Posted on October 20, 2021

“You should be here!” Marla screamed in frustration clenching her pen, stabbing it toward heaven as she stared at medical bills, insurance forms, death certificates, and more bills. “Why didn’t you teach me how to do this? Why didn’t I ever ask?”

She felt like a deer trapped by headlights: paralyzed and panicked. Her stomach roiled. Her throat tightened. Her eyes still swollen from her last battle stung. Will this ever end? With that she fled, escaping from the room, flopping on her bed, sobbing into her pillow.

Marla, grow up, big girls don’t cry! You’ve cried long enough. Will I ever feel happy again? The river of tears erupted, the pain coursing through her, the current so strong, as she gasped for breath. Reason and expectations threw her no lifeline. I need help. This is too much.

Maybe Marla fell asleep and it was a dream. Maybe. But Marla remembers someone tenderly stroking her hair and patting her back. A gentle soothing voice whispering in her ear. Her grandmother? Marla cried even harder. She missed her Nana so much.

“There, there my little one, you go ahead and just have a good cry.” 


A baby gasps for her first breath and gives out a healthy cry. A good cry. People smile because it proves we are truly alive. And so it goes the rest of our lives. The tears come to clear the dust out of our eyes. The happy tears come as a father walks his daughter down the aisle. And the sad tears come with grief. And it’s those emotional tears that actually help us heal.

Not all tears are chemically the same.

Neuroscientist Dr. William H. Frey II has spent twenty years studying crying and tears. He is the author of Crying: The Mystery of Tears and the co-director and founder of the Alzheimer’s Research Center at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota.


“Crying is not only a human response to sorrow and frustration, but it is also a healthy one,” Frey says. “Human’s ability to cry has survival value.” He goes on to teach that crying releases stress, reduces sadness, and lowers blood pressure. Emotional tears differ from other tears in that they remove toxins and stress hormones. They truly do get ‘the sad out of you.’ And once you start? Keep going according to the science behind crying. Cry for several minutes. It takes that long for the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) to be activated so you can truly rest.


Do you remember the massive football player Rosie Grier? Back in the 1970's he sang “It’s Alright to Cry” for the children’s musical “Free To Be You And Me.”

It’s alright to cry

Crying gets the sad out of you.

It’s alright to cry

It might make you feel better.

And Rosie was right! A good cry releases endorphins which ease emotional and physical pain giving you a sense of well-being and calm. Grieving, anger, guilt, sadness, reproach, depression, tiredness, and confusion are normal feelings after losing a loved one. Crying is one healthy way to help you process and move forward with your life.



It can be a challenge to overcome what we were told in childhood: ‘only babies cry,’ or ‘be a man, big boys don’t cry.’ Listening and talking to an understanding support group allows you to openly mourn. It can be a huge relief to be with others who encourage you as they pass you a tissue. Consider our Grief Group on Thursdays. 



If you do find you cannot stop crying after a period of time, please talk to someone, and see your doctor. Especially if you have any of these feelings: 

· Extreme hopelessness

· Trouble sleeping

· Changes in weight and appetite

· Thoughts of suicide

· Deep depression

At the beginning of the grieving process, some may think, ‘I can’t go on!’ Suicidal thoughts can pass through a griever’s mind and are normal. IF THEY ARE PASSING THOUGHTS. 

However, if such thoughts persist, pay attention. Don’t believe what you are telling yourself. You are grieving and better days are ahead. You may feel hopeless now, but you have a hopeful future. Your story isn’t over! 

If you sense you or anyone in your family is considering suicide, you must take action even if you are sworn to secrecy. Call 911 for an immediate emergency. Turn to a trusted pastor, teacher, counselor, family member, or friend. The Iowa Department of Public Health offers “YourLifeIowa” for all problems. Call 855-581-8111 or text 855-895-8398. 

Again, take immediate action. Don’t lose hope. Choose hope.

© VickiJolene Lindley Reece



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