4 About Your Fear of Your Tears

A reflection on being human

I am a crier. I have been for decades. I seldom go to movies because I get so emotionally involved in the tension and tears of the story.

Part of the challenge of being a crier, for me, is that I write words that are moving and honest and thoughtful. When I am sitting at a computer, I can describe a person and their relationships and their impact and the cost of their loss in quietly powerful ways. In truth, sometimes I tear up as I write.

And then, when I am speaking those words, thinking about the response and the pain the family is experiencing, I start to choke up.

Recently, I was speaking in a memorial service for several people who had lost loved ones in the previous months. I described the death of our daughter. I was doing fine, until I looked up and saw Nancy’s face, experiencing again the pain. And my voice stopped.

When I say that I’m a crier, however, I don’t mean that I am a sobber or a wailer or, as my friend Lydia says, “an ugly crier.” At least not in front of a group. I mean that my voice catches, or shakes a little. I have a tear that forms in my eye. I need to stop talking for a few seconds to be able to get the words out.

I do my sobbing in more private settings. I am not built to be a wailer.

And I don’t apologize for having that tearful, catch-in-the-throat response. I mean I literally do not say, in the middle of the service, “I’m sorry about that.” I simply stop, take a breath, and keep moving through the service.

If you are a sobber or a wailer, experience that expression of grief off stage. If you think it might happen in the middle of the service, consider having someone ready to step up and help you. Consider crying through the pain before the service. Allow the work of the service to steady your heart for the task at hand, knowing that you can weep later.

And if you are really concerned, don’t do the service.

Our son and daughter-in-law let me perform their wedding.

Our daughter refused to let me perform theirs. “You are the dad, not the pastor,” she said.

And she asked our friend, Lee, to lead the wedding.

He’s not a crier. He did great. And so did I.

And so will you.


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