A new kind of niche bar in Asia might surprise you; it’s called a "cry bar." A "cry bar" is a bar with some sofas, a few tables, and lots and lots of tissues where people can pay $6 an hour to come in, sit, and cry. Owner Luo Jun in the Chinese port city of Nanjing said he opened the bar when clients from a previous business confessed a desire to cry but didn’t know when or where it would be appropriate to do so.
How many bars in the U.S. fill the same purpose? People gathering to mourn, staring down a bottle in silence and grief (This is partly what all the drinking on Mad Men is about, in my estimation).
And we don’t even know what’s happening. Drowning in sorrow. And unaware.
Numb. Mourning inside to the depths of our bones.
Scientists can detect a substantive difference between tears that come from common experience (onions) and the tears of raw emotion. Literally, tears are cleansing to the soul. What soap does for the body, tears do for the soul. Sacred Hebrew and Christian scriptures attest to this. Psalm 56:8 tells us that God desires to record every tear we shed. For when we are so sad that we are moved to tears, the very action of crying is comforting. So Paul writes in 2 Cor. 2:4 “For I wrote to you out of great distress and anguish of heart with my many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.” Paul’s tears were from the deep places of mourning in his own heart.
You’re served divorce papers. You had no idea this was coming.
The doctor says, “We tried everything within our power. I’m sorry we couldn’t save her.”
Your boss informs you, “We’re going in a different direction.”
Mourning—the deliberate grieving, crying, processing, and sharing of shame, pain, and loss—is the means by which we curiously take on the strength of that which we overcome.
Mourning isn’t magic. Grieving isn’t a formula. But it is the way we continue to walk forward, even if we walk with a limp. Therapist Jennifer Dawn Watts notes, “True depression doesn’t come as a result of grieving. Most often grieving heals, whereas depression keeps us stuck. It’s grief avoidance.”
If you’re stuck in a moment, reach out to someone. Call your best friend. E-mail your rabbi or priest. Reach out to someone you trust. In the words of recent "American Idol winner" (theologians come in surprising forms) Phillip Phillips, “Settle down, it’ll all be clear. Don’t pay no mind to the demons they fill you with fear. The trouble it might drag you down. If you get lost, you can always be found. Just know you’re not alone.”
Tears might be the first sign of new life, new possibilities. Mourn Deeply. Grieve on.
Dr. Josh Graves is a minister and writer. You can read his blog @ www.joshugraves.com or follow him on Twitter @joshgraves . His next book, "Heaven on Earth" (Abingdon with Chris Seidman) comes out in December.
Dr. Josh Graves is a minister and writer in Nashville, Tenn. (www.ottercreek.org). He is the author of three books: "Tearing down the Walls: a Guide for Muslims and Christians in North America" (2013), The Feast (2009), and "Heaven on Earth" (2012, with Chris Seidman). Josh completed doctoral studies at Columbia Theological Seminary focusing on the relationship of Christianity and Islam in the United States. He blogs at www.joshuagraves.com and tweets from @joshgraves.