Since having kids, I’ve become a real crier. Perhaps motherhood’s hormones tipped the scales. Maybe I’ve just developed more empathy as I’ve aged. Whatever the cause, the result has been lots of tears in our house. Happy, sad, angry, wistful, frustrated. All the tears. They’re all welcome.
As a regular crier, I’ve always disliked the term “ugly crying.” In my book, no crying is ugly. Body shaking sobs that make my mascara run? Sacred. Weeping that leaves my eyes puffy and my face red? Endearing. Humans are the only living things on earth that cry. What a sacred honor to be able to express our emotions in such a visceral, physical way. Expressing our emotions in tears is never ugly. Tears are healthy, cleansing, empowering, precious.
Since Rob died, I’ve cried a lot. Weeping. Bawling. Wailing. There has been so much to grieve. An outsider might say my tears haven’t been pretty, but I think they are beautiful. Every tear reveals the depths of my heart, a heart that is full of love and wrestles with loss. I cry when I think of the happiness of my past life with Rob. I cry when my heart aches from his absence. The Psalmist tells me that God keeps my tears in a bottle. None of them are ugly to Him; all are precious.
Many times, grieving people find themselves apologizing for crying. In the grocery store or the doctor’s office, they tear up and find themselves saying, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cry.” They believe their tears are ugly, something to hide, unwelcome. They think grief is an emotion nobody wants to see. I’ve done it myself, found myself explaining away my emotions to make someone else more comfortable. How unfortunate.
Rob used to tell our kids about a song he sang as a child in school. “It’s alright to cry. Crying gets the sadness out of you.” Hokey lyrics, perhaps, but scientifically accurate. Tears are not only beautiful expressions of our emotions. They release hormones that ease pain, improve mood, and relax us. Far from being ugly, crying offers our bodies the opportunity to rest and repair.
Recently, I was talking to my grief therapist and she stopped me short. “When did you last have a good cry?” she asked. I was surprised by the question. When I thought about it, it had been a while since I’d teared up. I hadn’t realized I was carrying my emotions without giving them the opportunity for release.
A few days later, the tears began to fall. The catalyst was so insignificant, I can’t even remember what made me cry. All I remember is how much better I felt afterwards. Beautiful, painful tears had brought relief.