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10 Things to Say When Someone is Crying

Tears streamed down the little ballplayer’s face and his shoulders shook as he sat, dejected in the dugout. He had failed to hit the ball again. boy crying

His dad/coach marched into the dugout. “There will be no crying on the ball field, do you understand me? No crying! You are not a baby!”

The boy buried his face in his hands, sucking in his breath every few seconds.

Suddenly, I was reminded of a communication coaching session I had last week. I was working with a professional who knows his presentations are dry and passionless and he wants to add that zing that will make his audience respond.  The problem is, he has numbed his feelings for so long that he can’t even find them anymore.  He explained that in his home growing up, there was little emotion shown or allowed. If any geysers erupted, they were shut up immediately with, “Stop crying!”  Now he needs help to find his feelings again.

Another friend mentioned recently that she was told to stop crying at her father’s funeral. She was 11.640px-Old_Faithful_Geyser,_Calistoga,_California

How can you stop tears that come from the deep? It’s a bit like trying to putting a lid on a geyser.

Unless…unless we can find a way to dry up the geyser itself. To squash the emotions so all that is left is numb…silence.

Interestingly, children in impoverished countries eventually stop crying. Because no one listens, no one cares.  They stop feeling altogether.

But numbing our feelings only works for so long. Because one day we realize we’re living grey, without color or depth. And the day we realize we need to find our emotions again…it’s the start of a long journey down into the core of us.

What is this fear we have with crying? Is it that we can’t stop it? Can’t fix it? Can’t control it? It’s annoying? Embarrassing? A sign of weakness?

Or…maybe our tears and the tears of others remind us that we do feel deeply. Maybe those tears trigger just how terrified we are to dive down and explore our own grief.  Maybe we are afraid that if we let our tears start they would never stop.

drops-on-the-grassHowever, did you know that just like a geyser waters the earth and births green shoots of growth, crying when we’re sad is actually good for us?

Jerry Bergman, in his article, “The Miracle of Tears,” (click here to read article) explains that crying when we’re sad helps to remove toxins from our bodies, decreases stress and can actually work to help elevate our mood.  It really is “a good cry.”

And Chip Dodd, in his landmark book, Voice of the Heart, (click here to see book) believes that we can only experience true gladness when we have allowed ourselves to feel every emotion- both good and bad. It’s the combination of the colors that make the rainbow.rainbow

So, instead of the “Stop Crying!” mantra we say to ourselves and hear parents say all around us, here are 10 things we can say instead:

  1. “You can cry if you want to.”
  2. “Crying is good for you.”
  3. “Sometimes I cry, too.”
  4. “It’s okay to cry.”
  5. “Sometimes you just need to cry.”
  6. “Your tears mean you feel deeply. And that’s a good thing.”
  7. “Your tears are beautiful.”
  8. “You cry. I’ll hold you.”
  9. “Cry as long as you need to.”
  10.  Nothing.  Just cry with them.

And for the dad/coach from the ball field, I think all you need is a little coaching from me. And believe me, I will give you something to cry about.

 

Photo credit of boy crying: @David_Shankbone  www.flikr.com

8 thoughts on “10 Things to Say When Someone is Crying”

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    That is a really good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate information… Thank you for sharing this one. A must read post!

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  3. My mother does this quite well. She is a rock most of the time. But when the stressors of life get to be too much, she goes to a quiet place and has a good cry. She comes back a few minutes later, ready to take on the world once again. I think it is a very healthy way to handle stress (backed by the research you mentioned). Definitely better than numbing your emotions at the end of a bottle. Perhaps our feelings of discomfort with crying goes beyond culture. Crying makes us vulnerable emotionally and physically. Perhaps there is a little bit of natural “fight” against that physical vulnerability tied into self-preservation. That said, I think we have done ourselves a disservice by limiting our emotional expressions. We are more of all God created us to be when we allow ourselves to experience our emotions.

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