Isn't it funny how tears mean different things to different people?
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When babies are born we hope they come out crying so we know they are OK. However, somewhere along the line, tears stop showing the world we are healthy and that we are fine. Instead, the tears seem to start telling people that we are emotionally unstable and suggest that we aren't coping.
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For some, tears will always be a sign of weakness! I assume this has a lot to do with how they were raised. If you are told, "Come on stop those tears", "Get a grip", "Stop the water works" often enough, eventually your brain assumes crying isn't a good thing, and you start putting all your effort into not releasing those tiny droplets of water. But we were all created with the ability to cry, so surely that should tell us something? We have legs to walk with, ears to listen with and we also have tear ducts that produce water, so when we need to cry we can.
I am a huge believer in the power of tears. In fact, I personally believe that crying is a wonderful thing to do. I know that tears can take people to a new season in their lives, and weeping has the ability to change the very core of a person, if they want it to. I often hear people say, "but it is so hard to just let go and to not fear what people may think". My answer is this, "yes, it takes courage to allow your tears to tell their story, but try it, it will be worth it."
Now, of course there are times when I am not a fan of crying...this is when self-pity is involved. I am not the type of person to sit and say "poor me", "oh why has this happened to me?" I am the person to say "why not me?" "Why should this happen to that person over there, but I escape it?" So, whilst I can feel compassion for those carrying a huge dose of self-pity for a short amount of time, (as everyone should be allowed to wallow for a brief period) I quickly want them to say "life isn't always fair, but let's move on, and try and turn this bad situation into something positive."
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One incredible fact I have recently discovered, is that emotional tears are different to any other tears (there are three different types - reflex, continuous, and emotional). They are created with a chemical in them that makes them unique, so as we release them we are literally releasing the sadness from our bodies. This shows how healthy it is to cry. I hope that people will start to see crying as a sign of strength and not of weakness, as when we are sad, when we are hurting, or when we are grieving, tears are a hugely positive response. They are necessary to help us to heal and become whole again.
So, my tips are:
1. Cry until there are no tears left. Yes you may feel empty and drained, but these tears will take you down the river to some place new.
2. If you are conscious of not wanting to upset others, perhaps let the tears flow in the shower. Try to imagine the sadness is being drawn out of you as the water is washing away.
3. Encourage others to express their emotions in tears. The next time you are tempted to say to an adult or a child, "come on now, quit crying"....stop yourself, and say "here is a tissue" instead.
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Zoe Clark-Coates is one of the founders and CEO's of the Mariposa Trust. The Saying Goodbye division offers support and national remembrance services for anyone who has lost a baby at any stage of pregnancy, at birth or in early years. www.sayinggoodbye.orgSuggest a correction