Normally, I am not a person who emotes very easily. I generally don’t cry. I can name the times I’ve cried before Kim died. I’m just not overly emotional.
However, real loss has changed me. I cried every day for almost seven months after Kim’s death. And the tears turned out to be a gift. Mine wasn’t messy or out-of-control fits of crying. I’ve described it to some as simply a weepiness.
“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” Psalm 56:8
I have learned the gradual and daily release has been healthy for me. As I embraced tears, I began to see a couple of scenarios playing out. First, there was protected or planned time to mourn. I arranged time to process my grief, and the emotion that came with it simply flowed. The protected time was usually in the mornings. And then, second, there were times when I had unplanned waves of tears. I had to learn to be responsive. It was like an assault. Ready or not.
There’s a key lesson here: To drain the serious injury brought to your soul by loss, you must embrace and plan for tears. You’re draining a wound.
When it came to the first lesson, intentional mourning, I began my day quietly. I protected the mornings as much as possible. I read books to help me face grief. Erich Bridges, who had lost his wife to cancer, gave me a devotional book on grief. I read multiple devotional entries each day. I read other books. One particular book, A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss, was exceptionally helpful. I’d read my Bible. I’d pray. I’d speak conversationally to God. Sometimes I could only groan.
The second lesson I learned was to embrace the unplanned waves of tears. Planning intentional mourning does not prevent unplanned interruptions by grief. It’s the little things. A smell. A sight. A memory. A connection with a friend or one of my children. It may flood your mind at the most unexpected times, and the tears just flow uncontrollably. Ready-or-not-out-of-the-blue tears. And it’s okay. In fact, it’s healthy. A very real wound is being drained.
I learned to receive intentional and unplanned mourning as a gift of preventative medicine. On a long, unwanted journey the slow draining of the wound of grief is a sign of healing.
I also noticed that writing helped me process my grief and facilitate my healing. I wrote to remember. I wrote to celebrate life with Kim. I wrote to mourn. I wrote to heal. I wrote to grow through my loss. I wrote to live. I wrote to grieve but not without hope. I wrote about my grief to process any necessary repentance. Grief removes the veneer of self-sufficiency. I wrote to worship.
I learned not to be afraid of tears because a wound such as the loss of love has to be drained.
“You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure.” Psalm 80:5