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 the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. -Washington Irving
Last Saturday, I had the honor of presenting a practical, motivating workshop to inspiring caregivers attending the 26th Annual Alzheimer’s Conference of the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts. It was a great conference filled with information, resources and supports from some amazing researchers and practitioners.
After delivering my workshop, a number of attendees visited me to express appreciation for my presentation and to share a bit of their stories. One conversation that stands out is from a nice woman who requested to purchase a copy of my book. As I was signing a copy, she told me how meaningful my presentation was for her. I looked up and could see the deep emotion in her eyes so I inquired as to whom she was caring for. She started to move her lips but no words came out – just tears. As her tears flowed, she whispered that she couldn’t say it. I gave her a hug and assured her it was okay and to come visit me anytime the rest of the day or to contact me after the event if she needed to talk. She nodded in appreciation and walked away.
Toward the end of the day, this wonderful woman visited me at my exhibit table to thank me and apologize for her earlier tears. She told me that she has been caring for her husband with Alzheimer’s for eight years. She admitted to resenting her uncontrolled tears which have been coming on more lately when she talks about her situation. I assured her that she was in a safe place filled with others who completely understand.
I have been there myself and am so grateful for the close friends and family who were there for me during those emotional moments. During the early months of my caregiving journey, I fought the flow of my emotions. I kept things bottled up inside because I falsely believed that I needed to be strong for others, especially my parents. Over time, I learned how important it was to release the feelings of grief to sustain my energy and strength to meet the next caregiving challenges with grace and determination.
There is no shame in crying. It is vital for caregivers to give themselves permission not to stifle their emotions and release tears at times. As Washington Irving wisely stated, tears are an eloquent mark of power and a display of the depth of one’s love.
Practice Tip: Allow yourself to experience emotions freely. If there is a special person or people who are willing to provide an ear and a shoulder, seek them out at your times of need. When you are speaking with a professional supporter, it is more than okay to let your tears flow. After the cleansing cry, take a sip of water and calmly communicate your fears, your needs, and desires. Any person that is truly supporting you and your family will understand and respect you for the honest sharing of your feelings. This will give you the strength to carry on.
Tears are nature’s lotion for the eyes. The eyes see better for being washed by them. -Christian Nestell Bovee
Please know that you can always share your feelings with me and that virtual hugs are being sent your way.
P.S. – I continue to be so filled with gratitude for learning that several of my peers nominated me to become a finalist for “Life Coach of the Year” for The International Coach Federation of New England. Hundreds of media sites picked up the announcement, such as the Boston Business Journal. Awards will be given at a Gala Event on June 16th. If you are in New England, I encourage you to attend as proceeds from the event are going to Champ Homes, a non-profit on a mission to provide and maintain a safe and nurturing family-type environments for homeless youths and adults. Go to http://www.icfne.org for more info.