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Tears Triggered by a Barge

That is a title I never thought I would use, and I came up with it during a discussion with a therapist. While the grief fog and confusion are not as oppressive seven months after I lost my beloved Charlene, there are still things that bring on the tears.

Triggered often means people who have little self-control and try to manipulate others to change their words and ways. The word is still useful, though. In fact, that therapist has used it about the process in coming to terms with, and integrating, grief in our lives. I was triggered by a barge on the Hudson River.

Those of us doing the work of grief have emotions brought on by different things. Smiles and tears can happen together. I was triggered by a barge on the Hudson River.
Barge on the Hudson River near Malden, NY, Unsplash / Cowboy Bob Sorensen
My mother passed away several years ago, and a friend gave me words of wisdom. He told me sorrow can come out of the blue; things will remind me of my mother unexpectedly. That was true. Years have passed, and I can be reminded of my mother, father, oldest brother, and others without crying.

Something inaccurately cited by many is the "stages of grief" by  Dr. Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross. Denial, anger, final acceptance, and that sort of thing. It is not only false, but was based on people who learned they had terminal illnesses. It had nothing to do with those of us who have lost loved ones and are going through the work of grief.

I had to suppress tears in the grocery store yesterday, seeing certain baking supplies and mixes, knowing that I will never have the things she made again.

For the sake of our own healing, we must accept the reality of the loss. It is also important to allow ourselves to feel the emotions involved. Tears...oh, boy. They are normal, nothing to be ashamed of, and not only provide some release, but help in the healing process. I try to suppress them or get alone when hit with the urge while I am working, but I have some co-workers who are kind and compassionate. Several know about this terrible exclusive club we've joined that others cannot understand.

Neighbors upstairs and next door in this apartment building must have heard some of my more exuberant crying.

Charlene was fond of seeing barges on the Hudson River, and I liked them as well. Some of the fun was watching the waves made by the wake reach the shore. When I pulled into that small park and boat launch in Malden, New York, I saw a barge coming. I hurriedly attached my phone to the tripod and snapped a few pictures, dedicating them to her.

At home, I realized that I had parts one and three of this story, but then I remembered part two. When I went to the hospital in Poughkeepsie to say my goodbyes (I had to give the order to remove life support), I noticed that her room had a great view of the Hudson River...I have to start and stop writing this because of crying in bursts...and there was a barge out there. That memory really set me off.

It is strange how we can have smiles at good memories as well as tears at the same moment. Also, it's funny in a way that a barge brought me tears. What else was it hauling?

Telling this story and certain other things trigger my tears. If grief were an actual being, it would be sneaky. Things bring emotions, even tears. That's all right. In fact, it's okay to not be okay. Crying is not only acceptable, but actually important. Grief is complex and manifests itself in different ways with different people and different circumstances. I know I will see Charlene in Heaven. She, Jesus, my parents, oldest brother, and others will be waiting for me. There is hope in my sorrow — but it still hurts.