In difficult times it helps to let go and cry. Tears are therapeutic. Crying relieves stress and gets us in touch with inner feelings. Usually we feel better after we cry. Interest in tears goes way back. Ovid, in 42 B.C. said, “It is a relief to weep.” Mr. Bumble, in Charles Dickens Oliver Twist said: “Crying opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes and softens down the temper. So cry away.”
The tears we shed when we are sad have a different chemical composition than those shed when we peel an onion or when we tear up from irritants such as wind or dust. Tears are our body’s way of removing harmful chemicals that build up due to stress. Research at the University of Pittsburgh compared a group of healthy people to a group who had stress related illnesses. The responses showed that the healthy men and women cry more often and accept their tears, while those with illnesses viewed tears negatively.
Crying isn’t easy. Even those who seem to cry easily may avoid their deeper feelings, only allowing a few tears to escape at emotional moments. Our frozen feelings are submerged out of sight, like an ice berg. They’re too painful to face, we think, so we deny them. We avoid inner pain from childhood, from failed relationships, from the loss of loved ones and from life’s disappointments. And we experience daily frustrations in which we feel like crying but don’t.
Ann Kaiser Stearns in her book, Living Through Personal Crisis, says that “healing involves being willing to hurt more in order to hurt less.” Tears are very effective in helping us mourn losses in life, in helping us grieve and let go of the past and in helping us release tension from the daily frustrations of life. When we block out painful feelings we also block all feelings to some extent. Crying is good for the soul.
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35