The Healing Power of Tears.
Sounds a bit mystical. . . Healing Tears. Hmmmm.
But as with all things along this pancreatic cancer journey, we’ve checked it out and done our research.
Actually, this research kind of fell in our laps.
Several months after mom was diagnosed, I saw a Grief Seminar Ad posted in our local newspaper. I was already beginning to deal with brief moments of all-consuming anticipatory grief, and I thought maybe the Grief Seminar might help.
So, I drug my husband along with me. He’s such a good guy. And he’s my rock. Everyone needs a Leroy…
But I digress. The Grief Seminar was called Surviving the Loss of Someone Special. See why it caught my eye?!
It was two hours of laughing (yes, the presenters had a funny bone),
and tears (yes, the stories they shared cracked my heart open),
and learning (yes, you can learn things about grief you never knew!)
And one of the more interesting things I learned about was that of Healing Tears.
The speakers shared about the research of William Frey, at the St Paul Ramsey Medical Center in Minnesota. He and his team have studied tears. Who thinks about doing these studies? But, they studied tears. And the conclusions were fascinating.
The tears you cry when you are grieving are made up of different chemicals than the tears you cry when you are injured or have an irritant in your eye. They discovered that the tears of grief are full of stress toxins. The tears actually cleanse the body of these harmful chemicals.
Their research revealed that weeping is an excretory process which removes toxic substances that normally build up during emotional stress. They found that the tears of stress reduced the body’s manganese level, a mineral which affects mood and is found in up to 30 times greater concentration in tears than in blood serum. They also found that emotional tears contain 24 per cent higher albumin protein concentration than tears caused by eye irritants. Other chemicals found in these tears include the endorphin leucine-enkephalin, which helps to control pain, and prolactin, a hormone which regulates milk production in mammals. And finally, one of the most important of those compounds that tears removed was adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), one of the highest indicators of stress.
We are learning through science what we may have known in our bones for centuries. Tears are a way to mend the pain and suffering of life.
William Shakespeare knew it. “To weep is to make less the depth of grief.”
And your mother knew it. “Go ahead and cry. You’ll feel better when you’re done.”
Crying doesn’t solve a problem, but it offers relief and makes us feel better. After a good cry, there is a decrease in breathing and heart rates as we enter a calmer emotional and biological state.
So yes, the tears of grief really are Healing Tears. They are your body’s release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety and frustration.
In our society we often see tears as a sign of weakness. I no longer feel that way. As a matter of fact, I am amazed at the beauty of our bodies resilience. Bottling up the tears over mom’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis has only harmed me. Stomach aches, headaches, dread, anxiety… I have struggled to hold back tears so many times. And all the while my body was offering me a way of relief. Of release. Of healing. The tears have been just a natural expression of the depth of my emotions.
Truly they have been Healing Tears.
“Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.” ~Golda Meir
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