Wednesday, February 19, 2020


Why do some of us cry only when no one can see us? Do we think we won't be comforted? Are we trying to spare others the discomfort of our tears? What is it? I'm not sad today, even though it is the twenty-fourth anniversary of my dad's death. I miss him always, and I did tear up on waking, but I don't feel broken, I'm mostly just grateful that he was mine. I was just wondering about the crying in secret, is all, and what it says about us humans.

Seen in Freeman's Alley


  1. A while ago I had an art student taking private lessons with me. She's a therapist, and one thing I learned was to tolerate her tears.

    She was happy and sad with finally learning art after being denied it as a child, and she was working out a lot of grief and other emotion.

    I decided to let it happen, provide kleenex in the studio and not comment. I felt very privileged that she was able to cry in front of me, and I thought I'd better not interfere! Her art developed wonderfully.

    So maybe it's okay to look "weak" sometimes, in a context where it won't diminish us.

  2. When I cried at work no one ever comforted me. I think it’s because they thought I was mentally ill and of course they were right and their comfort would have been wonderful but it would have made me cry harder. But I’ve cried at veterinarian offices when I had to put a beloved cat out of misery and was never comforted there either. People are afraid of outward shows of any kind of big emotion in my experience and it does not speak well of how we have evolved. I rarely offer to comfort adults if they are crying because it always seems so private but I always offer comfort to any child. Many thoughts on this thank you. XO

  3. I cry all the time and everywhere but it can be embarrassing, my face turns red, especially my nose. Maybe we don't want others to see our pain. We're happy with sharing our smiles but not our tears so much. It makes us vulnerable. We're showing everybody else our pain.

  4. And if someone does cry in front of another person that person always says, "Don't cry!" It seems to make us so uncomfortable to be either the crier or the witness to the crying. I am so emotional though that I frequently cry in front of other people. One time I did this, talking to Lis and another woman and the woman looked a bit startled and Lis said, "Don't worry. This is the way she is."

    1. That happened to me the day after my husband died. Friend visiting. And I said I have to! Looking back I think that was exactly right.

  5. I'm sad a lot of the time, but I don't cry much. I was always a very quiet person, even as a small child. My mom once asked the pediatrician if there was something wrong with me because I was so quiet. He listened to my heart beating beating beating, and told my mom I was fine. He said, "She's nervous about being here. I can hear it in heart. She's quiet and aware." I don't cry much. I'm quiet and aware. Although typing this makes me want to cry.

  6. Thank you for writing so movingly and asking your good questions on the 24th anniversary of your beloved father's death. You've given me much to think about regarding crying in secret. I am grateful for one occasion in the 1990s when I had a good long cry that lasted several hours and was witnessed by a young man I didn't know well but who told me about his own experience of finally being able to cry freely and being given the freedom to do that in the company of other people who didn't judge him for crying -- people who understood. He seemed like an angel to me. I never saw him again. I have never forgotten the time when I witnessed on film that freedom expressed so eloquently when Maya Angelou cried while talking about how Malcolm X's death affected her.

  7. I honestly cannot remember the last time I cried, either publicly or in secret. It may have been when our dogs Ernie and Ruby died eight years ago. I cried on 9/11. Surprisingly, I never cried about my dad's death, I suppose because it was a long time coming and we'd all come to terms with it by the time it happened.

  8. some tears in public are acceptable, those caused by the emotion of the moment re the Maya Angelou above, when someone is speaking and they briefly tear up about something or is the sudden recipient of some unexpected joy or terrible news. I don't think people are upset by that kind of crying in public. it's the real crying of deep sadness or unhappiness, or of frustration or hopelessness that makes people uncomfortable because there is no ready fix for it, you can't really help the person who is crying uncontrollably and that makes us feel helpless. so I think. I don't cry anymore. or I should say, I very rarely cry. I went through a set of very bad years with my husband and I cried enough for a lifetime then.

  9. I cry more with my family than I do in secret. I wear my feelings on my shirt sleeves and I cry during certain movies. Heck I cry during some commercials lol. Especially the Budweiser Clydesdales and the puppies and horses! Yikes I know right! But they are so sweet.
    I cry when my kids and I argue, I cry when my grandchildren left to go back to California and again when they came back.
    If I could change anything about me I would change that sentimental part of me but I guess that since I have been crying for a half a century I am stuck with this part of me!
    Great question by the way.