A Husband Dies
She had spent the vast majority of her life with this man. In fact, it was hard for her to remember a time that she wasn’t married to him. Almost all of her life she had been in relationship with him and now he was gone. Death by cancer. Now she was faced with trying to live with the new normal of living without him – and every fiber of her essence was grieving: heart, soul, mind, and body. Yet, as she sat there before me crying, she uttered those two words that I’ve heard a thousand times when people cry: “I’m sorry.”
Why do people say that? This woman just lost her lifelong soul mate. So why apologize for the tears? Well, most of us are taught that we should be in control of ourselves and our emotions. Crying, by our culture’s definition, demonstrates that we are out of control. So when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with another person by letting our tears flow, it feels like a failure on our part for not being able to “hold it together” like we are supposed to.
But, I think, there is another dynamic at play for some when they apologize for their tears. Some simply do not want to “burden” other people. The thought behind this, of course, is that by sharing their grief and displaying their mourning openly, they are placing their burdens on the other individual when they really should be the “all-American individualist” our culture tells us we have to be.
My point here is that apologizing for crying should not be the norm. From my perspective, the only time you should feel sorry is if you don’t cry when you feel like crying. Instinctively, you already know that holding it in is unhealthy and can lead to other unhealthy effects. So if you are a crier, let it all out and stuff the apologies.
“But I’m not a crier. Does that mean I’m heartless? Will I not be able to grieve properly?”
No. Some people are expressive in their grief through tears and others are not. Neither is right or wrong. As human beings, we are so unique, it shouldn’t come as a shock to us that we all mourn our grief differently.
So what about you non-criers out there? Well, there are other ways you can outwardly express your grief through mourning. Here are just a few creative ways, I have witnessed recently:
Colleen was close with her dad, real close. So it was no surprise that his first birthday following his death was going to be a difficult one. So Colleen mourned her grief by creating this incredible video:
Sara wanted her 23 year old granddaughter to never be forgotten for the incredible person she was. So as a way to mourn her grief, she created a scrapbook of pictures of Brittany’s life.
Dovie White liked to write poetry and did so beautifully. But in my opinion, the most beautiful lines she ever wrote were about the death of her son. Here are just a few lines:
The time was sweet that we had here, and to my heart you was so dear.
Your place will always vacant be, but some sweet day your smiling face I’ll see.
I love you dear, I miss you still. No one on earth, your place can fill.
And to me you will always be the dear sweet boy of yesterday.
Trevor liked to skateboard, but never did he skateboard so much as when his cousin died of complications from Cystic Fibrosis. So, to mourn his grief, he rode and he rode and he rode and his grief on the inside surfaced to the outside with every kick of the board.
My second child was miscarried and, as a remembrance, our church planted a bush in its yard. For many years while living in that city, I would take a cup of water and pour it over the bush as I, in my faith beliefs, believe I will meet this child face to face some day.
These are just five creative ways to mourn. There are many more, of course. But truth be told, each of us has to mourn in our own way that fits with our unique personality and history. If you are a crier, cry. If not, find another way to mourn. Just make sure that you find your way and don’t hold that grief in. It’s the only healthy way to get through it.