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Crying is not a weakness

On the day of my grandfather’s interment, I wailed as I held a lily in my hands. Among the stifled cries of my family and relatives, I was crying the loudest. My late Lolo Roling could have been an annual receiver of the “best grandpa award.” He was always there for me, and I know that my life today would have been a lot different had he not passed on.

I was only six years old when my Lolo Roling died of stroke. At the time, it was hard to fathom death; it was my first memory of experiencing a tragedy. I knew that it would be a long road to recovery. I swore I could have cried blood. Some people encouraged me to be strong, to move on and to stop crying. And so I did.

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A month after my Lolo Roling’s passing, I learned how to suppress my tears. But, sometimes, bottling it all in was even harder than sobbing. I remember skipping my classes by telling my teachers that my stomach ached, but, in truth, I just wanted to be alone in the school clinic. I wanted to be by myself, so that I could finally give vent to the emotions welling up inside my heart. I hid my mourning, because I did not want to show how vulnerable I was.

More months passed, and I was slowly recovering, but I thought it was hard to get back to normal when I tried to show how “strong” I was. When I muffled my cries, it all felt, instead, like a painful lump in my throat that I could not swallow.

Growing up, I was faced with more tragic events, like the passing of my beloved dog, or when I lost in a competition where I thought I did my best. But these moments became an eye-opener for me; I realized that crying is not a sign of fragility, but a sign of strength. I knew that the people who wanted me to be stronger and to stop shedding tears did not mean any harm. It’s just that they wanted me to stop thinking of loneliness, and instead divert my sadness to happy thoughts.

They were right, too. But crying has become my way of catharsis, to purge myself of all the stress and drama. It helps me face the day, even though I know that my eyes will be red and painful. It makes me strong, because when every single tear has been shed, the sense of relief fights the hurt inside my heart.

And I know that after my tear glands have dried up, it will be replaced with peace of heart, mind and soul. As South Border puts it, “there’s a rainbow always after the rain.”

If a loved one dies, cry. If you fail, cry. And if you are afraid, cry. You are not weak, but dauntless, because you are facing the problem by letting out your emotions. That’s why I believe  men who weep are braver. Who says women are weak when they cry, or men who cry lack prowess? It is quite the opposite. But this is another topic to write about.

The bottom line is, weep when you feel like you need to. And for people who judge others when they cry, you need to stop, because judging them makes you the weaker one.

It is in your emotional low where you learn to rise again.

After the agony, you learn from your mistakes, and you learn to be stronger.

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Now, I am able to manage my emotions better. I am in my early 20s, but I still cry over deaths, failures, heartbreaks and fears, and I am not ashamed of it. I am strong in my own way.

That’s why when a family member or a friend cries, I let them be. I even tell them, “cry all you want, release the pain.”

Bridgette Lustañas, 22, is taking up MA English Studies at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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TAGS: death, emotions, Family, Lolo Roling
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