I have never been afraid to cry. A good cry has always made me feel better no matter the situation. Over the past four years though I have noticed how uncomfortable it can make people to feel intense pain or to even see it. I’ve watched as people hid behind their sunglasses, bit their lip, apologized, or even walked away. Why is it that in this country showing emotion is so scary?
My father is Lebanese and I remember so clearly seeing him cry for the first time. I was probably 8 or 9. His father, my Jidi, unexpectedly passed away. My dad was at work when my mom found out. That evening 5 or 6 relatives that lived locally came over to wait for my dad to get home so they could tell him. I remember my dad walking in and then I remember him sobbing, he went upstairs and sat on the edge of the bed and cried. I peeked in his room and I remember it scared me to see my dad so sad and suffering so much. But I also think it was important to see him so vulnerable. Since then I have always wondered why people in different cultures receive death and grief so differently.
I admit that I love some of the traditions like wearing all black for a year or even years after a loved one dies, I love that people are free to express their pain, they wail and fall to the ground and no one gives it a second thought.
My first instinct when Eliza passed away was to do just that, scream and fall to the ground. I remember how much this alarmed Aaron. He looked at me and said “Aimee it will be ok, get up”. But why? Why did he want me to get up so badly? Why couldn’t I show my pain without making him uncomfortable? Why is it so hard to see someone losing control in their grief?
When children are little what do we do when they come to us crying? We tell them “don’t cry your fine”. Why do we say that? Why do we discount their feelings of sadness and pain? If they laugh we don’t tell them to stop so why is this emotion so different. Why don’t we tell our children, “I know that hurts and I’m so sorry you’re sad” Why do we always try and make them immediately feel better when they are sad? Why do we try and make them forget? Why can’t we just sit in it with them?
When I think of all the lessons I’ve learned since losing Eliza I think this surprised me the most. Grief makes people uncomfortable, men and women alike want to skip over the most painful parts of life. I saw it; I watched it everyday. I saw the fear in peoples eyes, a fear that they would say something to make make me cry. I knew that they wanted to do anything to make me forget for just a moment. It was all well intended but I didn’t want to feel better, I didn’t want to be fine, and I didn’t want to forget. I wanted to wail and pound my fists on the ground. I wanted everyone who saw me to be ok with my pain. I wanted to wear black everyday until I didn’t.
There is nothing weak about showing your pain, it’s actually quite the opposite. To show your suffering is powerful. To show your love for someone in a completely honest way is profound. So maybe instead of trying to feel better we should just feel. We should lose control if we need to. We should take off our sunglasses and show people how much we lost, and that will be the moment where everyone can honestly see just how much we loved.
"They will raise their voice and cry bitterly over you; they will sprinkle dust on their heads and roll in ashes" ~Ezekeil 27:30-32