Do you ever cry alone? I do. There’s something shameful about hiding the soul’s tears. Happy tears? Oh, I don’t mind shedding those in front of complete strangers in the checkout line. But painful, aching or sad tears often fall in the shower or when I’m safely tucked in bed.
Why is it that when we are in the most pain we retreat into ourselves? For me, I think it’s because I can’t bear risking the reaction of someone else making my pain worse. What if they laugh at me? Or tell me I’m overreacting? Or I bare my soul and they respond with the empty and quintessential, ‘wow’?
Crying was a daily affair for me in the months after my daughters died. The bags under my red eyes made it impossible to hide my soul’s pain. One night as I lay in bed silently weeping, my then husband noticed my soaked pillow and asked if I had been crying. “I can’t stop”, I shamefully admitted. He climbed in the bed, held me and told me he never wanted me to cry alone again. Before that moment, I never thought about the difference. Crying alone…crying with witnesses.
That night as I slept for the first time in weeks, I had dreams about randomly bursting out in tears in the strangest places. Scenario:
It’s summertime so I decide to stop for a snowball. The line is long and I happily wait ten minutes before I order my favorite-black cherry and blackberry stuffed with ice cream. The guy behind the counter asks, “Condensed milk”? My eyes burn and tears immediately start running down my face. Shamed, I too begin to run away. I hear the guy in the distance, “Ma’am, ma’am! What about your snowball”?
I soon became an expert at holding in and concealing my tears. The timing couldn’t have been better because the phone calls, emails, and late night consoling quickly declined. Everyone around me felt much better as they thought that I had made it through the storm.
Truth is my sobbing showers became longer while my time with family and friends became shorter. I had almost completely isolated myself before I realized what was going on. I was grieving…alone.
Thankfully, my sister Khayriyyah referred me to an amazing grief counselor. He helped me discover healthier coping skills and social techniques which allowed me to heal.
I pulled through and was able to return to my previous joyous (yet different) self.
The holiday season can be difficult for those who are grieving or have recently experienced a loss. I urge us all to be sensitive to those around us. Reach out to your loved ones and friends. Let them know you don’t want them to cry alone.
If you are experiencing grief or sadness, here are some tips that may help:
• GIVE YOURSELF A PASS- respect your limits. If you are not physically or emotionally up for something, it’s best to decline.
•DISTRACT, DISTRACT, DISTRACT- find something enjoyable (but healthy) to distract from heavy thoughts. For me it was baking…and sampling. *smile*
•ACCEPT THE HELP OF OTHERS- this is hard for many (including me) but trust that people who love you want and NEED to help you.
Finally, remember to BREATHE. You are loved and breath is life. #liveinlove