Stop the Video and Cry Privately

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 ️ ,

About the Author
Meir Charash, originally from Fair Lawn New Jersey, made Aliyah to Israel 40 years ago. In 1979, Meir acquired a B.S. in Business Management, majoring in organizational management, from Boston University and a MSW in 1984 in Group and Community Work from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work (WSSW) at Yeshiva University. Meir worked as a community worker in Beit Shemesh and in Jerusalem, was the Director of the Israel Office of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia for 19 years providing fiduciary oversight to donor funds and facilitating Israel – Diaspora relations. Meir’s expertise is in the area of community building, fundraising and organizational behavior. In addition to supervising Wurzweiler social students, Meir worked as Faculty Advisor and Coordinator of the Israel Block Program from 2010 to 2017. Meir is married with three children and resides in Armon HaNatziv, Jerusalem. He is a certified fitness trainer, Thai massage therapist and an avid mountain bike rider having participated for nine years in the Alyn Charity Bike Ride for the Children of the Alyn Rehabilitation Hospital and in two races, the “Epic,” and “Sovev Arava”. Meir served in the armored forces for a year and a half and 15 years in reserve duty.
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