I came across "Cry, Heart, But Never Break" very randomly in the spring of 2016 on a site called Brain Pickings. I read the book's review of the general story line and was deeply touched, since I had lost my grandmother several months earlier. It was the first time someone very close to me passed away. I loved her very much and was devastated that I could not be with her, since I was in New York City at the time. I mourned her loss in the following months and this book somehow comforted my soul immensely. I felt like I was one of the little children in the book, not knowing exactly what was going on. I grew up very sheltered from tragedies of life and never went to a funeral of a family member, as death is a taboo topic in Mongolia, especially for children. The first thing that my mother told me after she told me about my grandmother's passing was that I should not cry, because it is bad that we should mourn so intensely for someone who died a natural death, and that crying after her death does not let her rest in peace.
I started thinking about how people mourn in Mongolia and remembered we don't even say the names of the deceased. Most people suppress their grief. Since life expectancy is quite low in Mongolia, people deal with death from a very young age, but there aren’t enough mental health support system or coping mechanisms available. People my parents age in Mongolia die at the age of grandparents in the US. It is one reason that many turn to alcoholism to cope with life's tragedies. In short, we do not know how to talk about death except to say that it is part of life and we should try not to cry too much.
"Cry, Heart, But Never Break" took me on a journey of emotions that expressed the confusion, sadness, and helplessness of my inner child and helped me find peace with my loss. After experiencing such comfort through this book, I wanted to share this book with others in my country, both children and adults, so they could process death in a gentle way and start a healthy conversation about it. So I reached out to Robert Moulthrop and to request the process to translate the book into Mongolian.
The book has since been translated into Mongolian and we are now in the process of selecting a publisher in Mongolia. I hope that this book will be the beginning of breaking a taboo around death and bring solace to many souls in Mongolia, both young and old.
I thank Glenn Ringtved and Charlotte Pardi for creating the original version, and Robert Moulthrop and Enchanted Lion Books for translating it into English in what began as a sweet serendipity. "Cry, Heart, But Never Break" continues to touch hearts one country at a time through many tender moments.
Aza Tsogtsaikhan is the Founding Board Member of Lantuun Dohio USA, an NGO that fights human trafficking, domestic violence, and protects children's rights in Mongolia.