Monday, October 22, 2012

OT: It Takes a Real Man to Cry

I have been following obakesan's [Chris] blog for a long time.  The articles are always thoughtful, thorough, and have good content.  But lately, after the untimely passing of his wife, he has written many heart warming, thought provoking essays on coping with the loss of loved ones.  They are helpful not just for releasing his own grieves, but will also be immensely helpful for others in the same situation.  Too many people, especially men, have locked up their feelings inside, fearing that being emotional is a sign of weakness.  This could lead to tragic endings.

I lost my father due to lung cancer.  He was a heavy smoker until two years before his death. He tried, but could not quit smoking.  When he finally succeeded, it was too late.  Dying of cancer is one of the worst ways to end one's life.  It was painful and anguish to see a person full of life and vigor slowly getting weaker, helpless and finally wittered.  In so many ways, a sudden death would have been a blessing.  

My father and I were not very close, as I grew up with my mother and I didn't see him again until I was 16, but I always corresponded with him in regular intervals.  No, my parents were not divorced, but they were separated, not in legal sense, but physically.  My father left China when I was very young, and we didn't re-unite in Canada until I was 16.

I was confused upon my father's death.  I didn't know how I was supposed to feel.  I felt sad, but not overly so and I thought I would have forgotten him very soon.  This is just not true. In fact, I thought about him more now than before.  At times, I even felt like crying. Fortunately, my wife and I are very close and we talk to each other about this often.  It has been a great help to me and I am very thankful to have someone to discuss our inner feelings.

It takes a real man to cry and talk about his emotions.  I know Chris will live his life to the fullest, because he is taking steps to recover and heal.  Losing someone does not mean you have to stop and forever morn the loss and be trapped in it until the end of time. For sure, we will be reminded often of the loved ones we lost, but it should bring back happy memories which add to the richness our lives. It's part of life's journey, knowing that life would have been far worse without those memories we shared with loved ones.  So, open up. Cry if you have to, and talk about it, but don't keep the grief inside you.


  1. Yu-lin, thank you for your kind words about my blog. I feel I understand what you mean about your father. I also had a shaky relationship with mine. In the final year of his life as I was discovering his medical issues I managed to move past that anger that I had contained over the years over our conflicts and differences. By the time he was a shrunken man that I was wheeling around in a wheel chair between oncology and palliative care specialists I came to the realisation that not only could he no longer hurt me, but that I felt sorry for him.

    I wondered to Anita if when he died I would feel anything, would I be touched or would I feel simply nothing?

    The evening before he died Anita and I were there by his bed side. He was feeling very lonely and so my wife just held his hand for some hour or so and I fed him some cherries (which he loved). He too had lost his partner (not my mother) of some 12 years just only the month before, and was clearly very distressed by this. I can say with some confidence that it is why he "dropped his bundle" and passed on rather quickly in his last month.

    When the nursing home called me in the morning to say that he had passed on (at about 11am the next day) I was numb but functional. When I entered the room and saw him laying there on the bed I burst into tears and took some time to form words. After a time I was able to say things again, and as I was leaving I patted him on the shoulder and went to say "I'll see you at the funeral mate". But the touch of his body was suddenly like something penetrating me. The unyeilding and dead nature of his corpse became more apparent to me than simply seeing it.

    Over the next few weeks (I have had only that) I spoke with Anita often about this, and how I felt. She knew well the many things I had said about my father in the previous years, and she had only met him briefly in 2007 and then in 2010 when we came back to Australia from Finland. These conversations (and all those at the funeral) really helped me to put to rest in my own mind my father and our relationship.

    Thanks again for your kindness.

    1. Thank for sharing your story. Often we don't know how we truly feel until long after things are over. Being humans we are a confused lot with conflicting emotions. I know you will do well. Men like you are going through life with many ups and downs, but that makes you stronger than most. At the end, you can proudly tell yourself that you have lived, while many others merely stayed alive until the end.

  2. oh, and yes, I agree that bottling it up is just the worst solution.