August 30, 2003 Personal edition  Got Grief? Get Help! Click Here Text Version
Crying for Help....
Does Crying Benefit During Grief?
An Interview with Russell Friedman of the
Grief Recovery Institute
Many of you may have questions about crying. We’ve asked one of the experts at The Grief Recovery Institute to answer some of the most common questions asked about crying. We hope this information will give you a greater understanding of the role of crying in grief.
Karen Russell, MA, Executive Director
National Grief Support Services
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Featured Expert
RUSSELL FRIEDMAN is an international authority on grief. Since 1987, he has been the Executive Director of the Grief Recovery Institute,, and the Grief Recovery Certification Program. Russell is the co-author of The Grief Recovery Handbook, and When Children Grieve, He has experienced grief and recovery personally with the death of his mother, two divorces, and many other losses.
We invite you to read some different but parallel ideas on the topic of Crying and Grief by our colleague, Brenda Penepent, LPN
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How much crying is enough?
Have you ever known anyone who cries all the time, but never seems to change or grow? Have you ever known anyone who uses crying as a manipulation to get something? There is a high probability you will answer yes to both questions. Both of these questions are designed to explain that crying does not necessarily lead to completion of the pain caused by death, divorce or any other losses. It is often thought that there is a correlation between grief and crying. Many people express their pain and sadness through body language, tone and other factors. Not crying doesn’t mean not grieving.
Does crying make us feel better?
At best, crying acts as a short term energy relieving action, and relieves, temporarily, some emotional energy generated by the loss. We know of people who have been crying over the same loss, daily, for years and years. We know that the crying has not helped them complete what is emotionally incomplete in their relationship with their loved one who died, or the person from whom they are divorced.
We are aware of the research that indicates tears of sadness differ in chemical makeup from tears of joy. We are also aware that tears perform the valuable function of washing the eyes. We have even heard professional allude to published studies that indicate that women cry, on average, five times more often than men. However, in all of our research, we have not found a single study that supports a physiological basis for that ratio.
Why don’t men cry more in public?
As our society has evolved, we have seen a quantum shift in the public display of emotion. In today’s world, it is not at all unlikely to see a retiring professional athlete, often the paragon of “masculinity,” weeping openly in a televised press conference. It’s hard to imagine that same scenario occurring thirty or forty years ago. If your male parent is 60 years old or older, he is more likely to be affected by different beliefs about the open display of emotions than you are. Even your female parent is liable to be less willing to communicate sad, painful, or negative emotions than you. You must fight the trap of applying your emotional value to others. Even though your parents were role models, their views on emotion may be vastly different than your own.
We did a little research to find out if there is a physical distinction by gender in crying. Our results indicated that the circumstances and frequency with which very young infants cry is NOT dictated by gender.
Little baby boys and little baby girls cry co-equally. There are clear personality differences between babies, but our study indicated that the difference was due to the unique nature of the infant rather than to its gender. In the studies done for older children up to age five, response continued to be equal. From age five onwards, distinction by gender, and the resultant attitudes and beliefs begin to magnify. The logical extension of our informal study led to the inescapable conclusion that socialization, rather than gender, was the key to later differences of attitude and expression regarding crying.
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National Grief Support Services Inc. strives to present numerous resources to assist people dealing with grief from any cause. Opinions, philosophical approaches and suggestions of authors presented in Grief Matters are their own and do not represent or imply an endorsement by National Grief Support Services or We recognize that there are numerous perspectives on grief topics, and throughout our services we attempt to help people access a wide range of them. All information is presented in summary form only. It should not be considered complete or used in place of professional consultation.
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Copyright © National Grief Support Services 2004 
National Grief Support Services Inc. was founded as a nonprofit, charitable organization in 1994, for anyone dealing with grief from any cause. The organization’s dual purpose focuses not only on those who are experiencing loss, but the professionals who help. Serving as an umbrella organization for the grief community, our comprehensive web-based service,, delivers a wide range of Grief Support Services, Resources & Publications; Online Memorials, Tributes & Life Stories; Telephone/Online Support Groups & Classes; Healing Music; Legacy of the Heart, A Service to Comfort Those Who Are Someday Left Behind; a free book, Grief Passages, a free e-magazine, Grief Matters; and comfort and hope – all in one place, accessible at any time from any location.
This newsletter is published by National Grief Support Services, Inc.
Karen Russell, MA, President and Founder, Grief Matters Executive Editor
Bob Datz, Grief Matters Managing Editor Brenda Penepent, Contributing Editor