For those of us who find ourselves on the grief journey, I’m sure you’ve wondered if the tears would ever stop. For a time, I didn’t even bother to put on makeup, especially mascara. Why bother? It would only be a waste of product and energy.
How many times did you think the tears were all dried up, and yet out of nowhere, and for no apparent reason, they began rolling down your cheeks? In case no one has told you, this is perfectly normal in grief and it’s OK.
There was a time I only allowed myself to cry when I was alone, in the sanctuary of my own home. Although I felt a freedom to do so within the safety of my loved ones, I didn’t want to always be a “downer.” I had imposed an unspoken behavioral expectation and time limit on myself. I tried to appear stronger on the outside, than I actually felt on the inside. And truth be told, I didn’t want my husband and son to see me continually falling apart.
The moment my husband left the house to run an errand, I’m sure he wasn’t even at the end of the driveway when I would be drawn to what remained of my daughter. Ashes. Photos. A beautiful candle that had been gifted to me by a dear friend, that held a special childhood picture of Melanie on it. I would pick up the beautiful container that held her ashes, cradling it in my arms and hugging it closely to my chest, as the tears fell, and the sobs escaped from within. It was and still is my only way to give Melanie the hug I so long to give.
It was during those times when I would allow myself to release all the pent-up sadness and missing of my girl, in a way I would not allow myself to do otherwise. As I held her close, oh, the conversations I would have with her. Then, I would cry out to the Lord to heal this broken heart of mine.
Does God allow our loved ones to see us and hear us? I wonder, does she know how much I miss her? Does she know how I wish things were different and that she was here with us? It’s about the time I begin asking myself these questions when this next thought crosses my mind…
My girl is at peace and in heaven. She’s in a place where there is no hurt, no disease, no sadness, no shame, no hardship, and no tears.
After many months into the grief journey my grief counselor told me I no longer had to be strong. It was as if I’d been given permission to fully grieve without taking on the care of what others may think of me.
I always considered myself to be a strong woman. As a single mom for many years, you develop a strength and backbone simply to survive. Back then I couldn’t afford the luxury of dissolving into a bucket of tears if something went wrong, as it oftentimes did. Perhaps that’s where this came from. So being given permission to let it go, was like removing the chains that I’d wrapped myself in.
Did you know that tears are actually healthy? Crying for long periods of time releases oxytocin and endorphins. These feel-good chemicals can help ease both physical and emotional pain. Once the endorphins are released, your body may go into somewhat of a numb stage. The oxytocin can give you a sense of calm or well-being.
My friends, if you are like me and trying to walk this hard road of grief with all the strength you can muster, I encourage you to stop holding back your tears. They are healing. They are powerful. They are not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of all the love in your heart for the one whom your heart loves and longs for. Our tears truly are a pathway to the healing of our heart.