Sunday, January 21, 2018

It’s Ok to Cry

August 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Manna, Monthly Articles

4 “Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

I have dedicated a good deal of my life to grief work. In just two years as a hospital chaplain I witnessed well over three hundred deaths. Being around death, however, does not necessary equate to grieving. Our culture of rugged individualism doesn’t give much place for the process of mourning.

Mourning is something we must choose to do. In the military I learned the term “suck it up and drive on soldier.” While somtimes the mission may require this, too much sucking it up and too much driving on are a formula for emotional dysfunction.

This past year, I performed a funeral for a state trooper and our church was filled with over a hundred squad cars of officers attending that funeral. These were tough guys who had been in high speed chases and in many life threatening situations. It was obvious they were trained to withold their emotions. They all wore sunglasses just in case a tear inadvertantly broke the threshold of their lower eyelid. I felt like one of my roles at the funeral was to point out to them the difficulty of their jobs and give them permission to grieve. Many of these strong men could hold back the floodgate of tears no longer. They mourned. They told funny stories about their friend and then they cried. They thanked me for acknowledging the perils of their profession and many of these tough guys cried.

Mouring is the painful pathway to acceptance and comfort. There is a day when God shall wipe all tears from our eyes, but the pathway to comfort now is through mourning. Taking my daughters five hours away for school is an invitation for me to mourn. We have had such a great run together at our home making lasting memories from all the time we have spent in close proximity. The harsh reality, however, is that nothing will ever be the same. I can quickly rush to the fact that there will be new memories and more good days ahead, but to truly embrace the future, I must say good-bye to the past. I am grieving now my empty basement and my empty heart. Elizabeth Kubler Ross taught us that in grief there is denial, anger, depression, bargaining with God, and finally acceptance.For those of you reading this today, let me just say, it’s okay to cry. It’s ok to cry about a marriage that is broken or maybe has ended. It’s ok to cry about your favorite pet that is gone forever. It’s good to cry over your own sins. In the generation before ours, the altar was called “the mourners bench.” If we fail to do so, the losses collect within us like cancerous tumors affecting our personhood and sometimes even our health. So Jesus looks out at a tough crowd of Jewish people who have been pushed down for generations by one civilization after another. These rough farmers and fathers, merchants and mothers, needed someone to unlock their wellspring of sorrow in order to be healed. And so Jesus simply said, “Blessed are those who mourn….”

Philip C. Nordstrom is the Pastor at Christ Community Church in Murphysboro, IL. He can be reached at:

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One Response to “It’s Ok to Cry”
  1. I appreciate Phil’s reminders about grief. Being a pastoral counselor and working with our church’s GriefShare ministry, I know the importance of people walking through their unique form of grieving. And tears are an important part of that process.

    I encourage churches and groups to develop more and more safe places for people to cry, be vulnerable and share from the deep recesses of their soul.

    Sometimes God meets us most richly when we’re at our lowest moments.

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