The Soul of Grief – What Are Rules About Tears When Grieving

the soul of griefThe Truth About Tears

There are many theories regarding the benefit of tears. One of my favorite quotes that reflects my beliefs regarding tears is as follows:

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” -Washington Irving

The value of tears is also expressed in many spiritual texts:

“You kept track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” – Psalm 56:8 NLT

It has been said that tears are made of 1% water and 99% feelings. But tears are actually made up of proteins, salt, and water which keep the eyes healthy, as well as the heart clear.

Tears are not only an important part of maintaining good eye health, they may also be important for providing good emotional health during your time of grieving.

Generally speaking, there are no hard and fast rules regarding tears. The ability and amount of sadness expressed tears and griefthrough crying is more often than not personality related.

Extroverts, and people who have empathy, tend to cry easily. Introverts, generally speaking, cry less.

Women do cry more than men in the United States. However, in other parts of the world, gender is not a factor in the amount of tears cried. Men and women cry equal amounts different cultures.

Rules About Crying

In my work of helping people resolve trauma and grief, there are some common things said in the confidential, safe place of my office.

  • “If I let myself start crying, I might never stop.”
  • “I am tired of crying. The tears seem uncontrollable.”
  • “Tears make me feel weak. I hate crying.”
  • “I try not to cry in front of others. I feel so embarrassed.”
  • “When will these tears stop?”
  • “I’m concerned about ‘______’. He/She hasn’t begun to cry.”
  • “I can’t cry. I want to, but I simply cannot.”

The Soul of Grief Kate PieperAgain, there are no hard and fast rules regarding crying. It is worthwhile though, to spend some time examining the rules you have around emotions. Examination reveals the unhealthy “family rules” about expressing sorrow that could possibly, if followed, prolong your grieving process.

In Brene Brown’s research, she discovered people who have resiliency in life allow themselves to express emotions. These individuals have words for their emotions and are not afraid to discuss the feelings they may be feeling. People who do not have emotional resiliency feel shame about expressing emotions. They cannot put words to the feelings.

This false shame can be remedied by talking to a safe person about how you are truly feeling, and how the death of your loved one is effecting you.

Realizing tears are not weak is important. Viewing them as honoring your loved one, and the life they lived, is vital in moving through your valley of the shadow of death.

We’re going to talk about managing the overwhelming emotions you may feel in the next chapter of The Soul of Grief.

Meanwhile, remember to be kind to yourself as you move through your emotions. You will discover what is right for you as you give yourself permission.

And keep in mind the one rule for grieving – You Make The Rules.


Kate Pieper the soul of griefI’m Kate Pieper, LMFT. I continue to be your reluctant tour guide on this journey of The Soul of Grief. The above information regarding tears is not professional counseling. It is helpful information to allow you to lean into your grief and move through it. If you would like to contact me, feel free to do so at kate@katepieperlmft.com.

6 thoughts on “The Soul of Grief – What Are Rules About Tears When Grieving

  1. I love the Irving quote. I am an empath and I cry at the slightest thing. Mostly relating to others rarely do I cry for myself – but I am a grateful person who enjoys the ride of life so it is not about hiding my feelings it is that I am comfortable with them. The tears are almost always for othes except when I lost my wonderful mum last yeast then they were all mine and I owned them and loved them as they were my expression of love for her.
    Thank you for this powerful post

    1. Oh, Elaine. I absolutely love your response. Your mum must have given you good mothering for you to embrace your tears! Life is so much richer when we embrace the kaleidoscope of emotional colors, rather than just the black and white!

  2. Goodness. This was very powerful and impacting. I thought I was the only person who was scared that her tears may never stop! And now to be honour my loved ones through my tears! Thank you.

  3. Dear Kate, thanks for the permission to cry at the time that feels right for me. I lost my father figure 2 months ago and I was surprised it took me a month to start feeling it.

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