A Memorable Cry

I spent the first 2.5 decades of my life holding back tears whenever I wanted to cry, at least in front of people. When my sister died, things changed a little (pretty much everything changed, actually). Some of it was in a good way (well, a lot of things changed in a good way—it just took a while to realize it), and one of the things I changed was the way I feel about crying and tears.

My mom and I had an entire conversation about my sister last night, and neither of us cried. We were drinking wine too, and those two things together are usually a surefire recipe for tears (not always in a sad way). It’s actually kind of sad, in a way, that we can talk about her now without always evoking tears. We talked about crying in general too, and how we both have a memory from elementary school (3rd grade for me and 4th grade for her) when the teacher spoke to us about being rude…and we cried. Because we were both wusses, and we also didn’t usually do anything that called for that kind of attention.

It’s strange when something like this comes up—crying. And it keeps coming up for people around me in different ways. It made me think of the Memorable Cries I’ve had throughout my life, and one of these memories really sticks out to me right now.

A few years ago, my friend Kyle, whom I’ve known since approximately age 4, would sometimes stop by my house on her way home from work. We would sit on my couch and drink wine and talk. This is nothing new (well, the wine part is newer)—when I was a kid, I used to take my mom’s bedside phone (it had a cord) and stretch it into her closet, where I’d sit in the clothes basket and talk to Kyle for hours. I honestly have no idea what we talked about, but it was a regular occurrence. At that time, we decided instead of saying ‘goodbye,’ we’d say the name of a kitchen utensil or appliance. We still sign our emails that way a couple decades later.

On one particular evening, we sat drinking wine and chatting, and somehow we started talking about my sister. Kyle obviously knew her too. On this particular day, we wound our conversation around toward the story of the night Jen died. It was a story I had embedded in my brain (still do), and sometimes when I’m alone, I like to revisit the details and events and cry and make sure that the story is still real even though time continues to pass.

Kyle asked me what actually happened to Jen on the night she died, and all at once I realized that no one knew the story. My family did, obviously, but all of the people who knew Jen in our community didn’t really know–or they knew the rumor mill versions and didn’t know what was real or true, or what we, the people in the story, went through on that one horrendous night. I really wanted to tell my friend what happened that night—the chain of events—that were probably difficult to hear (and most likely I shared way too many details—Kyle and I both tend to do that when we’re storytelling). I realized in those moments that I had spent the last few years pushing people away from the story—being angry because no one understood what I went through. I resented that it would be selfish of me if I wanted someone to be able to understand—because then that meant they’d have to experience loss too.

That evening, Kyle and I sat on the couch with our wine, and cried for as long as it took me to tell the whole story. Neither of us tried not to, and she told me if I didn’t want to tell her about it, it was ok. But I wanted to.

It was surely my most memorable friend-shared cry. It made me contemplate the roles other people played in Jen’s/our story, and what role her story played in their lives. Sometimes I wonder if writing the story from my point of view would do something for people who read it or for myself. Would it help my newer friends understand me better, or help my/Jen’s old friends fill in the blanks of the story?
I don’t know—but nowadays, instead of telling my story of Jen, I usually just spend time with friends on the days that are most meaningful to me in relation to her, even if my friends don’t know about the occasion. It softens the feelings I’d have about my sister if I were alone (and probably prevents some tears), and it usually helps me bring her up and tell a story about her life that doesn’t involve tears at all, but just keeps memories alive.

I used to get jaw-aches from holding back tears, but now I’m just a little more weepy when the occasion arises, and I appreciate that sharing pieces of stories (happy or sad) is what connects us to our friends and people we care about.

What is one of your most Memorable Cries?

Do you try not to cry or just let it happen when you need to?



39 thoughts on “A Memorable Cry”

  1. lauren@spicedplate

    Lisa, I love your honesty and openness here.  Teachers have indeed made me cry (one accused me, in front of the whole class of not studying for a test and announcing my grade of 36 — when I in fact HAD studied but didn’t feel good on the day of the test!) but I’m not sure which of my cries has been the most memorable…something to ponder…
    hope your day is filled with smiles instead of tears!

  2. I block a lot of them from my memory but, I’m a crier.  I wear my emotions on my sleeve and hope to some day have more control over them — especially the “frusteration tears”

    I think the most recent would be my most memorable.  I had just lost roxy the ferret who had passed away on my lap while I was petting her.  I had to bury her alone and, in the same day, got a message that my husband would not be home from training as originally planned.  Between the loss and the devastation I let it all out for HOURS.  I went for a run to stop the tears and cried through my run too.  

    I hope that’s the last memorable cry I have for a while. and I hope the next time either of us let it all out its happy tears =) or im-gonna-pee-my-pants-laughing kind of tears. those are my favorite 😉

    love you so so much! sorry if i’m MIA a lot but know you’re always in my thoughts darling! xoxoxo

  3. This post is incredibly moving and thought-provoking.  I cry most often when I think about the details of the passing of a loved one (human and non-human) I can almost never make it through the memory  without crying.  So I get what you mean by the surprise your and your mother experienced in your most recent conversation. 

    I actually love to cry and when I find that nothing has made me cry for awhile I watch a movie to cry.  I find the release of crying as intense and wonderful as sex.

  4. I’m a secret crier —  I guess I find it kind of uncomfortable crying in public.  (Is it crier or cryer???)  The only memorable cries I can think of have happened in the cemetery by myself 🙂  I think it is incredibly helpful to cry – at least for me.  I’m glad you have someone you can cry with!

  5. Another amazing post my friend. I am both a secret crier and a public crier. Sometimes I just can’t hold it in. When I am around my dad, or people I don’t know well I hold it in. When I am around my mom or other friends I feel more comfortable letting it out. Crying is therapeutic for me and I almost always feel better after a good cry. It’s so important to have friends like Kyle and to be able to talk to her the way you can. Your end signature is too cute..blender. 

  6. Heather (Where's the Beach)

    Wow. This speaks to me so deeply My sister is my everything. I am so incredibly thankful each and every day for her. I did have a dear friend, one I’d consider my sister, die 15 years ago So reading this, remembering everything about loosing her, hearing about it, trying to tell others about it…so many emotions. With some, I can talk about her with nothing but laughter. With others, the tears just like it happened yesterday. My most memorable cry was hearing about her death.

  7. Awww Lisa. I love you. I have never seen you cry, but I know it would break my heart.

    My most memorable was definitely when my Mom was in the hospital for cancer and my Dad got hit by the car — the kind of cry where you think your stomach is going to come up and out.

    I love you.

  8. lisa, thanks so much for sharing about crying and for sharing about your sister. the subject of emotions, suppressing/releasing, really feeling is fascinating. and i liked hearing about your friendship with kyle!
    when i’m tired, i cry more easily, but i have never been a big crier. however, i do have one recent, memorable cry: the last day i was aunti-nanny for little e. as i drove away the sobs just rushed out! then i went to the gym, and i was trying to stairmaster and cry at the same time…i don’t recommend that! 🙂
    i also cried when i got stuck in a traffic jam for two hours this fall. but that was just using the occasion to cry about what was really making me emotional!
    thanks again for sharing…i love how you have wine + couch time with your mom!

  9. Lisa, I am also a crier, but also try my best to hold back the tears.  Sometimes you just can’t (and reall shouldn’t), and I’m learning it’s part of who I am and it’s not a flaw or something to hide.  My 2 memorable cries were probably when my grandpa died – we were a lot alike (both very shy, quiet, but could be silly at times) and it just really hurt, and when I had to watch my dog die.  I’ve also been “yelled” at (I put it in quotes because it probably even wasn’t really yelling, but to my sensitive nature, it felt like it) in school, but I did the whole “smile the most obnoxious toothy grin possible” look (it happens weather I want it to or not, haha) unitl I got out to my locker, then I cried so no one could see me.

    I love your idea of associating the special Jen days with your friends and allowing them to also share in some of the memories.  *hug*

    …(I’d sign off whisk) =)

  10. For a long time I couldn’t NOT cry when I felt emotional.  During fights with my husband (although rare) the tears would just spill out even when I didn’t want them to.  During conversations with an uber controlling, confrontational (female) boss, that was the worst!  I actually went on the hunt for tips to prevent yourself from crying when you feel the urge coming on.  (Pressing your tongue to the roof of your mouth, for instance.)

    I definitely don’t cry as much as I use, but I also don’t feel the urge.  Crying really is an interesting thing to think about, it’s funny how it changes and evolves as we get older!

  11. Oh, yes, I cry a lot! My daughter just laughs at me. I cry when someone experiences a happy moment on TV. I cry when I listen to Wednesday’s Child on a local TV station (about this week’s adoptable child).  

    I maybe cry a little less than I used to, though. Age, perhaps? A change in hormones? Or maybe because I’ve now gone through a number of sadnesses and disappointments and am better at handling profound emotions. I have no clue.

    No memory comes to mind of my BIG cries. Although I have been thinking of crying lately, as I’ve watched Madonna Badger at the funeral mass for her 3 young daughters who were killed in the Christmas fire. So unbelievably devastating. Her tears touched me so deeply. I probably have become teary-eyed at reading the accounts of the tragedy.

  12. You really put yourself out there with this post Lisa. It surely was a powerful one. I’m loving your posts more and more. Would love for you to do a video post so I could put a voice to all these beautiful words. 🙂

    Anyways, I’m definitely a crier. Actually, my entire family is pretty emotional and we all cry easily, some more than others.

    A memorable cry for me was in the 2nd grade. Our teacher brought her St.Bernard dog to class. She let him run around the class room and me, Maria and our best friend Nour were so scared because we all were terrified with big dogs. All of were crying and jumping on desks to get away from the dog all while our teacher was laughing. Let’s just say it took me a long time to get comfortable with dogs since then!

  13. I remember a lot of my cry sessions.  Sometimes crying feels so empowering.  When it’s a break-through of an emotion or a realization or intense feeling.  Sometimes crying feels like its weakening my strength. When I’m hormonal and in need of chocolate or crying because “my feelings got hurt.” 

  14. This is beautifully told, my friend. I have to say, it makes me sad to think of your aching jaw from avoiding/holding back the tears. For me – crying can be so cleansing and offers a release that not many other emotions can offer, it’s such a necessary thing, in a way. So I’m glad you’re back to letting the tears come as they may, opening yourself up to your friends just a little bit more. You are incredibly strong. 

  15. I cry too much.  Sadness, frustration, anger, exhaustion, my period…they all set me off.  Sometimes it’s therapeutic but other times I think it just serves to send me into a spiral of despair. And then I wake up the next morning and think, “What what THAT all about?”

    The loss of a loved one, though, could definitely call for some teary catharsis.  I’m so glad that your friend was able to be present for you as you shared your experience with her.  Sometimes it takes a while to feel ready to talk about something so emotionally difficult.  Thank you for writing such a thoughtful post.  Wishing you the best!

  16. That’s a good question—I’m gonna guess it’s “crier.” But I really have no idea 🙂
    I’ve had some good cemetery cries—it’s such an interesting place to be alone—with the wide open sky and air of peacefulness.

  17. I’m the same way—depends on the person/people I’m with whether I’ll hold it back or not. I hold back way less than I used to—being weepy is ok sometimes 🙂

  18. Stairmastering and crying all at once does sound quite hazardous! Transitions are hard—thinking of your cry for the changes with little e. Around here, we joke about that—transitions are sad even when good things are happening (like kids growing up, etc), but acknowledging the sadness is important. I still want to cry when I think about the day I moved out from living with Matthew (and his dad, although that part I wasn’t crying about—who really wants to live with their brother in law?! Lol). Time alone is good for crying too—a traffic jam seems perfect for that! One time I was walking through a mall with my mom, and a young girl probably age 15 was sobbing as she walked through the crowds (I think she may have been with her mother). It wasn’t a normal cry—it was like a my-dog-just-died cry, and it just really struck me that she was walking around crying like that. I worried about her and thought of that for years. …Until I found myself doing the same thing in the airport and on a plane on the morning I went home when my sister died.
    Ahhh, crying is good 🙂

  19. I had a college roommate who used to cry at everything—including the plastic commercials where the old woman was sitting in the hallway waiting for news about her husband in the hospital. We used to laugh at her, but I do understand it better now. I’m sure everything you listed has an impact on our cry-personality!
    I sometimes laugh at myself for crying—I don’t think I’ve ever watched an episode of Private Practice or Parenthood without crying!

  20. Oh my, how traumatizing! I can’t believe your teacher did that—I’m surprised you’re not still scared of dogs!
    It’s so much better to let the emotions out than trying to hold them in!
    Thanks for the kind words, my friend 🙂
    I may do a video post soon‹I have to think of a reason/topic though. Lol. Have a wonderful Monday!

  21. Crying can definitely throw me into a spiral of more crying too (and thinking about more things to cry about!)—it’s a crazy thing, but I think overall, getting the emotions out has to be best 🙂

  22. Whenever I’m in front of others I try to hold back the tears as much as possible but I’m usually not too successful. I too clench my jaw when I’m trying to hold back my emotions rather it be sadness or anger. I know that feeling all too well. I’m sending lots of positive thoughts your way!

  23. I’m definitely a total wuss when it comes to this sort of thing. My dad passed away and if I mention his name with a single drop of alcohol inside my body it’s a recipe for instant tears. Sometimes, bringing his name up during conversations doesn’t bother me at all. I like to tell about the things we used to do together and stuff like that, although I’ve noticed that people often try to switch the topic of the conversation (I think they think I’m uncomfortable). But the truth is talking about all the amazing memories I have with him and also get to know a little more about the memories the others around me have of him is awesome (at least for me) and it doesn’t make me a bit sad (as long as no alcohol is involved!). 
    It’s been 10 years since he passed away and I was only 14, so some memories are a little foggy… sometimes, I think of him and I’m not quite sure if it’s a memory or something I made up and it scares me to death the idea of this happening to all of my precious memories… Thanks for sharing! Loved the post <3

  24. I don’t cry much.  My last good long sob was when I lost a much-loved (and much too young) family member and her unborn infant daughter last year.  I cried so hard that I thought my brains might pour out my nose.  I was alone in the house, and I just sat on the floor and wrapped my arms around my big lug of a dog.  It wasn’t a good cry…but it was a necessary cry. 

    I used to worry before that there was something wrong with me because I didn’t cry as much as other people.  Now, I don’t worry about that so much…but sometimes I wish for the release of tears that don’t always want to come.

    Except during Christmas specials.  Tear-filled eyes are pretty much automatic then.  😉

  25. Hi, I just found your blog through my sisters (sophia at raven waves) I have one too http://www.thefitnessapple.wordpress.com Obviously you know that we are having family problems but I hope one day I can be strong like you and talk about the events with a positive “cry” every now and then and just know that everything happens for a reason and we need to accept cherish and move on from the hurt in order to heal. HUGS! hope you come to my blog too!

  26. Gina (Candid RD)

    Quite honesty, I love to cry.  It’s like opening up the gates of pressure and letting everything flow as it should.  I used to take a medication that didn’t allow me to have emotions, and I didn’t cry for an entire year.  I couldn’t hand it, so I stopped the meds.  I’ve never been one to hold back tears (unless it’s at an important event where my makeup is REALLY important, haha).  I let the flood gates open whenever they need to!  The last time I cried I remember thinking how great it felt, and then afterwards, I felt so much better.  And I hope you did too.

  27. I have this weird “don’t cry in front of my mom thing”. This was especially true when my grandma passed away. We were extremely close and I thought of her more as a friend than anything else. I remember being in the hospital trying as hard as possible not to cry while my mom was balling her eyes out. While successful, the burden of being the “one who won’t cry and keeps it together” grows to be a bit much sometimes. It’s hard to explain!  I generally then completely lose it when I am alone.

  28. I’m a hold back the tears type of person too.  Not sure why because I appreciate when someone lets their true feelings show.  Like Allison I tend to lose it when I’m alone.
    Each time I think about your sister my heart aches… You are doing a beautiful thing by keeping her memory alive.
    My most memorable cry was when I found out my mom had primary amyloidosis, which is often terminal within 1 year of diagnosis.  She had a stem cell transplant in 2004 and amazingly is still surviving this disease.

  29. Lisa, you’re such an amazing person. You’re strong, and wise, and I’m sure you’re an amazing support for your family. Its totally up to you if you choose to tell people what happened or not, but I’m sure all of your friends just want to support you as best they can!

  30. As usual, this is a beautifully written and extremely thoughtful post. I have always been (and possibly always will) a person who holds back tears. I cry maybe once a year and to be honest, wine is usually involved. The last time I had a memorable cry was when I received a phone call that my young brother had a large tumor his his thoracic cavity. Initially, I was just in shock and the tears didn’t come. But later that day, as I thought about my brother and everything we’ve been through together I just let myself cry and didn’t hold anything back. Still, I wiped away the evidence when I saw my family. Odd I know. Either way, it was a therapeutic cry that seriously relieved a lot of stress. Thanks for such a though provoking post. 🙂

  31. I read this post a while ago (when you posted it) in my feedler on my phone. It made me tear up. I heart you. Thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself with us. I wish we lived closer I would love to hang with you, have some wine and just give you a big hug..and I’m not a big hugger either! I can not imagine what you went through and how hard it has been. I am glad to hear you are at a point where you can talk about your sister and keep her memory alive without it causing too much pain. My father died when I was a little girl and my mom was 6 months pregnant then with my brother..and never ever talked about him when we were growing up. It was just too painful for her, and I had to hear stories from my grandparents and uncles…it was kind of strange but after all these years she still can’t look at their wedding photos. She gave them to me to have but told me to go through them when she wasn’t around and to share them with my brother. It was hard on us too because we didn’t know him, and I wish looking back she would have kept his memory alive more for our sake.

    A good cry feel amazing every now and then. I am one to hold everything in. I hate when people see me cry. I even held back tears when I got all emotional after the baby was born and my entire family first saw her. Every now and then it all comes out. Usually when I am sitting alone watching a sad movie or something and I can’t even control myself…my most memorable cry…I can’t recall but I am sure there has been a few!

  32. Crying is pretty amazing. You can cry due to every emotion..It it can be SO healing. I most remember crying after my Mom’s Dad died. I stayed strong the entire day. I didn’t cry in the morning, at the service, etc. I cried when we arrived at the meal afterwards…it was like it all finally hit me. He was such a great man! Tear!

  33. I’ve been meaning to comment on this post for the longest time. That’s what happens when I read blogs on my iphone…

    I could relate to this post very much, because I too do not like crying in front of people. Funny thing is I feel like it doesn’t take a whole lot to make me cry, so I’m always holding back tears. After reading through your comments, it was nice to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t like to cry in front of their parents. I guess I just never wanted to make them feel bad. 

    I’m so glad that you feel like you are in a point in your life where talking about your sister is a little easier. Your such a strong and smart woman and I am so grateful to have became your friend through blogging! Like Laury said, I also wish we lived closer!

    Maybe we can all meet one day! XOXO

  34. I have always been a crier, still am.  I cry when I’m sad, mad, happy… everything.  It used to shame me and I felt like such a baby, but now I embrace the cries for their intense emotional release.  I can talk about my mom without crying now too, though it’s always interesting to see what does bring tears to my eyes about her.  I’ll see something, hear something, smell something that is just so HER and it’s been enough to weaken my knees at times.  But other times I can talk about her, even what happened to her, without shedding any tears.  Emotions are so complicated and amazing. xo

  35. This is a really deep and thought provoking post, Lisa. It’s brave of you to share all this! I am very self conscious about crying. The only person I could cry in front of freely was my ex-boyfriend, and probably still is. Our relationship got so bad at a point that I would HOPE I’d cry so that he’d take our problems seriously for once. But enough of that – currently, I have trouble crying in front of anyone, even my family. I don’t remember the last time I cried in front of my parents or sister freely. I can only cry like I want to (not that I WANT to, but you know) when I’m alone. Often it feels best for me to cry in the shower because I can be “loud” if I need to be, if others are home.

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