My father’s death started a current of events that carried me through the following week. There was so much to be done in such a short time that there was hardly time for me to process what had happened. Family and friends needed to be notified. The burial plot needed to be chosen. We had to go to the funeral home to select the casket and make arrangements. We had to meet with the pastor. We planned and hosted a family dinner at a local restaurant, and there were guests to receive. In between all of that, my sister and I had to find time to gather photos for Dad’s slide show and help finalize his obituary.
Time passed before I was able to start working through my own emotions. I knew my dad was gone, but I could still see and hear him vividly in my mind. His posts and comments were still visible on Facebook as if he had just made them. I could call his phone and listen to his voice.
I’ve never liked to cry, so I have a tendency to fight tears, usually by distracting myself with humor. When tears welled in my eyes, I fought them back, thinking, “What’s the point?!” But I knew that there was a point, that crying had a purpose.
It was during this time that something relevant popped up on my Facebook feed.
A Closer Look at Tears
Did you know that there are different types of tears and that they vary in their composition? I didn’t. Rose-Lynn Fisher used microscopes to photograph different types of human tears. Her images fascinated me, so I asked permission to share one of her photographs. This particular image was taken of her own tears when she was grieving her father’s death. I was struck by the heart-shaped patterns, and the open-ended ones that looked like something had broken free of their grasp.
In her examination of the tears she photographed, she “contemplated the poetry of life: what tears mean to our evolving awareness about being human, reflecting on what connects humanity at the most basic levels of empathy, compassion.”
The photographs themselves give us a closer look at the tears’ composition: emotional tears contain protein-based hormones including leucine enkephalin, a natural painkiller that is released when the body is under stress. One of the many ways that our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made.
As sad as it is to lose Dad, the things that have comforted me most were his faith in God, and my belief that he passed just as he would have wanted to: at home, in his chair, and with my mother.
One of our minister friends once said something to the effect of, “If we [Christians] really believed what we say we believe, we’d be on the Dunkin’ Donuts fast track to heaven.” That really stuck with me. If I believe in a beautiful place called Heaven, and I believe that my father is there, and that we will be reunited someday, what do I have to cry about? I will miss him, yes, but why would I want to deprive him of the beautiful reward he is now experiencing to wish him back on earth? Isn’t that what we are striving toward?
Knowing that God designed tears to be beneficial, and seeing the photographic evidence, encourages me to let them flow, however my eternal perspective and the hope it gives me overshadow the loss I’m feeling. I can’t help but envision my father in the company of Jesus, free of evil and a worn-out body.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”Revelation 21:4 (NIV)
January 31st was my father’s birthday. Happy first birthday celebration in heaven, Dad!
To learn more about tears through fascinating photographs, you can visit her Rose-Lynn Fisher’s website: https://rose-lynnfisher.com/tears.html
Read more about Rose-Lynn Fisher’s Topography of Tears from Smithsonian Magazine.
Firmly Rooted – How my faith helps me cope with the downs of life.