Tears shed in grief have a different chemical makeup than tears resulting from joy or physical irritants, according to experts. The human body is amazing in its ability to heal and to care for itself. One of the finest examples of this fact happens when we cry.
During times of extreme emotional turmoil, certain chemicals like cortisol, which is often called the stress hormone and that impedes the body's ability to operate in a healthy way, are excreted in tears. I find that fascinating, but the additional features of tears really made me stand back in awe of God's creation and planning. Tears contain endorphins, which act as "pain-killers" and help us to feel better.
I remember driving to work with tears streaming down my face after my husband died. My face was always wet with tears during those early months. The salt (and released toxins and chemicals) from my tears actually changed the texture of the skin on my face. But think many harmful substances were being drawn from my body.
I also noticed no one else was openly crying like that. Surely, I thought, others around me had experienced some kind of loss. When I began to search for them, I could see no outward sign to indicate they carried a burden. That made me feel more alone than ever. One day I passed a church that had a large sign near the road. The Crying Room, it said, was available. My heart flooded with joy. How wonderful to see signs of compassion, literal signs on the side of the road. I envisioned the care those who entered the Crying Room would receive. Tender arms would embrace them. Smiles would encourage them to enter without fear. A rocking chair, perhaps a snack or a cup of hot tea, would be waiting.
This was something I needed. And I needed it badly. This is something everyone who is suffering needs, not just me. My soul cried out for someone to understand, for others to find me and hold me up until I could regain enough strength to hold myself up.
And then I remembered the churches of old I had attended. Yes, there were crying rooms. I remembered one in particular that had a glass separating the room from the sanctuary where most members of the congregations were worshiping. It was nice. It was comforting. But it was for young parents who held small babies in their arms. It was a way for them to hear the service going on (through a loudspeaker system) while still being able to care for infants too young to participate in the children's classes.
The Crying Room I had envisioned did not exist. Yet, I found an equivalent. Oddly, I found such a place on the Internet. The Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors was in its infancy in 2008, but from its founding, the purpose was ensure that no survivor of suicide loss feel as alone as I had felt on that road.
On this international nonprofit's About page, you will read "Kindness matters – and to the more than five million people around the world who lose a loved one to suicide each year– it matters a lot. We provide healing and compassionate support during the lonely and tumultuous aftermath of suicide. We help people survive suicide loss, and go beyond “just surviving,” to lead meaningful and productive lives.
"It is our vision that no suicide loss survivor on the planet go without support."
That no suicide loss survivor on the planet go without support. That is a big mission, especially for one woman to have while sitting at her kitchen table. Today, more than 16,000 members from all over the world consider this "crying room" to be a lifeline. Many tens of thousands more visit the site and read messages on the community forum, seek out resources, and look for information on mental health and suicide grief.
Did it help that this one woman at her kitchen table was a mental health professional? Why, yes, it did. But her philosophy is not limited to those holding a degree in this and related fields. The people who put the "Hope" in the Alliance of Hope are the regular members and all-volunteer staff. who spend countless hours "being there" for each other and keeping the community safe. Because the devastation of life after suicide is so severe, this peer support saves lives everyday. Like the crying rooms I remembered on the road that day, this organization encourages healing in a nonjudgmental way. When someone enters the virtual "doors," there are those who will welcome them, no matter who they are, no matter how broken they are. Others offer encouragement or compassion, a "hug" or information that helps make the day a little bit better.
Read the rest of the Alliance story here: https://allianceofhope.org/our-story/
To learn more about tears, read this post:
Way for Hope
Losing someone you love is difficult, but it can mean a lot to hear from others traveling similar paths.
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Links of Value:
Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Word of God
"My Story" Big Daddy Weave
"Hope in Front of Me"
The Joy FM
Traumatic loss or preexisting conditions can worsen mental health. Use this info graphic to find help.
"Take Charge of Your Mental Health" - a free download from www.nami.org: