A neighborhood drowning in grief:
Cathy’s son is dead.
She rests on her husband’s shoulders
Wailing in agony.
I provide a few words of solace
And a warm, friendly hug
The rest of the crowd looks to me –
As if expecting something.
My eyes are blinded by grief,
But can spare no tears
Is grief really grief
Without its outward expression?
I look ahead achingly
To moments of sadness and pain,
Regret and loss,
Brimming with bottles of borrowed tears
My suffering is stolen –
A chunk of me gone
Yet what remains of me rejoices
In laughter and hope.
This poem describes the personal experience of a patient with chronic dry eye syndrome and her inability to produce tears. Tears act as our emotional release valves and can be a way of coping with grief. When this innately human experience is taken away, patients may experience intense frustration and anxiety. It can be difficult to communicate their inability to cry during inopportune times, especially in situations where outward expression of tears is expected. Grappling with the complexities of their condition as well as incorporating effective coping strategies such as seeking social/emotional support, mindfulness, yoga etc., can be a long and challenging journey for some patients.
Download a copy of Hidden Tears – Sanjana Sundara Raj Sreenath
Bio: Sanjana Sundara Raj Sreenath is a medical student at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center – El Paso. She is interested in graphical illustrations and narrative medicine.