There is some evidence that men cry more as they age. I remember a man I met with often several years ago. As he approached 75 he shocked me with how emotional he was in so many cases. He eventually died from Alzheimer’s disease and I always wondered if that was the cause. There does seem to be some foundation for the fact that Alzheimer’s patients have more difficulty regulating their emotions.
All of this was largely theoretical for me until the last two years. I have always been a fairly sensitive guy and I have never really been ashamed of crying. Yet, it was quite rare for me to turn on the waterworks. That has changed in the last two years.
Last week a memory of my late wife Jean filled my eyes with tears as I drove down the expressway. A few hours later word reached me about a friend whose battle with cancer keeps taking stubborn, negative turns. Again, moisture magically appeared. And, sadness is not the only trigger. A tender moment with my fiance the other day made me quite emotional. This past summer a really tender moment with my grand-kids forced me to look away so I wouldn’t scare them with my tears.
At the age of 66, I am clearly aging. I definitely cry more than I ever did before. I am not going to deny that my advancing age is a factor, but I think it is deeper than that.
I think the last two years of my life, which have included the fatal illness of my wife, her death and the discovery of a new love which will soon culminate in marriage, has sharpened my emotions and my tear ducts to a razor-sharp edge. And, I think that’s great.
A Facebook friend posted an entry last week quoting author Hope Edelman as saying “When a mother dies, a daughter’s mourning never completely ends.” The quote naturally made me very sad for my own daughter because I clearly see her struggles with her mother’s death. I wrote on the Facebook page of my friend that her post made me cry. She wrote back, “I am so sorry Tim, but it’s true.”
That’s when my thought about my recent tendency to tears crystallized. I wrote back, “Crying is not bad. Crying proves we are alive.” her quick rejoinder was that she “Must be very alive,” and I believe that.
Our journey is enriched not only by joy, but by sadness and dramatic emotions too. Laughter is essential, but I am becoming more and more convinced that opening our hearts to intense feelings of sadness is just as important to becoming whole.