Answers In Love

Winning at Life God's Way

Why You Can Cry if You Want To

I was still a teenager when I sat in a Sunday communion service irreverently looking around instead of praying. Looking back I don’t think God minded that I looked around because of what I saw.

My eyes fixed on the stately, dignified Mrs. Willis who sat nearby shaking with silent sobs and wiping away a stream of tears. She had recently lost her husband – an important and highly-regarded minister.

I felt sad to witness Mrs. Willis’ display of pain. I also felt a bit uncomfortable. I don’t remember seeing adults cry in church, especially important people like Mrs. Willis. The adults in my church always acted happy on Sunday morning.

Why I Cried in Church

I recall this moment now because two weeks ago I was Mrs. Willis. I sat in church as a mature, dignified professional counselor shaking with silent sobs and wiping away tears.

Our worship leader had just led a spirited rendition of the old chorus This World is Not My Home which means so much to me. I hadn’t heard or sung this chorus in decades so I belted out the words in an emotional way.

Afterwards I began to cry. The song transported me back to the hall in my home-church where our youth-group met. I could see and hear my charismatic big brother opening our meeting as he did every week by leading our spirited group in a high-energy rendition of our theme song, ThisWorld is Not My Home. I loved being there again.

Why I Kept On Crying

As I began to cry I mentally heard my parents say, “Stop your crying now!” I knew my crying could make people around me uncomfortable. I dutifully thought I should stop crying.

I knew I could stop the tears by changing my mental focus. I could read the Bible or the bulletin in my lap or think on the day’s plans. I didn’t change my focus because I didn’t want to to stop remembering. I wanted to stay in the presence of my joyful and very-much alive big brother (who died 15 years ago) as long as I could.

So I quietly took my tears to a stall in the ladies’ room where I continued my silent cry and remembered my brother until the memories grew less vivid and wispy once again. I treasured my brief journey into the past brought on by grief.

4 Truths to Know about Grief

My experience highlights four important points about grief:

1. Grief is normal.

God created us to grieve in response to losses of all kinds. God grieves over sin (Judges 10:16). Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus (John 11:35). Queen Elizabeth defined grief as the price we pay for love.

2. Love is eternal

The love we feel for family and friends doesn’t end when relationships die. Lost love objects live on in our memories and we feel love when we remember them.

Paul noted that love is greater than hope and faith (1 Cor 13;13).  He knew hope and faith will become obsolete when Christ returns but love will live forever (Ps 136:1).

3. Grief never ends

The Kubler-Ross’ theory of grieving introduced in 1969 suggests we pass through 5 stages of grief and then get on with life. Modern thinking rejects this model.

While the intense emotions of grief should diminish over time the goal of grief is not get through it then forget the past. Healthy grieving involves taking the past with us by finding ways to incorporate the meaning and memory of lost relationships into who we are and how we live today.

4. Crying Helps

It’s okay to cry when a wave of grief washes over you. It can happen years after a loss. Crying does not signal weakness or lack of faith. It releases pain and affirms our love of what is lost.

Conclusion

Has grief touched your life lately? Did you get caught off guard like me by an unexpected wave of emotion? How did you react? I hope you didn’t run from your feelings or let a perfectly normal phenomenon worry you.

Waves of grief happen but talk to a mental-health professional if they do not decrease in frequency and intensity over time. Unresolved grief can morph into psychological disorders.

Meanwhile always remember…   it’s your love and you can cry if you want to (shades of Lesley Gore’s #1 hit song for those too young to remember)!

Let me know what you think!

Cheryl

About Cheryl Savageau

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

11 Replies

  1. Laura Jennings

    Well done

    1. Cheryl Savageau

      I know you know Laura! Prayers!

  2. I Come To the Garden will get me like that every time because of my mother. Other songs do this too, usually in relation to how the words identify with whatever is going on with me.

    1. Cheryl Savageau

      Maybe we need a cry closet in church – ha! ha!

  3. Kathy Bond

    Thank you Cheryl❤️ James and I read your thought together in the car. It really means a lot to me and it gives me freedom❤️🙏🏻

    1. Cheryl Savageau

      Yep… grief hits us all!

  4. Kristin F

    It’s interesting, isn’t it, how our crying can make others uncomfortable. I remember crying at a wedding once, only because the music that was played was so beautiful it moved me to tears. I remember crying at HPC once when Jeff Payne was talking about his father who had Altzeimer’s, and my mother had recently been admitted to a nursing home with the same condition. Great post, Cheryl. And I’m sorry about the loss of your brother.

    1. Cheryl Savageau

      Awww, thanks for sharing your thoughts & heart Kristin. Miss you in Greenville!

  5. Summer J

    I’m happy God put me in the bathroom to give you a hug! 😊

    1. Cheryl Savageau

      Me too! You were just the right person!

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