Are You a “Leaker” Or a “Gusher?”

My daughter-in-law, Brittney is from California.  She pronounces apricot as “āprəkät.”  I pronounce it as “aprəkät”  Who is right?  We both are!  There is no right way.  No matter how you pronounce it, they are delicious.  The same can be said for the way we process and deal with grief and pain.  Some people store it and stuff it; others express it and share it.  Some people allow their tears to flow freely; others hold them until they can no longer be contained.  Who is right?  The following is a blog I wrote seven years ago, three months after David died.  I am a “leaker.”  Brenda is a “gusher.”

Monday, January 18, 2010

I’m a leaker, she’s a gusher

Brenda says I’m a leaker.   Yes I know the word doesn’t exist in the dictionary, but it is still a good word to define one of the ways I am dealing with my grief.  For little to no reason at all, on a fairly consistent basis, my hazel eyes will begin to water and slowly leak tears.  I don’t cry inconsolably, I don’t cry for long periods of time, I just simply leak.  Saturday I was carrying down Christmas decorations to store away for another year and I saw David’s walker and wheel chair stored in the corner of our basement and I began to leak.  This morning I read a friend’s Facebook status that said,  “another Batten Disease little one passed away last night” and again I started to leak.  I sat tonight and listened to my son share his struggle dealing with his brother’s loss and you guessed it, I started to leak.  Leaking has become a normal part of my life.  A few tears escape, a quick wipe with the back of my hand or a tissue if I am lucky enough to have one on hand and on I go with life.  It keeps things from building up in my life.  It gives me an immediate way to release my sorrow.  So if you see my eyes fill up with tears and slowly begin to leak onto my cheeks, I’m OK.  I’m just releasing some of the pressure that is building up in my life.

Brenda on the other hand is a gusher.  She stores up her tears until she can’t hold them back anymore, and then she hits the release button.  She wrote the following in her journal;

“As I sit here tears are flowing from somewhere deep inside me.  The dam has been breached and the tears that have been held back for weeks are beginning to leak out.  Memories come and trigger the flow.  Fears of future loss trigger the flow.  Thoughts of other’s pain triggers the flow.  They have been gathering and waiting to be released.  Like in our creek, life flows on like the water and brings with it broken branches, leaves, and other refuse, trash thrown out by passerbys, rocks dislodged.  They hit a bend in the creek and trap the various items carried by the “flow of life.”  They begin to build up until the water is restricted.  The flow is stopped until the pressure is so great it either finds a new path or dislodges the plug in the dam.  It works the trapped refuse free and pushes it along until once again the water flows freely without resistance.  That is how I deal with my pain and all the broken bits of my life.  They jam up as a dam until somehow the flow of life triggers a release, pierces a hole in the dam.  Lord, thank you for the tears.  For walking with me through the sadness and loss.  For letting me be able to feel.”

As I have thought about our two different approaches I am reminded that there is no one correct way of dealing with grief.  Leaking is no better than gushing, and gushing is no better than leaking.  They are just different ways of releasing our sorrow.  We are still learning how to accept and allow each other the freedom to process our grief in our own ways.  As Daniel reminded us this evening, “We need to give each other some slack.”

No matter whether you are a leaker or a gusher the following verse from the book of Psalms is true:

“You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”  Psalm 56:8

Which are you?  A “leaker” or a “gusher?”