I have a friend who claims that every once in a while, a person just needs a good cry. 

Why, she might go so far as to pick up a video for the express purpose of having that good cry.

Some situations are so sad, or so moving, however, that a good cry just happens. And when you haven’t cried for a while, suddenly the weight of the world with all its problems and tragedies crystallizes into that one torrent of tears.

I wrote before on the subject back in summer 1999 after I attended a huge conference in Denver. On the final night, a student from Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., addressed the crowd about the terror of April 20, 1999, when a mass shooting occurred at her high school. I cannot begin to describe the heaviness in that convention hall as this young woman shared the terror of that experience of only a few months before that left 12 students and one teacher dead.

I wrote that, in the convention hall, there was an acknowledgment on a massive scale that the world isn’t always nice, isn’t always fair, isn’t always predictable. I wrote how 9,000 solemn faces suffered right along with that Columbine student. And I wrote how we cried…but there didn’t seem to be one “good” thing about it.

Then there was Sandy Hook – a shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 dead, including 20 first-graders. As with Columbine, journalists, law enforcement, educators, politicians, doctors, theologians and scholars nearly exhausted the list of adjectives about this tragedy.

Sad. Senseless. Unthinkable. Evil. Depraved. Wicked. Devastating. Broken.

Factor in hoards of immigrants at our border, thousands afflicted with a relentless virus, missing children and a divided country, well, it’s enough to bring anyone to tears.

But sometimes we don’t have to look far from home to see tragedy, like the recent story about a Cody couple, arrested for child abuse. Their 2-year-old daughter died Sunday in a Denver hospital.

A young couple we know has a young son with such a rare, debilitating and deadly disease that only 15 kids in the whole world are afflicted. Now I’ve learned that one of my best friends is struggling as thyroid cancer has returned to her daughter, age 40. How can that be?

Such instances are the kind with no rhyme or reason, the kind that leaves us so burdened with tears – so many, many tears.

A suicide in our family has left us in that state. Then, a sudden, monstrous and previously undiagnosed episode of MS (multiple sclerosis) leaves my niece, age 42, paralyzed on her right side, unable to speak, and her mother in the role of caregiver.

And these two episodes are in the same family, less than a week apart and barely into the new year. We can’t help but wonder why.

Author and teacher Beverly Donofrio writes, “One day can change your life. One day can ruin your life. All life is, is three or four big days that change everything.”

Therein lies a lesson: Life is unpredictable, difficult and sometimes downright heartbreaking. What we enjoy today can be changed in an instant – literally.

And that’s probably why my friend says we all need a good cry.

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