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Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Opinion There's value in a good old cry – so let it all out
Welcome to the post-Christmas anti-climax (don’t deny yourself a little sob or two).

IT’S THAT TIME of year. Well nearly. People are preparing to pack away the tinsel and reach for the tissues instead. As sure as night follows day, the happiest time of the year is swiftly followed by the saddest. Sounds of singing will be replaced by sighs and sobs.

Most of us will shed a tear or two in a collective response to the January Blues. It’s the anti-climax following the high expectations placed upon us during the festive period. We all wake up in January like a bride on the day after her wedding, wondering… is that it? What now?

But should we begrudge our outpours? Should we hide our tears from prying eyes? It would seem that our attitude to crying has changed in recent years. Even heads of state have been seen to shed tears in a show of empathy.

Crying was considered to be a sign of weakness in the days of yore. But while nobody wants to have a head of state blubbering at the sight of Ms Merkel, an emotional response to a humanitarian issue is now a different kettle of tissues.

Woman may still cry more than men but, men are definitely letting it out too. A lot of men may make light of crying and dismiss it with jokes about onions or sport but we all know it takes a REAL man to cry. Crying should be like food – little and often. If you hold out for too long you know you’re going to binge.

I’m a sucker for a good cry. I can’t help it. I actually think I cry more now than when I did as a child. Once I start I’m an unstoppable force. It can go on for days. I have kidney sized tear ducts. If I’m in a fragile state the slightest act of sympathy or even a compliment can induce an emotional outpour suited to a state funeral. I wish I could control it, as I’m sure people worry when they encounter my tearful fits. But I guess I’m just an emotional creature. Or an immature one.

One recent onset of slobber got me thinking about the different styles of crying. Like laughter, many of us can fall into do different categories when we release the water works.

The Dignified Cry

The one where you bite your lip, allow one tear to speed down your cheek, before you sweep it away. It’s followed with a sharp turn of the head and a clearing of the throat swiftly finished off with “I’m fine.”

I’ve yet to master the dignified cry.

The Silent Pour

Generally brought on by the first 20 minutes of the movie Up, this cry is characterised by the involuntary stream of tears, a lip tremble but generally no audible accompaniment. You can’t let the others watching the movie know you’re crying.

The Crying Talk

This is how most of mine start. An attempt to convey something quickly deteriorates into words that are muffled by sobs. A key feature of this is a ten second silence whereby you try to contain the impending emotional outage. You actually try to swallow the tears. Speaking is just waking them sleeping dog tear ducts – one more word and they are woken into rabid action.

The Blinker Cry

This happens at a funeral mass of friend’s relative you that haven’t met. Despite never clapping eyes on this person you find yourself welling up during the eulogy. Aware that you might draw strange looks from people who actually knew the deceased, you try to blink away the tears.

The Pretty Cry

This one is definitely fraudulent. Nothing else changes in the face apart from the release of a single, sultry tear. The tear will also hang around the eye area for longer than normal – screaming notice me! – a clear indicator of its insincerity. It knows it’s the only one coming. This is just an effort to get one’s own way and should be ignored at all costs.

The Happy Cry

A fusion of laughter and tears. It can come at the end of an actual sad event, where you have made yourself so sad you end up laughing at yourself. It can be accompanied with the phrases “what am I like” or “would ya look at me?”. It also comes with a lot of mucus.

The Mortified Cry

You are not entirely sure why you are crying. Perhaps you are just tired, but for some reason you’re having an emotional outpour. For this sobbing episode you will generally hide as much of your face as possible. Two hands or the crevasse of an elbow should suffice – you don’t feel worthy of the sympathy you are attracting.

One thing is certain though, no matter which type you are a public or private crier, silent or sobber, a good cry is as good as a good laugh – maybe even better. It may have been a bad feeling that brought it on but it will be a better one at the end of it all. And if someone chooses to cry in front of you well, sure, that’s a compliment. People will laugh anywhere, in front of anyone – even alone on a bus when an old joke comes to mind. But many of us will reserve those precious tears for our true friends. So if someone pulls out the Kleenex in your company don’t turn the other cheek. Just let them at it and wait for the tears to dry up.

Michelle McBride tweets at @MichelleBride and blogs at MissUnderstood Teacher.

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