Two days ago I lead an interment ceremony for the ashes of a man who’d died on my hospice watch. The widow and her children met with me at the burial site a week prior so that we could talk about their wishes — who’d be there, who’d speak, what my role would be, and so on. On behalf of the family, they asked me to read aloud their remembrances … because they thought that they wouldn’t be able to speak for fear of crying. Naturally you’ll weep, I thought to myself, you’re saying good-bye to your dad, putting his ashes in the ground; why wouldn’t you weep?
What is it, I wonder, that makes so many of us reluctant (afraid? ashamed?) to show tears in public, even in front of people who’re close to us and who share our sadness. Why do people wear sunglasses and veils to hide their tears. In some cultures, the role of chief mourner — repleat with crying and lamenting — is taken up by people other than the bereaved themselves. In others, people can be seen to wail and cry and beat their chests in agony over the loss.
Why apologize for crying, or wishing to hide tears, this most natural reaction to sadness, loss, and upset? Someone posted this on Yahoo® Answers!:
How do I stop crying in public? Sometimes when I am really emotional about something … , I end up crying. I know that crying is a natural thing and that it is a way to relieve stress, but how do I stop myself from crying in public and postpone it until I get home? I hate crying in front of others — it feels like I’m displaying some weakness. I just find it extremely humiliating. What can I do to prevent myself from crying when the tears are about to flow?