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Strength in Grief

This New Life: Strength in Grief

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.” ~Washington Irving

In the aftermath of suicide, it was easy for me to believe my life had been destroyed forever. My beloved husband was simply and suddenly gone. My mind could not really fathom a reality without him. My heart did not understand.

I looked for answers, as most survivors do. I tried everything I could think of to renegotiate what had happened. Somehow, I believed on some level that was possible even though I knew it wasn’t.

Tears were my constant companions. Though I returned to work, my face became as soft as tanned leather. I cried outright when I was alone, and the tears slipped from my eyes even in public.

It has been said that the chemicals in emotional tears differ in chemical makeup from those manufactured for any other reason. The tears of grief have two jobs to do. A little at a time, they release pain from the deep wounds of loss and from the self-recriminations and regret many survivors of suicide feel.

Additionally – at some point in time – they leave bits of strength and healing in their salty residue. Somehow, my tears reconnected me with the love my husband and I shared. We shared a forever kind of love. A love like that does not die.

He was not gone, just moved ahead. The pain of parting became the surprise of going forward, toward him rather than away. Confusion and regret left and returned but as less and less disturbing companions.

Healing happens. There is no one way or right way. It is different for each survivor, but knowing that it can happen is a huge part of holding on to hope. If you have lost someone to suicide, you may not feel that hope today … or tomorrow. But hold on to life as tightly as you can, for after tragedy comes strength.

Cry. Those tears are healing.

One day not long after my husband died, I saw a sign in the yard of a church that said, “Crying room available.” I thought that was the most wonderful idea. What could be more comforting than to stop along the way and be welcomed into a room where those who cry are comforted.

Sometime later, I realized that was not what the sign meant. The crying room was for parents who needed to take crying infants from the Sunday service. Rooms like that often have glass windows or speaker systems that allow the parents to hear the remainder of the sermon.

But there is a place where those in pain from suicide-related loss can come in and be comforted at any time, day or night. The Alliance of Hope Forum is a virtual crying room like the one I had imagined on that day so long ago, where survivors greet each other and bear witness to both pain and healing. And in local groups across the world, survivors gather to offer each other support. Sometimes this happens in organized meetings. Sometimes it happens individually. Sometimes, it just happens without being planned.

Strangers are drawn together by the bond of losing a loved one or friend to suicide. Wherever this happens, tears may be shed and healing takes place. What Irving said long ago becomes true one more time. “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.”

About the Author

Jan McDaniel

Jan McDaniel volunteers as an Alliance of Hope forum moderator, manager, and blog content provider. She is also a regular contributor to Psych Central’s World of Psychology blog and writes about survival, connection, and hope on her website.Read More »