A Time Out for Tears

by Pat, a Survivor

I really didn't understand what you meant when you asked what I do when my laboring patient stops and cries. I know I let her cry. I offer my support, sometimes in the form of my hand on hers. Sometimes I give her a tissue. Sometimes I pray for strength for her. At times I even cry with her. All I could think of when you asked that question was that I let her cry. I accept her tears. And I thought--that's what I want. I just want to be accepted in my grief, in my weakness, in my tears.

I mourned again this week. I hurt so much at times I think I will die. My kids are enough to keep me going. I love them too much to give up. And I place my hope in God. When I called you to pray for me I was at the bottom, where the pain just has to let up. I thought about your question. When I'm the nurse I see the whole process. I know the beginning from the end and all the steps in between. When my laboring patient cries, she stops coping for a while. But I know the end will come. She can't see it because she is in it and I know the process will continue to the point of birth (and, oh, the joy and relief that brings!)

Now I see that when I cry, I stop coping for a while. Yes, I need to be able to do that and I need your acceptance and support. You can see the whole process--the beginning from the end and all the in-between places. You know that when God begins a work of healing, He continues the process to the end. You are a counselor and friend (a nurse) and have seen the process again and again. You know God, what He is like, and you trust Him for the best, truest, most just resolution of that process in each life (I mean you know the end is going to be good because God is good.)

After her tears, I know my patient must continue to labor. Her time out was just that'time out. The tears don't stop the labor process. It goes on, no matter, and she must continue. So I gently encourage her to begin again. Sometimes she can begin on her own by using the techniques she relied on before. Sometimes I start her again by getting eye to eye with her and telling her to 'breathe with me.'

That's what you meant. I can take time out but the process will continue. I must keep going. I must keep putting one foot in front of the other. I must find out what the next step is and take it even when the next step (such as making dinner) has nothing to do with why I'm crying--when I'm awash with grief over a past loss.

I also know that in labor the pains get closer and are hardest just before birth.