In one week’s time, I heard two men apologize for their tears.
“I’m sorry,” they both said. “Give me a minute.” Then they hung their heads, as if afraid to let the rest of us see their breaking moment.
They were both on podcasts and couldn’t hear me yelling, “Don’t apologize for your tears. It’s okay to cry.”
In fact, health experts tell us tears and crying are essential to healthy bodies and souls. Allowing yourself to cry can:
- Help you sleep better
- Relieve any number of stresses
- Release hormones such as oxytocin and endorphins
- Fight bacteria
- Lower blood pressure
Check out some of these benefits of crying.
But crying can also underscore our humanity. It proves we have been created part liquid, and we can be touched by multiple factors in life.
Having a good cry develops authenticity. It proves we are vulnerable to the circumstances around us and being vulnerable is okay. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, we become real.
Letting the tears flow debunks the theory “real men don’t cry.” If they can’t cry, then how real are the rest of their emotions? Perhaps holding back those tears may lead to blocking off other feelings such as love, compassion and mercy.
In the current novel I’m writing, the main character is a man who has a crying scene. I interviewed several women and men on the reality of letting a man cry in print. One woman was glad her husband could cry in front of her. She felt it increased their sense of intimacy.
One of my male friends admitted he rarely cries, but when he allows himself to get away and let the tears flow — he eventually feels better.
Tears give off signals that we need support, that it’s okay to ask for help. Friendships are built on emotional support. Relationships cannot exist without it.
Finally, being able to cry proves we care. How many of us cried out, if only internally, with George Floyd when he called for his mother? How many healthcare workers cried with the dying in the ICU and shuddered as the numbers of dead climbed each day?
Or have we become so callused to the crises around us, we have numbed down our tears?
Apathy is a dangerous disease which eventually silences the heart’s compassionate center. Without tears, our souls become hardened. Without feeling, we grow into stone versions of ourselves. If we cease to cry, we prove we no longer care enough to release heart-felt compassion.
Babies cry to make their needs known, but also to strengthen their lungs and the quality of their breathing. Perhaps some of us need to become as a little child again, to find the strength in letting go.
If crying is something to be ashamed of, then why are tears so important to God? “You have collected all my tears and preserved them in your bottle. You have recorded every one in your book” (Psalm 56:8 TLB).
Since God responds to the cry of the heart, then it must be okay to let the tears fall — and refuse to apologize for such a natural act.
Perhaps the men I observed will someday realize the beauty and health involved in their tears. I hope they learn how to be authentic, to wail and weep if they need to, to be vulnerable about their feelings.
Maybe our world would be a better place if we all cried out.
©2020 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
Some of the essays in Sometimes They Forget speak about the tears of our family when the shadows of Alzheimer’s came to live with us.