Crying Is A Healing Activity

Armen Hareyan's picture

Healing and Crying

More or less everywhere in the world, children are taught to refrain from crying. I remember incidents from my own early childhood. If I fell down and then cried , my family members would distract me from crying. They would say 'see you have killed an ant'. In my innocence, I would believe what I was told and would start looking for the little creature. Of course, I could never find one. But I was distracted from crying and the activity would stop spontaneously.

In real world of grown-ups this is what we learn to do. We distract ourselves from crying over the losses that we undergo in our lives. We are told it is not good for us to cry, because 'things cannot be undone'. Little do we realise that crying is a healing activity and it helps us move on in life.

It is a myth that crying over a loss continues forever and impedes our progress. Converse is true. Not crying over losses and deaths creates a 'burden' in the body that we are not consciously aware of. This burden is only experienced when it is allowed to let go. As long as one is holding on to the burden, one does not realise that it is being carried. We are so used to carry it anyway.


Our nervous system goes into stress mode when our body perceives any threat. At that time the process of crying is suspended. It is only when a person starts to relax that the crying activity occurs. Physiologically, the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for relaxation. Crying or shedding tears, is a parasympathetic activity too. So people who are stressed out do not cry. But they are not happy either.

When someone cries over a loss, it means the nervous system is getting 'comfortable' or is reaching a stage of 'accepting' the loss. This causes a balance between the sympathetic (stress producing) and the parasympathetic (relaxation producing) parts of the nervous system. The crying that involves grief almost ALWAYS ends.

Sometimes even grown up adults can cry to seek attention. This kind of crying is usually done in a dramatic manner, is inconsistent with any loss and does not end at any stage, till the dramatist wants to stop it. In such a case, crying is not a healing activity but it is an attention seeking one.

Pradeep K Chadha is a psychiatrist who specialises in helping patients with meditation and imagery using little or no medication. He is the author of The Stress Barrier-Nature's Way To Overcoming Stress published by Blackhall Publishing, Dublin. He is based in Dublin, Ireland. His website address is:



Personally i think it is a good thing to refrain from crying becuase you should share you feelings with someone you trust, not give your feelings away to anyone.
This is all true. I'm interested to know how crying helps us heal from our losses from a scientific point.