Researchers have suggested what many caregivers have already figured out on their own: Sometimes there is nothing like a good cry to make you feel better. While society often callously considers shedding tears to be a sign of weakness, I believe it is cathartic and a healthy expression of emotion.
Over the last three and a half years I have openly shared my experience of grief after losing Ariel z”l to suicide and my Abba to old age. But I have learned that for me, writing about loss and tears and people watching me cry, especially while praying in a Synagogue, is fundamentally, a totally different experience.
I never used to cry and was often very insensitive when Devorah cried, especially while watching TV. When “McDreamie” was killed in a car accident on Gray’s Anatomy, Devorah couldn’t stop crying and I rather coldly said, he is alive and just signed a very good contract for a movie! Now, I cry watching Rookie, NCSI – and don’t even get me going when I think about “This Is Us!
I’ve moved; but up to a point.
Writing about loss, bereavement and suicide has morphed from something therapeutic into a mission to reduce the stigma of mental illness and to help people learn about the grieving process – both for people who are in mourning and, for people trying to comfort others.
But, crying is something highly personal – at least for me. If I cry in public with people watching, I feel invaded, vulnerable and weak. And it is so against my persona to appear weak. Writing empowers me. People watching me cry makes me feel uncomfortable. I am not saying this is good, the right way or, true for other people. It is just true for me. And, I have learned over the past three years that we all mourn differently.
This morning while I was praying during Rosh HaShana services on zoom I selected the option to “stop the video” so fellow congregants saw a profile photo instead of Devorah holding me as I cried throughout the Unatana Tokef Prayer. That prayer used to be a pleasant experience. Now, it is an excruciating one. Therefore, it was comforting not to be observed as I cried, even while I was connected to a communal experience.
During the past three and a half years, I have learned how to cry without feeling weak. That is movement. Nonetheless, I still need/want to cry alone or with Devorah. I need to move at my own pace.
May next year be one free from Covid 19 and with fewer reasons to cry. But if I do cry on zoom, I probably will still activate the “stop video” option!
Shana Tova U’Mevurechet ️ ,