I am very fortunate. Not only can I remember attending the funeral of my paternal great-grandmother, but also both funerals of my maternal great-grandparents. I am fortunate because many people my age have been to more family funerals than I have.
At these three funerals, I remember sitting and listening to the stories my family told about them. I remember sitting and telling myself not to cry. I remember telling myself that everyone would think I was weak if I cried. I remember clenching my fists and tightening every muscle in my body. I remember when I looked away from the grown men who outwardly expressed their grief. I remember…that I wanted to cry.
Those memories flooded to my mind when one of my college professors shared one of her personal life experiences. Before she taught at the undergraduate level, she had directed day care centers for several years. She told us about a boy in one of her programs who had been taught by his father that ‘real boys don’t cry.’ Unfortunately, I cannot recall what had provoked this boy to tears, but I remember that she told us how this boy bit his bottom lip so hard (in order to keep from crying), that he actually bit through his lower lip.
I can’t answer why men in this culture believe crying is a weakness. All I can say is that grief is a natural response. Such is true in scripture’s shortest sentence. “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).
As time goes on, I am attending more and more funerals. Consider, with me, making a simple switch if and when you experience such grief. Rather than holding it all in, let it out!
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