‘I haven’t cried,” a client said. Days before, his 35-year-old wife had succumbed to cancer. For weeks he slogged through what he called “business mode.”

“I’m emotionally strong but I’m a little concerned about not crying,” he repeated.

“It’s normal,” I said. “You will cry one day. You will.”

We’ve all experienced deaths of friends and family. Years ago my grandfather died, the man who laughed with me, wrestled with me and taught me fun words like antidisestablishmentarianism.

Pepere put me on his lap while he played the Maine college theme songs on his piano, taught them all to me — Bowdoin, Bates, Colby, and the Maine Stein Song. We sang together.

I mastered “Chopsticks” on the keyboard with him. But a favorite of both of ours was a Naval Academy fight song, “Anchors Aweigh.” His son, my dad, had been a Navy pilot.

When my siblings and I were kids, Dad, too, played “Anchors Aweigh” — on his trumpet. We’d line up and march and sing and laugh.

It’s possible that I shed tears at Pepere’s funeral. Mostly I remember trying to hold it together for my dad, his brother and sister.

It was maybe 30 years ago, and after the burial I kept saying, “I don’t get it.”

I wanted to have death explained to me, as if my head could heal how my heart missed my Pepere. I wanted to read books about heartache, but I never let loose. I didn’t know then how to be emotionally strong and cry, too.

This losing of loved ones is universal. My dad died almost two years ago. I wrote about his life and his death. I wrote and read a eulogy at his memorial service.

I’ve talked about it, and walked with it for all these months, but I’ve squinted back tears. I mean, you move forward, right? You go on.

Recently, a friend died, a middle-aged, looking-forward-to-retirement-full-of-life, friend. Mourners said, “Tragic. Horrible.” Mostly we dabbed our moist eyes with the tissues placed in the church’s pews.

Loss happens all the time, all around us. In fact, for the past month I have been in places with very sick children, intensive care units.

I met Pastor Jane in this hospital and chatted with her about my year in 1994 as a chaplain at Maine Medical Center doing clinical pastoral education.

We talked about how, at times when crying would be natural, we sideline our feelings. We tell ourselves we have to go to work. We have to help others. “Right?’ we asked each other.

In that prolonged silence between us, we shared a truth that I first read in Jack Kornfield’s book, “A Path With Heart”: True maturation of the spiritual path requires that we discover the depth of our wounds. As (meditation instructor) Achaan Chah put it, “If you haven’t cried a number of times, your meditation hasn’t really begun.”

And then, I drove to Portland the day after Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of Navy SEALs. Flipping through radio channels, I heard one of them blast “Anchors Aweigh.”

The words blared: Anchors aweigh, my boys, anchors aweigh.

I sobbed.

One week after what would have been my dad’s 88th birthday, a year and a half after his passing, decades after my grandfather’s death, weeks after visiting babies in health crises, and two days after my friend’s funeral, the tears came.

I had no idea why the floodgates opened then. It didn’t make sense. I had no rational explanation for that moment’s river soaking my cheeks.

Grief counselors teach that when we cry for one sorrow, we cry for all past unresolved pain. We cry tears today we didn’t release yesterday. We cry here for the regrets, the failures, and the scary moments there. One day, without warning and all of a sudden, we weep for it all.

There I sat on the side of a very familiar street, parked in what is appropriately called the breakdown lane, and I remembered the words I had offered my client: “You will cry one day. Not to worry, one day you will cry.”

Susan Lebel Young teaches yoga, mindfulness and meditation. She is the author of “Lessons From a Golfer: A Daughter’s Story of Opening the Heart.” She an be reached at:

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