One of my favorite things to talk about in grief groups is the science behind tears. Our culture tells us certain messages about what grieving should look like, what is okay and acceptable. Phrases like “real men don’t cry”, “you’re being overemotional”, and that we need to “get over” our grief can leave us feeling like we are doing something wrong. But in fact, tears are a powerful part of grieving. Dr. William Frey, the “tear expert” found that the chemical composition of the tears of someone grieving is actually different than the tears of someone cutting an onion. He found that different stress hormones were present in the tears of someone grieving, feeling great sadness. 

I often encourage people that our bodies know, and need to, release these hormones through crying. Tears can foster healing, they aren’t a sign of weakness but of strength. Crying can be cleansing, releasing the emotions that we have built up inside.  They also activate endorphins which are natural pain blockers.  Usually these words leave the boys in my middle school groups shocked, with their mouths dropped open. To be encouraged to cry, to be given permission to cry, is something that is important for everyone. I encourage everyone to embrace the tears of grief. And if you wish to cry but are not able to, those tears will come when your body is ready. Give yourself the time, space, and permission to heal in your grief journey. 

Here is the article that I got the information above from, if you’re just interested in reading more.

Author: Lindsy Diener-Locke, Program Specialist