Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The ministry of tears

When my sister died in 1993, I had three children, ages three, almost two, and a wee little three month old baby.  They were each so little and all so in need of a functional mother.  At one point in the days after Liz's death, a friend of mine shared a concern:  "I don't think you are crying enough."  At the time, I was hurt by her assessment.  I felt pressured to do this grief thing right, and the idea of being a failure, on top of all the pain of losing my sister, was horrible.

The thing is I was convinced that if I started crying I might never stop, and then what would happen to my dear children?  What if I could not care for them?  And so it is true:  I did not cry enough.

As I look back over the last seventeen years, I realize that what began in 1993 as a way of surviving and caring for my children has become a bad habit, an unhealthy thing.  I have been unable to cry in a cleansing, cry-until-you-are-done sort of way since those dark days of 1993.  That is way too long.

This last week has been very difficult for several reasons.  In my distress, I reached out to a friend of mine, a monk I had met through friends, and he sent this advice to me: 

"Shed tears, lots of them."

As I read those words, something in me cracked, broke, and opened wide.  Tears are flowing, and it is a very good thing.

The ministry of tears, my own tears, is a gift I didn't know to ask for.  It was a freedom that had so long been denied that I could not offer it to myself, but it was a great gift to be given permission to simply cry.  Now in sorrow and in worry I can feel the balm of the Holy Spirit washing over me, healing me, bringing me hope in the midst.  It is so good to be crying again.

In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.  
Psalm 18:6

What do blue bottles have to do with tears?  See my post here.


Sandy C. said...


Cyber hugs and prayers for your ministry of tears. I heard sad news yesterday involving a family we are close to who have already suffered much pain in recent years. As I prayed for them, the tears unexpectedly flowed and I was thankful to offer them along with the prayers.

I love this line in the Memorare:

"mourning and weeping in this vale of tears".



elizabeth said...

Yes. Tears are so important. So glad you have been given them; it took me a long time to learn to cry too. Hugs and prayers today. and Memory Eternal to your sister.

JSD said...

Beautiful, Diane.

Yes, last week was hard. Still is. But what a comfort is that bottle for those tears.

stephseef said...

your writing always moves me.
i join you in the weeping.

Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master,
Though the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;
When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

--i always thought this hymn was silly when i heard it on 'Little House on the Prairie'. Now that I have known grief personally, I can't stop singing it.

Love you, Di. Honored to pray.


Les said...

My daughter lost her only sister five years ago. I don't think she's cried enough. I wish she could, but she's only just now 27 and not worried about her own well-being. I may send her a link to your post...but I'll wait until after the holidays. It's a difficult time of year for us...

I'm sending loving thoughts to you, Di. Beautiful post.

Kathie said...

Thinking about you, praying for you, and sending love,


Student of History said...

Love you my friend.

tonia said...

oh dear friend...and to think you were here,so close! i wish i could have come given you a hug and listened over coffee. i am adding you to my prayers today and hoping your time with M is restoring your heart. sending such love.