I’ve been thinking lately a lot about the importance of lament and mourning. The simple act of actually allowing ourselves to feel our grief and sadness, and responding to it by lamenting what isn’t right, and mourning what we’ve lost.
Someone on a podcast I was listening to the other day casually mentioned that they “shed some tears” after a difficult conversation, and that phrase grabbed me: we “shed” tears.
On a superficial level, of course, we are simply describing a biological event: “to pour forth in drops,” as the dictionary puts it. But we also use this word to describe how a caterpillar “sheds” old skin it doesn’t need anymore, or how a tree “sheds” leaves in the fall to prepare for winter and new life in the spring, or how a duck’s feathers “shed” water so it doesn’t get wet when it swims.
Apparently the etmyology of the word comes from the Old English sceadan, which means “to divide, separate, part company” (among other things).
I wonder what else we shed when we shed tears. We all feel better after a “good cry,” so I wonder if shedding tears also sheds us of the toxicity (emotional and physical, I’d imagine) of ignoring or suppressing our grief.
When we shed tears, we allow old, useless things to fall away, making room for new life to spring up.