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Loss and Grief -- When Does the Crying Stop?

Harriet Hodgson

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Surgeons worked all through the night to save my daughter, but they could not. Her injuries were too severe. She died a day after the car crash and my father-in-law died two days later. A few weeks after his death my brother died. I cried every day for months. Jeffrey A. Kottler details the stages of crying in his book. “The Language of Tears. "

Crying starts slowly, Kottler says, and “gathers momentum, builds in power and force, until it dissipates its energy with a crash, then a whimper. " He thinks each person feels a release from crying at a different point [in time]. You may be overcome with tears if your loved one has just died. When does the crying stop?

1. The crying stops when you accept the nature of death. Definitions of death and loss are posted on Web site. A sudden death occurs within an hour of the onset of symptoms. An accidental death, as you may expect, is a random accident. But a traumatic death is violent, random, and unpredictable. My daughter's death - blunt force head trauma - was a traumatic one and I had to accept this fact.

2. The crying stops when you accept your relationship with your loved one. This relationship may be loving, happy, competitive, smooth, unreliable, or painful. My daughter's high school years were troubled ones and it was not easy to be her mother. She turned her life around, became a composite engineer, earned an MBA, and was an outstanding mother. I have found comfort in her accomplishments.

3. The crying stops when you let go. Rabbi Pesach and Morrie Goldfischer write about crying in “Why Me? Coping With Grief, Loss and Change. " Parting with a loved one is a wrenching experience, they say, and “there is no easy way to let go" But we must let go in order to move forward with life. Time does heal and, as the days pass, I hope are able to let go and are grateful for your loved one's life.

4. The crying stops when you move beyond pain. Therese A. Randoh, PhD, writes about signs of recovery in her book, “How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies. " Being able to talk about your loved one without crying is one sign of recovery. As Rando says, “You lead the pain, it doesn't lead you. " Seven months after the multiple deaths in our family I am able to lead the pain.

5. The crying stops when you give thanks. My daughter was born on Thanksgiving Day 45 years ago and I am thankful for her life. I am also thankful for my twin grandchildren. My father-in-law loved life, lived it to the fullest, and I am thankful for his example. My brother loved books and I am not only thankful for his example, I share this love.

Golda Meir once said, “Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don't know how to laugh either. " I have wept with my whole heart and it is healing.

Copyright 2007 by Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance nonfiction writer for 29 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, " written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from A five-star review of the book is posted on Amazon. You will find other reviews and articles on the American Hospice Foundation Web site ("School Corner" heading) and the Health Ministries Association Web site.


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