April 16th is not a good day for me. Three years ago my Dad died, quite unexpectedly, on that day and frankly it's the worst thing that's ever happened to me.* Long time readers have no doubt read their fill about it, so I'm not going to go into that in depth here.
What's strange for me is how the grief has become so hidden, with my complicity. When I cry about Dad now, and I do still cry about him, it's always in private. I'm a bit ashamed of it, to be honest. I cry quite easily, really, and was teased a lot about that as a kid, so I squirrel it away from the eyes of others.
People's reactions to tears are interesting. Dad was always so heart broken when faced with my crying. I vividly recall being at a funeral with him, for his dear friend Mary (another one we lost to cancer, oh how I hate cancer); he held my hand while I tried not to cry because I knew he would feel he had to help me fix it and there was no fixing it, and also I wanted him to be able to focus on his own grief, not feel he had to resolve mine. Another time I fell to soggy pieces at the bedside of a friend who was dying and wanted to leave the room so that my parents could have their time with our friend without the distraction of my needs and tears. I think there's something pretty hard wired in parents that makes them want to put most other things aside to comfort their children when they cry, even though sometimes the child is an adult and the tears are just a physical expression of the upset inside, and a way for them to cope with it all.
And of course I've experienced time and time again the view that if you cry you have lost it, and lost. This has been one of my main motivators in learning to control my tears (still imperfectly achieved); that if water starts to come from the eyes there are a great number of people who stop listening to the valid words coming from the mouth. There's a gender dynamic in that too, imho. In searching for an image for this post all the teary eyed persons were of the womanly persuasion. Although there were quite a few results for Tears for Fears too.
While some dismiss the leaker the instant they start leaking, others get angry. Tears seem to confront them with their own actions and demand that they do something they don't want to do, like dial it down or realise the hurt they've caused or find a solution that's impossible. Personally, when I'm crying because I miss my Dad there's nothing anyone can do about that except give me a hug. But if I'm crying because I'm angry then a hug might not be the best idea if it's you I'm angry at ;-)
What I guess I'd like when I cry is for people to keep listening to what I'm saying. And I need to get better at saying what I need, instead of hiding away the tears or waiting for someone to read my mind.
And somewhat appropriately, as I'm about to hit publish, the rain starts falling on the roof of my office. It's loud, sometimes it gets so loud I get a headache and can't talk on the phone. Which I guess is a bit like the effect my tears can have on others - something you dearly wish would stop, not least because it can be a barrier to communication. The chances of stopping my tears are much higher than the chances of stopping the rain.
* And this is a sign of my privilege - that the worst thing in my life to date has been losing my beloved father, who I had a good relationship with. I hope my kids are this lucky.