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It's Not A Wive's Tale

Photo of Emma, Jeanne and Donn taken on September 11, 2010 at W&M

Jeanne Harris Weaver (1/14/2017)©

When my children were young, and when they were sad, I often sang to them a song popular in the 70’s and written for children:  


It’s alright to cry; crying takes the sad out of you. 

It’s alright to cry; it might make you feel better. 

Raindrops from your eyes; washing all the mad out of you. 

Raindrops from your eyes; it’s gonna make you feel better…


Tears are important. Grief brings tears. Tears we can’t escape. Tears we need to shed. Uncontrollable tears may stream down our face. Perhaps, we were raised to think tears are a sign of weakness. We don’t want to show our vulnerability. We may not want to bring attention to our pain. We don’t want pity from others.


It is actually true. Tears are a healthy response to pain, grief, and sorrow. Those salty tears we shed are differently from the tears our body makes to lubricate our eyes or wash out irritants. They contain a chemical which allows our body to excrete toxins. They allow our body to produce a good feeling hormone. Tears are not a sign of weakness or vulnerability. They are a sign of strength; a sign of healing. 


After losing Todd, I cried uncontrollable tears for more than a year. I cried while I painted. I cried when I thought of a wonderful memory. I cried when I saw Todd’s friends or other family members. I allowed myself to cry. I carried a cotton handkerchief with me to blot my eyes. It remained and still remains in my purse. In a way, that handkerchief became my little secret security blanket. I held it in my hand while I gave the Memorial Day Keynote address in Cocoa, FL, in 2012. If I was in a public setting and did not want to lose my composure, just holding that handkerchief seemed to keep me safe until I was in a more private setting.


I would not allow myself to cry in bed. I would not allow this tragedy to be about me. It was not about me. It was all about Todd, a young man so filled with promise and an aspiring future. In the words of William and Mary President, W. Taylor Reveley, in his essay included in my book—


 he was the best of the best


I would get out of bed and find something productive to do in memory of Todd. One of the first things I did was to produce two large i-photo books. They were created early in the morning when I would wake with tears. As I worked on the books each day, the tears would turn to small smiles and fond memories. It helped to put Todd’s life in order. It helped me to put my own life in order. 


I did not realize, or understand the process I was following in healing my grief. I didn’t care what step of grief I was in. I just had a gut feeling that I had to do it my way. 


Tears are an innate gift given to us, as humans. Let the tears flood. As they wash away the toxins, sadness, and anger, they will welcome love.  With love, comes hope and joy. 


(My child, let your tears fall for the dead, 

and as one in great pain begin the lament…

Let your weeping be bitter and your wailing fervent..

then be comforted for your grief. —Sirach 38:16-17)

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