Why Crying Is Necessary For Healing

By Reniel


Last Updated: July 8, 2021

It was way back in 2008, just two days before Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, that his beloved grandmother died. She had been the one who had raised him from the young age of 10 after his mother passed away. So, in a lot of ways, she was his mother, and having cheered him all his life, it was particularly heartbreaking to come to terms with the reality that she would never see him as President.

It was no surprise then that Obama paid tributes to her in the final days of his presidential campaign. With tears rolling down his eyes and his voice heavy with emotions, he admitted that the occurrence was “hard to talk about” … much tears followed after.


Many people – especially men – fear that crying is a sign of weakness. They think it to be embarrassing, and undesirable, so they usually try withholding their tears and never let go. And this may be true about you too. You may worry that 

  • You don’t want to be a burden to others
  • You are in public and don’t want to be seen as a crybaby
  • You don’t know if others consider your misfortune such a big deal
  • Or maybe you just don’t want to ruin your makeup   

Whatever your reasons are, you must realize that crying is not just an emotional response to a difficult situation, but also a way the body and mind heals. Hence, holding back tears can be unhealthy for you.

The thing is, not all tears are created equal. There are actually three types of tears

  • Basal tears: Which are intermittently released in order to lubricate the eyeballs.
  • Reflex tears: Triggered by the body to wash off the dust, oxides, and other irritants from your eyes. And finally 
  • Emotional tears: Which are set off by strong emotions – both of joy and sadness. And it is this very type of tears that bring about emotional healing.

Contrary to what you might think, crying isn’t as repellent as you might fear; in fact, it can strengthen bonds – i.e. make you more likable. The truth is that empathic people would offer to comfort and help out in any way they can if they see you crying. Plus, your tears can actually be the reason they understand the gravity of what you have suffered.

Crying essentially helps you express your feelings, and this process of expression helps expel the stress and tension from your body.

Emotional tears have also been reported to contain traces of stress hormones – like Prolactin; which means crying elevates stress at a biochemical level. This is particularly interesting because high levels of stress can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, weakening of the immune system, hypertension, and may damage certain areas of the brain if left unrelieved. That’s beside the other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression it can trigger. 

But that’s not all, crying also excites the Parasympathetic nervous system, which then brings about calm, relaxation, and sleep.

From the psychological standpoint, crying helps you focus on your pain – to take it all in, and feel it – which can sometimes unlock other buried traumas and pains, leading to proper mourning of the events (both past and present). The result is that you feel lighter and better after a good cry.

Crying is so effective that it has even inspired several “Rui-katsu” (i.e. Crying Clubs) in Japan. A Rui-katsu is basically a place where people congregate to watch “sad movies” which then makes them cry. The patrons of such clubs believe that it provides a sort of “safe space” to cry without having to worry about being judged.

Below is a simple guide to help you cry better, and heal whilst on it.


How to cry

  • Cry with someone: Crying is an emotional response to very painful experiences – like betrayal, loss, or loneliness – hence it makes sense that there is someone who serves as a comforter during these moments. The whole aim of crying is to draw attention to a "pain", and although you might feel vulnerable (or awkward) drawing attention to yourself, you must understand that you need that reassurance that the world still has some rays of light and hope in it – that there are people who care for you, and who are willing to support you. So, don’t push people away when they attempt to comfort you, instead draw strength from their gesture and lift yourself from the pain.
  • Ask yourself why you’re crying: It is crucial to question the origin of the pain. You need to ask yourself, “why do I feel so hurt?”. You need to repeat the question till all emotional underpinning is exposed. That way, you would have the opportunity to mourn the underlying pains, and possibly do something about them when you are done mourning. Though this might mean you have to think deeper and feel a greater degree of pain, the result would be total healing when the pain is over.
  • Cry it all out: It follows from the previous point. It is crucial that you don’t hold yourself back when crying. The thing is, pain is stored in our entire body – and builds up stress and tension – so it is expedient that you give your body the chance to expel all the pain and hurt.
  • Learn to accept and let go: And, in situations where you can do nothing about the circumstance, you must learn to surrender and let go. 

In summary, crying is a cathartic process – it purifies and cleanses your body and mind. However, it is important to note that excessive and uncontrollable outbursts of tears may be subtle indications of serious emotional problems, like depression. In such situations, you are advised to go to (or take the person to) a therapist.


Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash


4 comments on “Why Crying Is Necessary For Healing”

  1. I am an "Alpha Male" (All American football player and business leader). Tomorrow will mark 50 years since my mother passed away (I was 13). My father passed away 5 short years later. I have been the family patriarch ever since helping my younger brother and sister. Tears flowed freely at that time. I believe that those tears unblocked a dam as I now cannot hold back my tears. I cry at every star spangled banner or any sad movie. I am never ashamed nor do I think less of myself for the tears. They show my deep sentiment and compassion. I will cry tomorrow remembering my mother...

  2. Crying is a healing mechanism when you have experience a loss or some form of betrayal. I was just at a funeral this week and it was indeed a sad occasion. I not only cried because of the loss, but also because of a betrayal act by two people that betrayed me. I really needed to release the the pain and the hurt from the betrayal. After I really poured down a shower of tears, I can sleep better and I am now able to let go of the pain associated with the betrayal and learn from the situation.

    M. Williams

  3. Wonderful article and comments. I am dealing with a significant loss right now, one that also has shame and guilt associated with it. I find myself having difficulty crying. It’s as if I won’t allow myself to feel it. I can cry sometimes when I’m with others, whom I trust. I’m so grateful for them.

  4. The other day while in church, a particular hymn was being sung, I cried so much a young lady sitting by me noticed and hugged me and assured me all will be well. I initially felt so bad and vulnerable. She's become a very close friend. I've still not been able to explain the reason for crying to her but she understood. Thank you for the article.

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