Tears: A Source of Strength in Grief

“We need never be ashamed of our tears.”

–Charles Dickens

Sometimes, when loved ones gather around an ill or dying friend or family member, someone will say, “I must be strong.”    Being strong means different things to different people, but this phrase frequently seems to mean:  I must not cry.

I respond by telling them to express their grief, and if tears need to flow, let them flow.  Our tears actually release toxic chemicals in the body, the physiological reason why “having a good cry” helps us feel better.

I believe that there is an emotional reason, too.  Tears are our source of strength.  They connect us to our vulnerability, which is where, paradoxically, we are also most strong.   Tears connect us to our humanity, allowing us to care for our loved ones in a more mutual and loving way.

So if tears beckon in your grief, let them come.  You are healthier for it.  And if you are healthier, your caregiving is also healthier, stronger, and more loving.

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