The Merits of a Good Cry
Several mornings ago, I went through my wake-up routine: I put on some workout clothes and completed some gentle yoga, prayer and meditation. My prayer incorporates a list of people who have asked me to pray for them, as well as people I have chosen to add because I was aware of challenges they have been experiencing. Most mornings, I just light my candles, recite the names, and speak my prayer:
May the sick recover from illness and the deceased move easily toward their peace. May those who are emotionally close to the end find some comfort, rest, and strength to follow each day as they can. May all of us engage in self-care and be more patient with ourselves and each other as this social distancing continues. - Amen.
Now, most mornings, I go through this process with no notable incidents. But on this particular day, as I began to recite the names of my friend and her mother whom she had lost in the past few months, I began to cry. No, to bawl. My body was shaking. But even as I was crying, I came to realize that this was not specifically about the people whose names I had just attempted to speak. They were part of it, sure. But, as my foster teen had told me recently, I had been holding a lot of stress and tension within my body. The yoga helped my body to release some of it, and it just happened to manifest during my daily recitation.
This was a cathartic moment for me. I cried for several minutes, during which I felt my emotional strain gradually release. I was glad to be free of some of the pain I had been keeping. Crying is a way for our bodies to respond to pain, joy, and other emotions. When our cries are kept inside, whether through our conscious efforts or without our knowledge, all of that emotion just gets stuck and affects the body.
I have to admit, over the last several months I have had my cries stuck quite a bit. The first time I remember this happening in recent memory was when my aunt passed. I experienced a pain in my chest, which I correctly recognized as a cry that was stuck. Few things are more upsetting than when you know you have to cry but you just can't seem to make it happen. I felt the same way when my friend's mother passed and when my grandmother passed. I have felt like crying more times during the last eight months than I did during the year I found out I had to have brain surgery. Well, maybe it's a tie.
We have had so much thrown at us as a people that I can imagine that more people than would like to admit are holding their tears in. I felt like something was wrong with me when I didn't cry when I "should have." I had to be kind to myself and remember that grieving is not something which can be measured as better or worse based on our actions or lack thereof. This post is not an attempt to shame anyone; quite the contrary. This post is meant to remind you that it's okay if you aren't able to let your tears flow. Be patient with yourselves. Take care of your bodies, minds and spirits. Don't shame yourselves. And when the tears do come, I hope that you experience the release within your bodies, minds, and spirits as a wonderful catharsis.