There is sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of over¬whelming grief and unspeakable love.
~ Washington Irving
To cry at the loss of a loved one, a single nuclear family, or a dream, or at the injustices you may be experiencing in your marital dissolution is a healthy response to this life event. Having to divide as a couple or as a family is sad and painful even under the best of circumstances.
Crying is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of being a sentient person. Those who try not to cry or not to feel sad do themselves a disservice on many levels.
Shedding tears is a way to cleanse the soul of grief and the pain of loss; it also provides physical benefits. Tears literally make you feel better by releasing toxins that would other¬wise build up in your body. If you’ve ever had a “good cry,” you know that after the crying ends, you actually feel more relaxed and calmer. Crying is a physical as well as an emo¬tional release in that it slows down your heart rate and helps you to breathe a little deeper and more fully. It moves grief out of your cells. It is cathartic. (Catharsis can be defined as an event that produces a feeling of being purified emotionally, spiritually, or psychologically as a result of experiencing an intense emotional experience or a therapeutic technique.)
When you allow yourself to shed tears and truly grieve, you move through the grieving process faster than if you try to squelch your emotions in some way.
One way to think about this that may help is that every time you allow yourself to feel sad, you are that much closer to being on the other side of the pain. Shutting down your grief doesn’t make it go away; rather it prevents you from moving through it. Your tears will flow when you are ready to cry and they will stop when you’re done grieving.
Today, I allow myself to cry whatever tears I need to cry.
This article has been edited and excerpted from Stronger Day By Day with permission by New Harbinger Publications, Inc, copyright © 2010, Susan Pease Gadoua is the author of Contemplating Divorce, A Step-by-Step Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go (August 2008), and Stronger Day by Day: Reflections for Healing and Rebuilding After Divorce (July 2010). Susan is a licensed therapist based in the San Francisco Bay Area with an expertise in marriage and divorce.
Other articles by Susan Pease Gadoua