marbles that suddenly broke, every emotion tied up in the grief from my mom’s death scattered everywhere. Each time I tried to pick them all up I would drop one or two or sometimes more.
I had lost control and with that loss I slowly and painfully realized that I needed to let these emotions out on “my own terms” because if I didn’t, they would come out on their own.
So I cried. I cried a lot. And I learned that it’s ok to cry.
When my mom first died, I cried every day. Tears of loss. Tears of disbelief. Tears of pure pain. I was fortunate because I worked from home. So I could cry in the privacy of my home office. Even if someone was home I had my office, my space to shed many, many tears. And that I did. I was used to crying in private because I had done it my entire life.
Even when you want to, sometimes it is impossible to put on a happy face when you’re sobbing on the inside.
I was broken emotionally. I had lost all four grandparents and then my mom in a timespan of eight and a half years – more than half of the family that had surrounded me for most of my life was gone. I cried over the death of each of my grandparents, but I never let myself truly grieve or even begin heal. My mom’s unexpected illness and death broke open the dam of grief and I cried.
At first I cried alone. But then I started sharing my feelings with family and friends. I cried with my husband and also with my kids. I cried with friends who understood and wanted to help. I cried with people who felt my mom’s death, the loss of her presence from this earth, as deeply as I did.
I cried and that was ok. It helped me to heal.
I still cry sometimes, even though my mom has been gone for almost 6 years. We always used to celebrate my mom’s birthday and my husband’s birthday together. About 2 weeks ago, I was getting cards and a cake to celebrate my husband’s birthday. I stood in the checkout line at our local supermarket looking at the cards and balloons. I missed my mom so much and all I could think about was that we should be celebrating her birthday too. The feeling of sadness overwhelmed me and my eyes filled with tears. I was determined not to cry, but then the woman scanning my stuff asked if I was ok and I lost it. As I apologized for my tears and explained why I was upset, the woman came over and gave me a hug. She told me she was my angel for that moment.
Was I embarrassed that I started crying in a very public place? Of course. Did I felt better? Definitely. I cry because I miss my mom, not only for myself but for the life my kids now live without their grandmother. I have learned that it is ok to cry.
I believe that crying is a way of cleansing the heart. Crying doesn’t make me weak, it allows me to feel and to become a stronger person because I am not hiding my feelings anymore.
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