It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man . . .
Growing up in the 80s, I was a big fan of R&B, and one of the many great songs that came out of that era of music was entitled All Cried Out by Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, also of Lost in Emotion, Can You Feel the Beat, and Head to Toe fame. (And no, that wasn’t a typo, the band’s name actually contains two Lisas.)
All Cried Out is a gut wrenching song, mostly because of the vocals. The hauntingly sad vocals are so effective in evoking the depth of the singer’s grief, that she could be lamenting the loss of her car keys and it would still be an equally sad song. But thankfully, the writers decided not to make the object of their song about lost keys or even spilled milk, but of a love lost.
When it released in 1986, All Cried Out reached number eight on the U.S. Billboard charts and number three on the R&B singles chart (and a remake of the song was produced in 1997 by the band Allure).
For those like me who enjoyed R&B back in the 80s (before it jumped off a cliff in the 90s and beyond), this is one of those songs you instantly remember when it comes on the radio, especially if you were experiencing pain or heartbreak at the time the song originally came out.
And for those who have a natural affinity for songs about heartbreak and loss, how could you not be drawn to this song’s melancholy melody and the despairing vocals, especially when combined with such grief-stricken lyrics like these:
All alone on a Sunday morning
Outside I see the rain is falling
Inside I’m slowly dying
But the rain will hide my crying, crying, crying
Don’t you know the heart will cause an inferno
Romance up in flames, why should I take the blame
You were the one who left me neglected (I’m so sorry)
Apology not accepted, add me to the broken hearts you collected
Just as I am irresistibly drawn to the many Lukas Graham songs that make reference to his father’s untimely death and how it affected him as a young man (e.g. You’re Not There, Happy Home, Here, Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me, and 7 Years), I also gravitate toward melancholy books and movies. It’s why even my own books don’t necessarily have the happiest of endings. After all, in real life the lost dog doesn’t always return home, and the glass slipper doesn’t always fit the princess.
Even though I’ve always found All Cried Out to be an incredibly sad song (but in a beautiful way . . . if that makes any sense), I have never, in all my life, experienced the phenomenon that comprises the title of the song, namely, being all cried out.
I can now say, however, that after two straight weeks in the valley of unparalleled grief that began the day we found out about Kohen’s cancer, I am no longer a stranger to this phenomenon. I now know what it’s like to be all cried out.
But what exactly is it? What does it really mean to be all cried out?
It’s when you’ve cried so much—and so frequently—that you’ve simply reached a point where even though the waves of emotion continue coming to envelope you, you’ve lost the very ability to cry. You feel yourself crying–and your eyes swell with tears–yet the tears remain where they originate, never breaking forth. Biologically speaking, you’re simply no longer able to muster the necessary amount of moisture to cry. It’s crying, but without the ability to produce the tears.
I suppose that at this stage of Kohen’s cancer, it’s a good time to be all cried out because now is the time to begin the nearly year-long fight to save his life. We’re going to lose his leg, there’s no way around that, but we’re determined to not lose his life.
Perhaps being all cried out aids in my determination to do battle by not allowing me the time (or luxury) to wallow in my grief any more. Whether being all cried out is a normal phenomenon in these kinds of situations or a personal blessing in disguise, I do not know. But what I do know is being all cried out is a real thing, and it took me nearly fifty years to finally experience it. I only wish I hadn’t.