Have you had a good cry lately?

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“If someone cries in front of me, I consider it a gift.” , a friend told me one Saturday afternoon.


Every third Saturday of the month, I receive this gift during the monthly meeting of The Compassionate Friends. I am honored to receive it.

It’s quite common to hear oh she is so brave! when the broken-hearted person appears controlled and poised in the face of grief. How is someone supposed to feel when their heart is broken?

And yet we continue to admire those who do not show their grief in public, who receive condolences as though the occasion were a pleasant Sunday afternoon blabber. He was so brave. I was proud of him. He didn’t break down, not once, and so on and so forth…we hear people say.

Really, whose benefit is this tight hold on our emotions? For the griever’s sake? For the sake of the consoling friends, who may be afraid of being swept into their grief?

Crying tears is not just for those that lost a loved one.

If a little kid says May I cry or should I be brave?, how should the mother react? There is conflicting feelings about crying. It is difficult to allow children the freedom of tears because most of us were stopped from crying when we were little. Our well-meaning, but misinformed, parents may have distracted, scolded, punished, or ignored us when we attempted to heal our childhood hurts by crying. Some of us were stopped gently: “There, there, come on, don’t cry,” while others were stopped less kindly: “If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about! So stop it….”

You probably read somewhere that crying is somehow good for us. William Shakespeare, for instance wrote, “To weep is to make less the depth of grief.” The poet Alfred Lord Tennyson once wrote about a woman who learned her husband had been killed. “She must weep,” the writer said, “or she will die.”

According to Dr. William Frey, a biochemist and director of the Dry Eye and Tear Research Center in Minneapolis, Minn., one reason people might feel better after crying could be because they are “removing, in their tears, chemicals that build up during emotional stress.” Frey’s research shows that tears, along with other bodily secretions like perspiration, rid the body of various toxins and wastes. Dr. William Frey compared the normal moisturizing tear with the tear caused by emotion and found that stressful tears contained ACTH or adrenocorticotrophic hormone. ACTH is a hormone associated with high blood pressure, heart problems, peptic ulsers and other physical conditions closely related to stress.

There is just one word of caution about crying.

People who cry easily should feel glad they’re in touch with their feelings. But if they’re crying a lot in response to criticism, they should try to get some counseling. This kind of crying is an alarm bell of a far deeper hurt; it could signify a loss of self-esteem that is triggered whenever anyone says anything negative.

Probably the best advice of all regarding tears comes from Charles Dickens. In Oliver Twist, Mr. Bumble, the parish beadle, is a less than sympathetic character. But he’s got the right idea when he declares that crying “opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes, and softens the temper.

So when another friend wept in front of me today, I understood the gift of healing.

Have you had a good cry lately?

Photo via Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado (1388 Posts)

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ gmail.com) for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.

  • The last hard cry that I made was around 12 years ago, when I almost lost my daughter a day after she was born. She is our first baby, and a long time dream for us.

    I believe that crying is not act of cowardliness and surrender. It is actually a great relief for me.

    By the way, I checked your The Compassionate Friends and I feel like joining in.


    Angel Cualas last blog post..How to write effective Product Reviews

    • yes you can as a volunteer

  • jenny

    i just had my “good cry” early this month when we celebrated for the first time my eldest daughter 10th year bday without her. It’s so hard when we were doing the planning of the party, i even cried during wee hours of the night when i remember the date is coming. I don’t know if i will survive the day, it’s soo odd, doing all the preparation, ordering a cake, balloons and ice cream but the celebrant is not with us. But it’s just comforting that the actual party did okay. and doing these things for my piglet made me feel really good. as i know she is also happy up there, imagine.. her very first party in heaven.. with all the angels parting with her :)….

    But you know… sorry i still missed the TCF meeting.. hoping i can attend in the future.. i’m still trying to muster enough strength.

    but thanks noemi, although we haven’t met, you are helping me in my grieving process….Bless you.. as i always tell i hope something i can also reach the level of tranquility that you have right now, the positive outlook in life, the belief that amids all of these things.. there is still hope…..hope to be happy again…

    • it seems at this point of your grieving process that happiness will never be possible. Just go with the flow. feel sad if you have to. One day, it won’t be as painful. the pain will always be there. We learn to live with it.

  • Sometimes, we shed tears of joy. I just did a couple of hours ago: when I saw that I passed the September 2008 licensure exam for teachers. I felt happy that a new path (at 51) is unfolding before me. I hope I will be able to inspire others to learn for life as you give hope to those who grieve.

    Thank you Noemi.

    amomandmores last blog post..PRC LET September 2008 Exam Results Out — Thank God I passed!

  • I’m the type who easily cries. I cry whenever I watch touching movie scenes or read sad stories. I also shed tears when I feel overwhelmed with happiness. When I’m sad or troubled, I feel better after a good cry.

    Rach (Heart of Rachel)s last blog post..Yohan’s Eye Infection

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