Forty-something British men are not supposed to cry. Well then, I am no archetypal British male because I have wept lots. Indeed, unburdening myself with a flood of tears has been cathartic. However, I have always wanted to cry under my volition, not to someone else’s cue. So there have been occasions when, to avoid breaking down in public, I have had to call on a great deal of good old British stoicism.

One such moment came during a meditation at a Buddhist family festival. I don’t remember the exact words of the person leading the meditation, but the general idea was that, while laying on my mat, I was to look at whatever emotions I was clinging to so that I could begin a healing process. As I will freely admit to burying some feelings about Abi’s illness, I found myself close to sobbing at the suggestion. However, I didn’t want to do that in such a public space. In fact, I became angry at the idea that my pain could be so easily healed; some things cannot be solved lying on your back in a field. So I found the explanation far too simplistic. Unfortunately, the episode stirred lots of worries and I spent the next few days struggling with my emotions. And then, one morning, a few days later, I finally managed to unburden myself by telling some friends why I had become so withdrawn. I find her condition tough to talk about so openly without getting emotional, so I did cry a little then. But later I found a quiet corner to go and have a proper cry, alone. That made me feel much better.

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