Crying, lamenting, sobbing and wailing — all of these allow us to discharge our pain so we can heal. The sadness and despair, when repressed, don’t just disappear. Instead, they go underground in your psyche where the pain, unfortunately, intensifies. The feelings are not gone, they are merely buried alive. They then re-emerge at a later time and can cause chronic stress, depression, stomach ulcers, and even a nervous breakdown.
One of the unexpectedly wonderful aspects of crying is that expressing our grief allows us to experience the strength of our aliveness. Our tears let us know we were truly connected to another and that the love we felt was real. Crying releases us from our grief and reaffirms our ability to love and be loved.
You may find some people in your life trying to discourage you from crying. We have all grown up with warnings about not being a “crybaby” or that “real men don’t cry.” However, crying is the most natural thing in the world for humans to do. Studies show that real healing takes place when we give ourselves permission to cry. I’m sure you’ve often heard people say they needed a good cry and how much better they felt afterward.
If the people in your life are making you feel uncomfortable about crying, here are a few tips I have tried in order to feel safe shedding tears.
- Get in the car. Alone. Take a drive. Find a nice safe place to park and cry. You can cry all you like in private. You can play music on the radio or your favorite CDs.
- Get in the shower. Turn on the hot water. You can cry and no one will hear you under the sound of the water running.
- Get outside. Take a walk by yourself. Wear sunglasses. You can cry while you walk and no one will be the wiser.
- Get in the pool. Start swimming. You can cry underwater and no one will figure it out.
If you want to cry, but the tears just won’t come, you can try these tearjerker movies to get the waterworks running:
- Steel Magnolias
- Terms of Endearment
- Brian’s Song
- The Bridges of Madison County
- Sophie’s Choice
- Charlotte’s Web
- An Officer and a Gentleman
Catherine Greenleaf is a suicide loss survivor, and author of the highly acclaimed book, Healing The Hurt Spirit: Daily Affirmations For People Who Have Lost a Loved One to Suicide. She is a spiritual counselor and a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling. She travels nationwide to speak to suicide loss survivors about how to persevere after suicide loss. You can read more of her work on her blog, or follow her on twitter.