A Grief Support Blog

This blog will allow you the opportunity to acquire both support and guidance after experiencing a significant loss.

Crying is not losing composure

There are hordes of expressions that swirl around the twin topics of grief and recovery. Unfortunately, many of them are not helpful when we find ourselves stuck in the middle of grieving situations. We have been socialized to believe that sadness, which is the normal response to sad news or sad memories, is somehow a reduction rather than an appropriate response. Years ago the Republican National Convention was held in San Diego. One of the keynote speakers was former First Lady, Nancy Reagan. By that point in time, President Reagan was already under the impact of full-blown Alzheimer’s disease.  As Mrs. Reagan spoke, she cried, openly and honestly. What a perfect representation of emotional truth for all the world to see. That’s what we thought. But not so, thought the Los Angeles Times. On August 12, 1996, the Los Angeles Times ran a headline stating - Nancy Reagan loses composure in a tribute to her ailing husband. Why do we know about this? Because on August 13, 1996, we wrote a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times. Here is a copy of that letter:


"We have been interviewed and quoted many times in the Los Angeles Times View and Life Style section as experts on the topic of grief and recovery. Our constant refrain is that “grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss.” Nancy Reagan, along with millions of others, has experienced a major loss in response to the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on President Reagan. Even those with opposing political views share a sense of sadness when thinking about him. Since grief is normal and natural, so is crying. Crying is not losing composure. Crying is a natural and healthy response to loss or reminder of loss. Sadness and happiness are equal. We would no more wish to take away someone’s sadness than we would take away their joy. Please do not fall into the trap of identifying sadness as negative or something to be avoided. Millions read your paper. Please let us give them accurate language about human emotions. "

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We signed the letter as the principals of The Grief Recovery Institute. Of course, you’re wondering if the Times ever published the letter. Bet you won’t be surprised to find out they did not. As a society we pride ourselves on our progress, but when it comes to crying and grief, and the honest emotions connected to loss, we often seem to be going in the wrong direction.


If you found this article helpful, we have other articles on this topic you might be interested in:

Reaction to Loss: If I start crying will I be able to stop

On Crying and Grief - Part 1

On Crying and Grief - Part 2



Thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts and views on this!
My older brother died 9 years ago and I cried everyday for 2 years! I lost most of my friends because they said I was too depressed to be around! The doctor's prescribed me anti-depressants, which only suppressed my sadness and I started having angry outbursts, so stopped taking the tablets and retorted to crying. I have always been an emotional person and believe that crying is the most natural and healthiest way to relieve sadness. maybe if more people embraced crying, then maybe there would be a lot less people addicted to pills. potions, alcohol and drugs? Just my thought...
Hayley - You make a wonderful point about suppressing your emotional pain does not solve the problem! Unfortunately, physicians are trained to treat symptoms, but rarely understand how to deal with the underlying pain of emotional loss. After nine years of shedding tears and dealing with that pain, you know that that old expression, "grief just takes time," is not the case. I think it is time for you to take action to deal with that pain. When you lose someone you love, there is always unfinished business left behind. There are things that, no matter how wonderful the relationship, you likely wish had been different or better. You also obviously had dreams and expectations of a future with your brother that you have had the chance to share. It is these things that often lead us to tears and emotional pain when we think about someone we have lost. So often people see something that reminds them of a memory about our loved ones, and then all of those things that were left unfinished come to mind. Suddenly that fond memory has us overwhelmed once again with grief. The "Grief Recovery Handbook" talks about this in detail. It also takes you through how to deal with that unfinished business so that you can enjoy your fond memories again without that sense of loss and pain. The authors walk you through this process, hand-in-hand, and give you examples, based on their own losses, when it comes to taking recovery action. It is all about dealing with your broken heart! Please check to see if there is a Grief Recovery Method Support Group in you area (https://www.griefrecoverymethod.com/grief-support). The people who lead these groups have gone through specialized training to help grievers. Even more important, they have taken these same steps in their own lives to deal with their losses. If there is not group meeting near you, then buy a copy of the book and follow the directions it offers for taking action. After nine years, you deserve the right to be able to enjoy your fond memories without so many tears! This action plan has nothing to do with forgetting those we have lost and everything to do with being able to enjoy what they brought to our lives!

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