Tear Bottles…

(Confessions of a Grieving Mother Blog)Sunday, November 20, 2011

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power.

They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.”

~Washington Irving~

For me as a grieving mother I am comforted by the idea that God saves and knows every tear that I have cried. In the first few months alone I am sure I cried an ocean full of tears. I am not sure if when I get to Heaven I expect to see all my tears or if God will show me shelves full of tear bottles that He used to save my tears in. I believe that God saves each one of my tears as treasures.

In ancient Roman and Egyptian times it is said that people used small glass vessels or bottles to collect the tears. These tears were used as a way to show mourning and respect for the loss. These bottles were sometimes placed in the tombs as a symbol of respect. There are legends to indicate that some women may have been paid to cry into the bottles as they walked in the mourning procession. It was rumored that the ones crying the loudest and producing the most tears would receive the highest compensation for their tears. The deceased person was to be said to be more important or valued by the number of tear bottles in the tomb.

            Tear bottles have been part of our world’s history since before Christ was born. It is hard to say when the tear bottles first began. A Biblical reference in Psalms, when David prays to God, was written over 1000 years before Christ was born.

            Tear bottles reappeared during the Victorian period of the 19th century. The tears were collected into tear bottles that were ornately decorated with silver, gold and pewter on the outside. Once filled the bottles had special stopper that allowed the tears to evaporate out of the bottle. It was thought that once the tears were evaporated, the mourning period would be over.

            Tear bottles today are given to symbolize shared feelings of joy, love, sorrow and remembrance for others. It is also a very meaningful gift to give in times of sadness, such as an illness or a death. It also acknowledges that you realize that tears are a part of the sadness and that it is ok to cry. Something that is needed much more in today’s society.

I recently found out about tear bottles. I have decided that I will be giving these as tokens of love to my loved ones that are grieving. I think it is very symbolic and honoring to the one who died and to the one that remains here. I purchased mine and over the next few months will be purchasing 3 more for the time being. As special as tear bottles are…my hope and prayer is that I do not have to give many of these away…

Tears do not have to be sad, they can be at moments of great joy. The most moving tears I have seen was Aunt Missy crying tears of great joy the moment Pea was born. Bill captured the moment with a photo. Looking back now it is an amazing photo. The amount of overwhelming joy and love that Heather had for Pea spilled out at the moment she took her first breath. 

The most moving tear that I believe I will ever see is a tear that Heather had one night in ICU. Heather was on the vent and we had come back to tuck our turnip in for the night. She was heavily sedated, but the paralytic drug had not yet been given. As I leaned down to whisper in her ear goodnight, Heather turned her face to me to snuggle into my face. I told her I loved her and how proud I was of her. When I raised my face to see her again she had a tear fall out of her eye. I have no idea what that tear meant, but I think it was a tear of great love. These would be the last tears I ever saw from her.

But grief is very selfish—My child died, I hurt, I am lonely and need friends to understand, I need to be comforted by loved ones and I am angry. When a child dies it is a natural reaction to focus on ourselves. Grieving is very re-identifying myself. I could not focus outward. I feel there is something wrong with me because I always felt good at the holidays before but now I feel bad and am not able to find my giving spirit.

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