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— by Katrina Taee Katrina Taee
man crying sad tears grief loss bereavement

Do you wear your heart on your sleeve and cry easily and willingly (and maybe for you, embarrassingly), at the smallest of triggers? A sentimental card, a beautiful view, a sad movie, good or bad news alike can set your tears off.  

Perhaps you are someone who is not given to tears at all.  It takes the most cataclysmic of events to induce your tears, or maybe being completely at the end of your tether or tolerance.

What is difficult to negotiate, is the judgement of each group, from the other side of the fence. The criers may think the dry-eyes ones are ‘hard-hearted’, ‘lack feelings’, ‘don’t care’ or maybe are ‘in denial’.  The slow to tears group may judge the criers, ‘overly sensitive’, 'too much to handle’, being 'demonstrative’, or simply ‘ridiculous’, though all these thoughts are not usually voiced out loud!

The period of time when this might get judged the most, is during a  bereavement or periods of loss. The cultural expectation is that people cry when someone they love has died, a relationship has finished, a partner has abandoned them or someone got ill. We expect to be met by someone weeping when we visit to give support or condolences. If we aren’t, we might flip the other way and think something akin to, ‘she is so brave’, ‘he is holding up so well’ or ‘oh…he’s OK then’. The assumption being, ‘they don’t need me here or require my help’.
The point is that neither way is right nor wrong.
I think it is a great mistake to assume that people, who don’t cry, don’t feel. They do, very deeply in fact. Tears are only one way in which people might grieve or ‘show’ their sadness. Another way is deep sighing. The act of sighing helps expel deeply held feelings without words. People often don’t know they are doing it as it is a natural response to deep feelings. It really works, try it yourself sometime.

Copious tears are OK too, there should be no shame if you are someone who cries a lot. Hormones levels, stress and tiredness all have their place to play in the speed of the crying response.  There is some research which suggests that emotional tears contain stress hormones, which the body is able to physically expel in the tears. You may experience that sense of feeling better after a ‘good cry’. Other research shows that crying triggers the body to release ‘feel-good’ endorphins (similar to when people exercise or laugh). So there is a purpose to tears above and beyond the expression of sadness, grief and loss.

Men are often constrained by cultural messages which get passed down to them through generations such as   ‘boys don’t cry’, ‘don’t be such a baby’, ‘man up’, ‘get up and get on, you need to be strong’, and many more.  This is a great shame because men need to cry too. As a counsellor, I aim to help men feel comfortable to express their emotions, whether it is through tears and/or words in the counselling room. Sometimes it just is easier to cry away from the home environment.

Whether you are prone to tears or not, one of my favorite quotes written by Washington Irving says;

 “There is a sacredness in tears. They’re not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief….and unspeakable love.”

If you want to explore your deeply felt emotions, that are hard to contain or understand, then contact my counselling service.  You will be welcomed, tears or no tears.

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Photo credit: adam_moralee / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA