Crying has definite physiologic benefits. There are hormones associated with elevated levels of stress found in human tears. As a person cries, they offload some of the materials associated with higher stress levels. This could help explain why many people feel a sense of relief and calm after a good cry.
In January of 1970, my dad drove his only son, his twenty year old boy, one hundred miles down highway 59 south, from Lufkin to the Houston Intercontinental Airport. I was taking a commercial flight to connect with a military flight which would take me from the USA to Taipei, Taiwan. We knew I would not be back for a year or more. My dad cried all the way there. Not bellowing. Not wailing. Just tears of sadness and fear running down his face.
Nineteen months later, I flew home to rejoin my father - now diagnosed with terminal cancer - who awaited me. Now it was my turn to cry. I have never in my life before or since wailed like I did when he died. It was like someone had stuck a spear right through the middle of me, a pain deep down that could not be abated. Then I settled down and faced the whole funeral and burial process.
I kept my pain to myself for about a couple of months. Then a made for TV movie named "Brian's Song" came on one night. I had come in from a long day of working in the military followed by taking a class in the early evening. I sat with my (then) wife and watched the film, transported by its story line about an NFL player named Brian Piccolo, his friendship with running back Gale Sayers, and his losing battle with cancer. There was a song for the film and that song became a huge hit. Every time I heard it for a year afterwards, I cried like a baby, sobbing over the loss of my Daddy.
Even as I type today, tears well up in my eyes, and sadness engulfs my face. I hope I am still remembered as lovingly forty two years after I am gone.
Crying for the loss of a loved one is perhaps the sincerest. But crying for lost love is also a staple of letting loose. The song "Crying" by Roy Orbison remains the ultimate song about the topic. He made a song about crying which encompasses the tortured heart of a spurned lover. "I was alright, for a while. I could smile, for awhile. But I saw you last night, you held my hand so tight, as you stopped to say 'hello.' You wished me well, but you couldn't tell ... that I'd been crying over you."
The death of a loved one is the supreme loss and a good time to cry, but a broken heart needs crying, too. Orbison's fifty year old song and its staying power prove it.
Whether for lost loved ones or lost loves, our cultural pressure to avoid crying is unnecessary. If you feel like crying, go have a good one. You don't have to do it in front of anyone. It really is good for your body and mind.
Jesus wept openly at least twice. He wept from sorrow, sympathy and anguish. That's the kind of Biblical precedent my dear, departed Daddy would have loved hearing in a discussion about crying.
© 2013, Jim “Pappy” Moore,
All Rights Reserved.
Jim “Pappy” Moore is a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his home. firstname.lastname@example.org