Lessons from an Ugly Cry

Longtime readers know I’m from an impossibly huge family.  I have 8 sisters and 4 brothers, along with cousins, aunts, and uncles galore.  We recently gathered in Michigan to celebrate the life of my brother in a lovely memorial service officiated by my sister, a pastor in the Methodist church.

After the service, everyone stayed for a day or two for visit and to reconnect.  It’s sad to think that the only reason we gather is for weddings and funerals, but it is also a reality of our scattered lives.  I wonder if that’s true for you as well.

Ugly cry

While visiting and reflecting with my sister on her experience of conducting a service for a loved one, she admitted a lot of anxiety.  Mostly it was the ugly cry.  “What if I break out in an ugly cry in front of everyone?  If I can’t hold it together, no one else will!”

I agreed.  Holding it together was hard.

“But, you know,” she continued, “On the trip here, I realized that this is my brother!  Of course, I’m sad and could be overcome by my grief.  Who wouldn’t be?”

Then, she said the most profound thing, “When I gave myself permission to ugly cry in front of everyone, I could relax.  Then, I could focus on creating a memorial service that honored him.”

The service was lovely; we shared our grief together, ugly cries notwithstanding.


But, did you get that?  She gave herself permission.

When you imagine the worst and realize you can live with it, then you’ve released the bonds that keep you small.  You have permission to carry on.

Permission is your way of saying yes to yourself – no matter what.  When we have permission, we can let go of the anxiety and self-consciousness that accompanies any attempt at change and growth.   We can live with whatever consequences show up.

Permission helps you be brave.

Permission = YES!

I am now giving myself permission to speak up louder, to create more boldly and to forgive my bumbling self from my many oblivious oversights.

Where will you give yourself permission?

8 Replies to "Lessons from an Ugly Cry"

  • Carol Nelson
    July 13, 2018 (3:52 am)

    This was quite profound. Love it. You write very well!!!

    • Debra
      July 13, 2018 (6:26 pm)

      Thanks, Carol!

  • Anne Marie Talon
    July 13, 2018 (6:42 pm)

    This post, and the poem in your newsletter today, are just beautiful. I cried happy, sentimental tears. Thank you for that. We will all miss Howard <3

    • Debra
      July 13, 2018 (6:52 pm)

      Yes, Anne Marie, he was quite the guy. Glad you liked the synchronicity of the poem with the post.

  • Ginger
    July 13, 2018 (8:50 pm)

    Thank you for your warm words of our siblings. I will miss Howard’s laughter most of all, and treasure Edie’s eloquence for years to come. Aren’t we a blessed family!?

    • Debra
      July 13, 2018 (9:09 pm)

      Blessed indeed. So, what permission did you give yourself?

  • Peggy
    July 14, 2018 (1:45 am)

    What a profound insight, and what perfect timing! Thank you.

    • Debra
      July 14, 2018 (1:51 am)

      Thanks so much, Peggy. Sometimes sisters DO know what they’re talking about, LOL! I’m curious why the timing was perfect. Did you give yourself permission for something?

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