There Is A Sacredness In Tears

I try not to talk about work too much on Brown is the New Pink for a couple of reasons. First, I want to respect the privacy of the veterans and families with whom I work. Obviously I legally cannot talk about certain details due to HIPAA regulations, but I prefer to be even more cautious than my legal restraints. Second, the blog is a creative outlet for me to step away from work. Social work can be an emotionally exhausting field, and Brown is the New Pink helps me leave work at work. It’s impossible to leave everything behind, but blogging helps me. However, there are some lessons that I learn through my work that are worth sharing and discussing.

As a medical social worker, discharge planning a substantial part of my job, but my most important role is to look out for the psychosocial needs of patients and families. I routinely work with people during some of the most stressful and difficult days of their lives. I work alongside families through amputations, devastating stokes, and the always difficult decision to start hospice care. Because I address what happens in the future after the patient leaves the hospital, I think losses become more salient to patients and families. I also try to create a space in which family members and caregivers can take a breath and evaluate how they are feeling. When people stop to think about the future or when the reality of the situation sets in, people often cry. And more often than not, people apologize for crying. I know it may fall on deaf ears, but I always tell them that it is okay to cry. I reassure them that it is completely normal — that tears are an expression of grief and love.

Every time I find myself in this role, I think of the beautiful quote below. I also need to think of this quote for myself, and I hope you will think of it for yourself. Tears are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of love.

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness but of power. They are messengers of overwhelming grief and of unspeakable love.”  – Washington Irving


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