To answer this question it is necessary to take a closer look at crying itself; what are tears, are there a difference in tears, who cry, how and how much do people cry, and why do people cry? In a research article written for my Master’s study, I came to some interesting conclusions that I would like to share with you;
- Women cry more often and for a longer time than men
- Men cry less intense than women
(however this distinction does not hold for infants and children)
This resulted in another question to be answered; Does crying often make you feel better?
My research gave me a clear answer to this question: yes it does. However, to have this positive effect it is important that:
- there was emotional support
- the crying had been caused by a positive event
- the crying led to a resolution or new understanding of the situation
- the crying was in solitude or with only one person present
But be aware, crying can have a negative effect on your emotional well being also and you feel worse than before. This can happen when:
- you feel embarrassed or ashamed of crying
- you are with a non-supportive person or
- you are with two or more people present
- you cry because you have seen suffering
Looking into the chemistry of the tiers shed, research could not prove that there is any chemical difference in the tears shed by women and men; there is difference in quantity as we already know.
Here are a few other conclusions that can be drawn from looking into the tiers of crying;
- when somebody is being seen crying, it may generate social support and or recognition of the sadness that is overwhelming for the crying person.
- crying by clinicians in therapeutic sessions could be a sign of empathy
- there exists a misconception that the success in grieving is measurable by the amount of tears released;
Unfortunately in professional literature very little attention is paid to the subject of crying. Nevertheless I feel it is safe to state that
- it is not the production of tears that causes a person to feel better but the release of an emotion and the circumstances under which the release took place.
Crying is an expression of an emotion or in other words an extraordinarily effective release of sadness. This means that tears may be shed in any grieving process, whether it is uncomplicated, complicated, or anticipatory.
On a therapeutic level it is important that any expression of emotion is stimulated, not limited to crying, and whereby an emphatic tear of the clinician may be helpful.
To answer the question in the title of this article; no, there is no ground to say that grieving without crying cannot be seen as proper grieving. A person can grieve in many different ways and one way is not better than the other. It all boils down to …... en hier moet dus iets van een slot conclusie geschreven worden.
For those of you who would like to read the full article, it can be downloaded in the Article Section of this website.
Erik Slebos
Tears, Grieving without shedding tears, is this possible?
Grieving without shedding tears; is this possible? 
January 4, 2021
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