A common misperception among many stroke survivors, their families and loved ones is the notion that crying is a weakness. In an attempt to portray a false image of strength and courage, many hold back their tears, causing the body additional physical and emotional distress. Have you ever met anyone who jumps for joy when someone they know and care about is diagnosed with a debilitating chronic condition? As a matter of fact, wouldn’t you question their sanity if tragic news would not bring them sadness or grief? What makes us feel and believe that crying is socially sanctioned?
Often people apologize for breaking into tears in public. Crying makes people nervous as many don’t know how to deal with or what to do or say to someone who is crying. But ask yourself, why on earth would anyone cry if it did not serve a purpose. In infancy, crying keeps infants alive, ensuring their survival. In adulthood, crying is a way of showing, sharing and communicating our emotions and concerns with others. As adults we cry our hearts out for many reasons. We cry for help. We shed tears for joy and sadness. We even see tears in celebration of accomplishments. When we cry and allow others to do the same, tears mark our solidarity with others. Our tears indicate that we understand their feelings and are able to sympathize with their situation. Have you noticed that when we cry in a group, we notice an extraordinary, powerful and meaningful experience when we turn to one another and notice tears in everyone’s eyes. There is even scientific research suggesting crying to be an inborn healing mechanism, or a way of removing toxins that build up with stress.
What makes crying to be a healing source rather than a hindrance is what we tell ourselves when we cry. Some tend to call themselves stupid and dumb, feeling ridiculous and at times angry for being sad and tearful. Others console themselves, acknowledging their tears, and recognizing that crying is a step forward in the healing process.
Crying is an amazing emotional outlet, a useful tool in your emotional kit bag. You don’t need to use it all the time, but there are those occasions when crying becomes the most effective tool to successfully complete a task. Imagine if you were given the task of carrying an extraordinary heavy pitcher overflowing with water without spilling a drop. Crying is like letting go of the extra water that makes carrying a loss so heavy and unbearable to handle. You let some of the water go, and carrying it becomes more manageable. When life brings us to tears, a good weep from time to time might be the best remedy. As Eileen Mayhew instructs, “let your tears come, let them water your soul.”
A few more thoughts to keep in mind as you ask for more tissues:
- Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. ~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, 1860
- The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears. ~John Vance Cheney
- Tearless grief bleeds inwardly. ~Christian Nevell Bovee
- Heavy hearts, like heavy clouds in the sky, are best relieved by the letting of a little water. ~Antoine Rivarol
- To weep is to make less the depth of grief. ~William Shakespeare, King Henry the Sixth
- It is some relief to weep; grief is satisfied and carried off by tears. ~Ovid
- Tears are summer showers to the soul. ~Alfred Austin, Savonarola
- What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul. ~Jewish Proverb
- The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep. ~Henry Maudsley
- Tears are the safety valve of the heart when too much pressure is laid on it. ~Albert Smith