Have you ever been the one who first hears your friend’s tragic news? Maybe they call you, maybe they show up at your door. How do you react? I’ve been the one who first heard of the tragedy when my friend’s boyfriend had left this world way too soon. He was too young, and we were too young. How did I react? It’s hard to remember, but amidst the initial shock, I’m sure that I tried to be the strong one. Allowing my friend to cry, but not wanting her to see my tears. I do remember hugging her and telling her it would be okay. Someone had to be strong. I had to be there for her. But, what if the brave face that we try to put on isn’t what it needed at that moment?
When I received news of my Dad’s passing, I was initially in shock. I came out of a yoga class, feeling calm, relaxed and ready for my Saturday. I saw the missed calls on my phone and knew that wasn’t a good sign. My worst fears were true. How could the world go on without my Dad? After a hug and an “I love you” from my teacher and calling my family, I called my friend Amanda. What if she didn’t pick up? She had to pick up, and she did. As I shared my news and she talked to me as I drove home, I realized she was crying. I asked if she was crying, and she said yes, stating she wasn’t good in these situations. Actually, she was perfect in this situation, at that moment. I didn’t need anyone to tell me it was going to be okay. I didn’t need anyone to be strong for the both of us. I needed someone to cry with me, 700 miles away. My tears were her tears. Although she hadn’t ever suffered the loss of a parent, she could feel my pain and sadness. She may have wanted to be strong, but she didn’t have to be. She reacted authentically, as she knew that her friend had suffered a deep loss. She shared her tears with me.
We all experience a wide range of emotions, amazing and not so amazing. These emotions are what make the world and human experience beautiful. Our deepest emotions, our authenticity. We have the choice to mask our feelings, or allow them to be expressed. We are taught to be strong. But, what if feeling and showing our true emotions is what is needed at that moment? What if it isn’t weakness, but part of healing? So the next time your loved one calls you with devastating news, allow your tears to flow if you feel like crying. Allow your loved one to know that you feel their loss and share their pain. Sometimes that is what they need. We can all put on a brave face another day, at another moment.