Grief is a tricky little bugger! She creeps up quietly and then hits fiercely: Wham, whoosh, bang, ouch!

I spent the last couple of months being aware and alert for possible signs of grief: feeling especially tired, antisocial, not having much of an appetite, sleeping or unable to sleep… and I have been doing quite fine and not succumbing to the tight band of grief that has bound my heart in the past. I became a bit complacent and actually thought maybe I was done with grieving and getting on with things. And then, darn! My heart started thumping, I had bleary vision, almost passed out several times, and I scared myself. I wasn’t sure if I was back into having old heart problems or having an anxiety attack.

As it turns out, it was neither. It was my grief, reminding me to stay aware. I don’t know why I can’t just cry like most people do when they are feeling loss or sorrow, or when change happens and takes me further down the garden path into uncertainty. Instead of crying, all those feelings seem to go straight to my heart.

What I am learning is grieving lasts as long as it lasts and is done whatever way your unique self does it. Compassion. Remember when I wrote, sometime ago, about learning to have compassion for yourself? Well, there you are. Blaming myself for prolonged grief, or for putting my sadness into my heart rather than into tears, is not a good idea. It scares me when I do that. And it doesn’t help me release the toxins in my body that need desperately to be let go via tears. Crying is cleansing. It flushes toxins out of the body.

Tears are a good thing; they are the pearls of sadness and loss. The stress of held back tears builds up in your body and must go somewhere. Mine goes to my heart. Where does yours go?

I don’t know when I learned to not cry. I used to be able to do it just fine. I used to cry with Clo. But I have lied to myself and told me that no one and no place is safe enough to be vulnerable enough to cry without Clo. It’s hard to admit that Clo is the only one I can cry with these days. I need to learn how to change that. We all knew how to cry at some time in our life though many may have been silenced as early as infancy. Tears get stored someplace in your body and then began to cause pain or often times create an illness. Until I relearn how to release sadness, hurt and fear emotionally, my heart is going to alert me to the potential danger of holding those feelings in my body and not giving expression to them.

I need to cry so my heart will stay strong. I think there was a time in my adult life when I felt so vulnerable and responsible that I turned what of thought of as a weakness into a barrier against tears. I now know that tears are a sign of strength not a sign of weakness. It takes courage to let yourself feel so deeply into your soul that you can weep profoundly while remembering that you will indeed stop weeping when it is time and you are ready and then you will be able to go on functioning in this world just fine.

Do not, please, protect yourself or your partner from your tears. Even if you do not have words or understanding for the tears, be sweet with each other, hold each other, look into the depths of each other’s eyes. Share your soul misery. Intimacy is about softness and tenderness and empathy and always, passion. Intimacy is about opening your heart and welcoming all of who your partner is and trusting you are enough and can receive the whole package. Cling to each other greedily and sob. It helps to heal the sadness and take away the fear and comfort the hurt that, if not attended to through tears, will very likely turn into something in your body that you would profoundly prefer not to have to deal with, much like my tears that turned into significant heart problems.

I have learned and then I forgot and now I am remembering: It is okay for me to cry. I know how to comfort myself and I know who to turn to for comfort. I can comfort myself with music, with writing, taking walks, holding precious Aimee, making a list of everyone who loves me, reading a well written book that distracts me, making plans to see a friend. I can turn to those who have told me in the past that they love me and trust that it is still true. Allow grief to take its course, however long it might take and whatever colour, size, shape or sound it might have, will help keep you healthy. Identifying grief might be tricky, but it is a skill you can teach yourself when you commit to being mindful and intentional about listening to your inner self.

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