Chapman: ‘The Year of Tears’

By BETH CHAPMAN / Community Columnist

It has been one year since the death of my husband, James. After 23 years of marriage I did not think life would go on without him, but it has.

When we visited Hawaii years ago, we learned of an old tradition there called “The Year of Tears.” Once a person died, their family and friends allowed themselves one year to cry — to grieve. Then on the first year anniversary of the death they would hold a huge party to celebrate the person’s life and the completion of the year of tears.

Chapman (Contributed)

A year of tears is not enough for me or anyone else. They say a person grieves to the extent of which they loved, so for me the “Millennium of Tears” might be more appropriate.

I do not write seeking pity, but to share a few of the things I have learned over the course of the last year:

As the old gospel song says, “The God of the mountain is still God in the valley, the God of the daytime is still God in the night.” He gives peace and comfort to the brokenhearted. He will never leave us nor forsake us.

People care. There are many kind people who love you and want to help, even when they don’t know how.

Your friends are always with you. Their love is unconditional. They help ease the sadness and pain. They have big hearts to love and even bigger ears to hear — broad shoulders on which to cry.

I am not alone, thousands of people lose their spouses each year and some even worse — they lose a child.

Life goes on just in different ways. God presents you with opportunities to help others and allows you time to love the ones you still have left in your life with even more intensity.

You have to remember the good times on Earth and know that you will be reunited in Heaven.

You can help others who will go through what you have been through because of the help of those who have gone through it and helped you. “Lifting as we climb,” is an appropriate motto.

So while there has been a year of tears, it is not enough, but hopefully the lessons learned will help others yet to experience the year at all — for inevitably they will.

Beth Chapman, Alabama’s secretary of state, is a Shelby County resident and writes a weekly column for the Shelby County Reporter. You can reach her at