The courage to cry
Certain cultures discourage the expression of sadness and grief through tears. At the funeral, people are reminded not to mourn the loss, but to rejoice with the promise that their love one is in heaven. Men often struggle to connect with their grief when they grow up in the culture, which emphasised that men must be strong and don't cry. Subconsciously, these cultures indicate that tears belong to the weak, or there is gender segregation when coming to tears. Women can cry, but men are to remain tearless.
Nicholas Wolterstoff, an American Philosopher wrote in his book, “Lament the son”: "The culture often promote that the strength of the man in sorrow is in his tearless face". Dealing with his sorrow, Nicholas went on to question the logic of celebrating tear lessness and ignoring the bleeding heart. Nicholas discovered that it takes as much strength to cry as in holding back the tears. It takes courage to be vulnerable and to allow others to see our pain through our tears.
When we allow ourselves to cry in the safety of the people we can trust, we allow our pain to breath and to receive the care it deserves, thus allowing the grief to step into the journey towards healing. On the other hand, dissociating from tears is dismissing a critical life experience. Sorrow and happiness are part of a life journey.
Enabling our tears to flow also allows us to see things that a dry-eyed could not see. Someone never experiences happiness find it hard to celebrate others' joy. Likewise, people who disconnected with his or her own emotion find it hard to connect and empathise with others' pain. They often become emotionless, angry and impatient, which lead to disconnection with their love ones.
The movie Inside out (Disney-Pixar, 2015) illustrate the importance of experiencing sadness. In one of the scenes, Joy, who tried hard to prevent Riley from feeling sad, encounter an event which caused her to tears. Through it, Joy discovered a sad memory which led to Riley connecting with her love one. Joy then understood that when she prevents Riley from feeling sad, she was also keeping Riley from feeling happy.
If you are going through grief and loss experience, please allow yourself the space to grieve and to cry. For Men, it is ok to cry. Tears are a strength because it takes more courage to cry than to dismiss the emotion.