Health & Wellness

Guest Column

Tears Are Good, They Let The Sadness Out

0b02e078fdd65e9faa0e_Mary_Headshot_2016_2.jpg
Mary Robinson, Executive Director, Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss Credits: Mark DeHanes
0b02e078fdd65e9faa0e_Mary_Headshot_2016_2.jpg

Jackie Kennedy and Coretta Scott King were our nation’s role models for mourning in the 1960’s and in the decades since. They were praised for their strength and stoicism, their courage and grace, and rightly so. They were great role models for our nation at a time of great unrest and anxiety, but I would say they were not the role models we needed when it came to grieving our individual losses.

Prior to Mrs. King’s death of ovarian cancer in 2006, she said she regretted not taking the time to grieve and mourn after her husband’s death. She attributed her illness to unresolved and suppressed grief. Her stoicism and strength came at great cost she said. Science bears this assertion out, with research proving how trauma can get stuck in the body -- “the physical effects on the organs go on unabated until they demand notice when they are expressed as illness.” (The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel Van Der Kolk.) Unexpressed and unacknowledged grief eventually manifests in one way or another and the longer it takes to be expressed the more harm can be caused.   

One of the things we’ve noticed at Imagine is how often people apologize when they cry.  Why do we do this? Why do we feel the need to leave the room and hide when we are bereft? Why are we embarrassed to “still be grieving” when it’s been a year since the death of a loved one? There are so many historical and cultural aspects to this complicated question.

Sign Up for E-News

When we think of the construct of masculinity and our directives to our young sons that “boys don’t cry” or “don’t be a cry baby” what we are really doing – inadvertent as it may be – is robbing our sons of their full humanity, of the full depths of their sorrows and the full expressions of their joys. Girls are not immune to this either, as we live in a society that prizes strength over vulnerability, and sees human frailty as a liability. Tears are the expression of this perceived weakness. But what if our tears meant more? What if our vulnerabilities were the seat of our strength?

A couple of years ago, my friend Amy gave me “The World According to Mister Rogers” for Christmas. On the inside flap Mister Rogers’ writes, “People have said, ‘Don’t cry’ to other people for years and years and all it has ever meant is, ‘I’m too uncomfortable when you show your feelings. Don’t cry.’  I’d rather have them say, ‘Go ahead and cry. I’m here to be with you.'”

A little boy attending one of our support groups said to another little boy, “tears are good, they let the sadness out.”  This little boy gave permission to his friend to cry, to freely express his emotions – the good, the bad, the ugly – without judgment or recriminations. That is the simple and perfect wisdom of children: Tears are good!

As I reflect on Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy, I love that this holiday is a day of service, but I almost wish it were also a day of mourning, a day when we all had permission to cry.  For everyone we've ever loved who is no longer on the planet. In that spirit of loving vulnerability I’d like to say, Happy Birthday, Dr. King.

Imagine is a free year-round children’s grief support center that serves NJ children age 3-18 and young adults 18-30 who are grieving the death of a parent or sibling, or who are living with a parent of sibling with a life-altering illness. Imagine also provides grief education and training for thousands of teachers, parents, coaches, youth and other adults annually.  

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Guest Column.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Sleep out at Covenant House

June 18, 2018

I can enjoy the same movies over and over like it were the first time to see them.  My kids roll their eyes at this.  Well, many unimaginable things happen as you become a certain age, and you tend to learn to accept those things graciously as gift.   But I remember the movie “The Blind Side.”  Until I saw that movie, I didn’t know homeless children ...

Moms Helping Moms Foundation Receives Overwhelming Support from Community to Help Mothers this Mother’s Day

June 20, 2018

Mother’s Day is often celebrated by showering the women in our lives with beautiful flowers, heartfelt cards, and taking them on special outings to show them how much they mean to us. Yet, for many low-income mothers living in our community, they struggle each day to provide the basics for their babies.

Diapers are a necessity yet one in three families in the United States lack an ...

New Providence Recreation Offers Adult Summer Programs

New Providence Recreation is accepting registrations for adult evening and daytime programs that run June 25th – August 31st.  Most of the eight to nine-week sessions are under $65; several programs are free for NP residents!  All levels of fitness and those returning to exercise are welcome.

Programs are offered starting at 6 a.m.. If you are seeking weight loss, core body ...

Summit Community Blood Drive is Sunday; First 50 donors Will Get a Free Union Theater Movie Pass

The weather may have just started to warm up, but New Jersey Blood Services (NJBS) is already urging the public to donate blood as we head into the summer months.  With schools closing and vacations scheduled, less people donate blood from June through August but transfusions are still needed for local patients.   

“We’re especially thankful to our dedicated donors ...

Union County College Hires New Dean of Humanities

CRANFORD – Dr. Melissa R. Sande is the new Dean of Humanities for Union County College. Dr. Sande joined Union in the fall of 2013 as a full-time instructor of English. She has more than ten years of teaching experience and has previously served as a program coordinator, writing tutor, and an adjunct instructor.

As the Dean of Humanities, Dr. Sande will be responsible for the supervision ...

Watchung Borough Mayor and Council Approve Affordable Housing Settlement

June 9, 2018

WATCHUNG, NJ -The Watchung Borough Council voted on Thursday night  to settle its third round affordable housing obligation mandated by the state of New Jersey. Watchung Borough’s immunity from builder's remedy lawsuits  expires on June 30.

 Mayor Stephen Pote was forced to cast the deciding vote after the council deadlocked at 3-3.

Scotch Plains Mayor Al Smith Attends Gun Safety Bills Signing Ceremony with Gov. Murphy in Trenton

June 14, 2018

TRENTON, NJ -- Mayor Al Smith attended a gun safety package bill signing ceremony at the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex in Trenton on Wednesday with Governor Phil Murphy. Mayor Smith joined a bipartisan group of local and state elected officials, as well as members of Moms Demand Action of Union County, at the event. 

“As a leader in Sandy Hook Promise, I was happy to accept the ...

What's Hot and What's Not

Summer is a great time to take a step back, sip a cool beverage, and take a look at what’s going on in the world of college admissions.  Departments use the summer to evaluate how their year went and plan on any changes they want to make for the fall.  Did they over-enroll? Under-enroll?  What application materials were useful to them?  Which were redundant or time ...

How to Design Your Ideal Retirement

Would you like to design your ideal retirement? Where do you begin? First of all, what does retirement mean to you? If you’re in a relationship, does retirement mean the same to you as it does to your partner? Do you know if your “ideal retirement” is affordable or just a pipe dream?

In past generations, retirement planning didn’t involve very much. You stopped work ...

Cool Ways to Save Money This Summer

As the summer temperatures rise, home cooling costs rise as well. But there are ways to help save money without sweating the heat:

To increase your cooling system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, get it checked out for summer.  A technician will clean the condenser, make sure you have the optimal amount of refrigerant, and ensure the airflow over the coil is ...