If You Want to Feel Better – Go Ahead, Cry! Feel the Pain!
by Linda Travelute, Ph.D.
“Do I have to be strong when I hurt so much?” This is a common question when someone has endured a traumatic situation or has just lost a loved one.
Finding the courage to be strong when your world has been blown apart seems like a great idea. There’s such a temptation to be a rock and hold back the tears. That’s the noble, nice thing to do. After all, it would make it easier on your family and loved ones. They wouldn’t see you in pain and then they wouldn’t feel as bad as they try to sympathize and comfort you. Actually, it seems like a grand idea to just ignore the sting of hurt or loss hoping it just might go away. Wrong! You can push away the pain and pretend it doesn’t hurt but doing so will endanger your health and your emotional well-being.
God was so smart creating us with the ability to cry. Crying is a valve that releases pain. When tears flow harmful toxins in our bodies are able to escape. Have you noticed that after a good cry you feel so much better? That’s because you’ve let some of the junk seep out. Yes, you may feel tired and drained from sobbing and weeping but no doubt you feel relieved.
Think back. Maybe as a kid, you had a crying spell and a parent or grown up looked at you and said: “Stop crying!” Yes, they meant well, but that’s why there are people who do not know how to release their emotions. Those words come back to haunt them the moment they feel a tear form in the corner of their eye. They shut it down. And as result, shut down a way that God gave us to heal the pain.
I say…”Go ahead and cry!” When I officiate a funeral one of the first things I do is gather the grieving family and loved ones together and let them know it’s ok to cry. I even ask them to give each other permission to cry. When people in my office start to cry I don’t rush to hand them a tissue. Some may think this is rude, but usually when you hand someone a tissue, they take it as a signal to stop crying. I’ll let people get a good sob going before I hand them a tissue to wipe their face. I want them to cry and feel the tears trickle down their cheeks.
One reason we don’t like to see people cry is because it makes us feel bad. One day my youngest child, Tiffany, was boo hooing over a situation. She was really going at it, holding nothing back. My oldest child, Tyler, tried to comfort her. Yet he secretly had an ulterior motive. His desire was for her to stop her tears. I said, “Tyler, it’s ok for her to cry; she feels bad right now.” He responded, “I don’t like it when she cries because it makes me sad.” There it is! That’s why we don’t want people crying in our presence. Because it causes us discomfort. We would rather cheer people up and brighten their day and ours. What this does though, is deny the hurt person the opportunity to feel and get over their pain. That’s why the Bible says, “Don’t sing songs to a heavy heart.” Forget trying to cheer them up; it won’t make the pain go away. Contrary to what we believe, it can cause them to bury it. God wants them to release their tears which will help restore their torn lives.
No, you don’t have to be strong when you’re in pain. Neither do I. Let’s get comfortable allowing people to cry in our presence and even get to the place where we will allow ourselves to cry in the presence of others. It’s a great gift we can give ourselves and those we love. Let’s go ahead and cry. It will do our bodies good!