Learning How to Cry

Graham with Treena in London 1958
Jul 22, 2016

Learning How to Cry

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Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world

Question #32
Rite of Passage Eleven –Off to the Unknown–
1958 -I am twenty-four years old

Q The advice to be “silent” about painful issues can often be a mistake. Did you ever benefit by “talking-it-through” regardless of the pain?

Be careful about the advice you are given by often well-meaning professionals, especially when it may entail, “Just act as though it never happened, don’t dwell on past loss –start looking ahead to more positive opportunities.”

This was the advice given by our admittedly older family physician back in 1958. It followed Treena’s miscarriage at seven and a half months, a baby boy she had privately named Jonathan, we had yet to arrive on a mutually agreed upon name.

The miscarriage happened suddenly and yet was not without due warnings. Our life, as general managers of the Royal Ascot hotel, next to the world famous racecourse (remember My Fair Lady?) was filled with sixteen hour days and seldom a days break. I was doing the best I could to measure up to my advancement following my dad’s move to a new post that left me holding the reins

There was no explanation as to why we lost our baby –just the advice to be ‘silent’!

In our modern world such a suggestion would be treated with dismay but those were the words of wisdom in the ‘fifties’. I immediately began to plan our way out of the loss –to somehow leave it behind? My ‘plunge ahead’ left Treena without the loving comfort she craved (but never did reveal) in the midst of the moving on that would take us to the other end of the world!

Graham with Treena in London 1958

With Treena in London 1958

So…what about now?

During these early years of our marriage, from twenty-one to twenty-five years of age, I was eager to provide for my family and grasped at every opportunity that came my way to earn that income by doing whatever ‘brought home the bacon’.

Of course I loved Treena and our adorable Tessa (born on the actual day of our first anniversary) but, and it was a big but, I confused ‘doing’ with ‘being there’ for them.

Oh how much I needed some good advice from an older man. My dad was another ‘doer’ and in the stereotypical British stiff upper lip tradition, wasn’t much of a role model. I was an only child without family example and in my ignorance I began to plan upon plan upon plan…my way to a better future (there is a way that seems right unto man…)

With the benefit of hindsight I see this moment of failure to make a tender loving contribution to my darling as the start point of many years of misunderstanding her real needs. All of which culminated in what might have wound up in the failure of our marriage!

My friends…love weeps with those who weep and if you find it hard to cry –go out and find someone who can. Discover what comfort can mean to those in distress and stop planning YOUR way out of your loved ones deep need for your love!

This week I read Treena’s poem From Hills of Joy

10 Comments

  1. Caren Fisher Says: July 23, 2016 6:51 am

    Words of wisdom so aptly stated! Thank you for sharing

  2. Ira Says: July 23, 2016 8:33 am

    I had spent a great deal of time in a relationship with a person who said that same thing. When problems came up, they would be dismissed, and never spoken about again. In the long run that’s when instead of us working out challenges that we instead were forced to let these things build up inside. Not a pretty sight.

  3. Gary Gillman Says: July 23, 2016 10:29 am

    Another excellent post. I sense a theme, of the general British emotional restraint which seemed to characterize the country from Victorian times (did it precede that? Not sure).

    This contributed though to great things, victory in war, economic growth post-WW II. The downside was an emotional toll often at individual level. With cultural changes, eg. rock and roll, Princess Diana, novelists such as the Angry Young Men earlier, things started to change. Your own show c. 1969 was an example.

    All was for the good save (IMO) if our culture becomes too “therapeutic”.

    Balance is needed.

  4. Sally Andrews Says: July 23, 2016 11:41 am

    How true. So often in my life, pains have been suppressed and that stiff upper lip goes on as I forge on. Now, I find that forging on simply let them dwell within me unresolved, grieved over and became a little boiling pot within. Learning to cry and especially to cry with someone else is so very therapeutic, and I think it’s a valuable lesson for us all to allow ourselves to cry with someone when they need to cry. To share their sadness and allow them to feel ok to feel sad. To me, having sadness and feeling it fully allows me to believe there will be great gladness to come and I will appreciate it so much more, especially when I invite God into it.

  5. Sandra Tertullien Says: July 23, 2016 2:53 pm

    Both of my parents pass away 6 months of each others there was a big hole in my heat i cried so much a good friend of mine told me time to morn time to heal and my friend was right all i remember give love and good advice when i was growing up . I don’t pray much maybe i don’t know how to communicate with God but one thing for sure i know God is in my heart.

  6. Graham Says: July 23, 2016 4:07 pm

    Sally et al…I can sense such sadness all around me at this time in our nation’s history. There is a great need for kindness and respect. I have just got back from giving a short speech (64 minutes less than Donald’s acceptance speech) in which I suggested that when we vote our conscience (as indeed we should) in November, that we take that same moment to make a commitment to B.I.S.I, which means “BEYOND IMMEDIATE SELF INTEREST”. In doing so I am declaring my willingness to look out for my neighbors and put them first and meet their needs according to my ability. Our politics have become so unkind and disrespectful that a great opportunity has opened up for each of us to do what we can to be seen for who, as citizens, we really want to be.

    Let us weep with those that weep…who knows, the time will come when we can rejoice together?

  7. Marina Says: July 23, 2016 8:18 pm

    I am the mother of five children. Two of them, I was able to love, dote on, hug, educate, and watch grow up into the wonderful adults they are today. Three of my children I was never able to do this with, but I love them dearly as well. I miscarried them late in my pregnancies with them.

    I am American, and in the 80’s and early 90’s you were not to speak of miscarriages. One of my doctors who grew tired of my wimpering, told me to stop crying about spilt milk. You didn’t have a funeral, could not name them (although I named them anyways) and you didn’t upset other people with your loss. I always felt this was cruel. It wasn’t like each and every day I was walking around telling and retelling the story over and over. It would be in a quiet moment, when a friend was with me, when grief would still strike me. They would ask what was wrong, and then I would tell. Only a few would understand. It has been 31 years since I lost my first one. You learn to live with the loss, but you never completely get over the loss. What helped me a lot were my tears.

    I have always considered tears to be helpers. Helpers that help you heal. So when denied that healing, for whatever reason, sort of puts the brakes on a person being able to heal. I share that in hopes that more healing can happen, instead of people trying to shush the tears. Some tears happen when you see others cry. You can be helping that person heal more, by crying too. It helps with growing compassion and empathy towards others. Often you still have things that hurt that need more healing.

    With all that said, I will never understand why it is not alright to cry in public. I understand people have reasons, but I will never understand those reasons as much as I understand healing and showing that we are human and not perfect. Not all tears are sad ones either, I have had many tears of joy and relief too.

  8. Lynn Severance Says: July 24, 2016 1:20 am

    Tears. They are gifts for often feelings run so deep (both joys and sorrows) that no other expression will expel the feelings. I have cried
    alone and at times with others. There is a lot to be gained in sharing tears with another – it brings a bond of intimacy and can be a time long remembered for the healing it brings. I have known such healing times alone in tears with the Lord and those times, too, bring a deeper intimacy between us.

    The loss of a child through miscarriage or shortly after birth is a loss I have not known but a loss I have walked through with others. I was only two years old when my mother lost her second son 3 hours after he was born. I grew up knowing I had a brother in heaven. I also grew up in a home where that event was never talked about between my parents. First of all, my father was overseas (WWII) when 3 of his children were born and in military training when his 4th child was born. He never was present during my mother’s pregnancies – obviously was on leave to be with her long enough for such pregnancies to occur. The generation of that era were not prone to talk about feelings – at least the men were not (as Graham expressed about his own father). And I know in my own home of origin, my mother would share her feelings but not with my father. It was a strange dynamic.

    I am grateful that times have changed as there is more openness now in our culture “to be open”. I have been with young couples who have gone through a miscarriage and shared in that grief together (and eventually where appropriate, with others).

    Any loss needs the gift or relationship – another coming alongside. And it also needs a touch from God who knows the deepest places needing his healing touch.

  9. Jean N Sozio Says: July 24, 2016 11:20 pm

    The greatest discovery of my life was my experience at an altar call. I was raised Catholic – and devoutly so. But, when my life was in crisis and spinning out of control, I had the fortunate opportunity through the witness of Born Again Pentecostals in my family to enter an Assembly of God church and be summoned by a force within to go to the altar and weep. Weeping is such a release and so cleansing. To fall on your knees before God regardless of who is watching can be the greatest step forward you will ever experience in your life. It was for me. I left the Catholic church because of such. All churches need to do this – summon people to offer their pain at the altar and weep. Only Christ can sweeten the bitter water of tears on the altar of sacrifice. One of the most beautiful scriptures is that Christ “saves all your tears in a bottle” – and I add – makes a blessing out of each and every one. Truly He does. “Those who sow in tears will come again rejoicing bringing their sheaves with them”. It had to be a horrendous ordeal to lose a child so late in term. As prophesied (Thessalonians and Revelation), in the last days the earth will undergo birth pangs as a woman in childbirth. You know how God is suffering seeing His child, the earth, in such turmoil and unable to subdue it. As the time gets closer for Jesus return the birth pangs get stronger and harder. As we see our society sadly deteriorating we must take joy in the hope of Christ returning soon.

  10. Kerryn Says: July 30, 2016 8:14 am

    Thanks for your vulnerability in sharing Graham. Many would have been given that same professional advice & would have felt that it’s the best thing to do to silence the pain & tears. How sad, but it was the best they could do at the time! I’m thankful that I had a Dad who would cry when something was sad, or beautiful, or touched his heart in some way. I seem to do that too & will often dissolve into tears when God speaks something special into my heart. It’s usually a sign of the Lord wanting my attention & my heart about something. Likewise my beloved hubby is prone to tears & is not afraid to cry….. though he may joke during a show where he has a tear that “some dust just got in my eye!” He’s often spoken publically through tears, which I believe is a gift that he feels so deeply & isn’t afraid to express it.
    I’m thankful that I’ve never suffered the tragic circumstances of losing a child, in pregnancy or beyond. The deep pain of friends losing a child is unbelievably painful, so I can’t even begin to imagine the deep pain that a parent suffers. May God give us all deep love to weep with those who are weeping & allow them to heal through tears.

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