A Good Cry
Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18 )
In this week's Torah portion, when Abraham heard that his wife had passed away, he came to eulogize her and cry for her. First and foremost, Sarah's life was dedicated to the community, so Abraham ensured that she was properly honored with a community-wide eulogy.
But once that was done, he wept. He cried for the loss of his wife.
Crying is so important in the mourning process - especially during the week of Shiva.
I was at a Shiva recently and someone mentioned that he felt his wife, one of the mourners, was crying too much. I said that I don't believe it's possible to cry too much. When you lose someone you love, there is a great deal of pain - and crying is the only way to release that pain. (If a mourner doesn't cry, then that's a reason to be concerned.)
Yes, there is a time when one must accept the past and move toward the future. But when the pain is raw, during Shiva, crying is the only medicine. And like most medicines, it might taste horrible, but it does its job.
Crying is one of God's great gifts to us; a mechanism through which we release pain and let it flow out of us.
It's amazing to me that in society today there is such a taboo against crying. People will try to hold themselves back from crying at painful times, especially in public. Often at funerals, if one of the mourners begins to cry, someone will approach him and say, "Be strong." And in response, I will usually say, "It's also good to be weak sometimes." Pain is difficult for all human beings. If, like most of us, it bothers you, then pretending otherwise will not make it go away.
Even a man of Abraham's spiritual elevation cried when he experienced pain. Crying is something very special. Don't avoid it. When you need it, embrace it.