Over the last couple of weeks at work, I have witnessed many beautiful moments—a grand-daughter (grown) caring for her grand-mother with a smile on her face, a son tenderly kissing his ailing father on the forehead, a family join hands in prayer around the bedside of their actively dying loved one, and laughter echoing through the room as memories of times past are shared. In each moment, there were tears. One patient said to me as she was crying, “I’m sorry. I’m such a cry baby”. I wonder why we are sometimes afraid of our tears. I have often thought of them as the partner of laughter. Tears are a form of expression…tears speak.
Tears fall for many reasons in our lives. Sometimes we cry tears of joy—joy at the birth of our child, a graduation, a marriage, a happy memory. Tears often fall down our face because of a sadness inside that is so overwhelming it can only be expressed through tears—news that life is changing in challenging ways, a fight with a friend, the injustice that pervades our earth, the death of someone we love deeply. Sometimes they start slowly—the one small tear rolling down our cheek. Sometimes they gush out. Sometimes they stay locked inside. Tears can be expected, or catch us off guard. Sometimes, they come silently and other times, with a choking sob whose sound reverberates through the space we occupy. Whatever the case may be—one thing is for certain—In the words of Washington Irving,..
“There is a sacredness in tears.
They are not the mark of weakness, but of power.
They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues.
They are messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love”