My Grief Care

Misconceptions About Grief

12 Episodes

Episode 3 : Why Are Many Grievers Not Comfortable Crying In Front of Others?


Episode Notes

Why Grievers Aren't Comfortable Crying In Front of Others

Grievers may tend to feel they should say they are sorry when they start to cry. Why? Wouldn’t it be normal to cry after suffering a devastating loss? Yet we may feel embarrassed or weak when we cry, so we apologize

The tears may cause your friends and family to feel helpless and uncomfortable, and they may make you uncomfortable as you could feel exposed and vulnerable.  Everyone is uncomfortable, but please don’t let that stop you from openly mourning. Openly mourning is so important for you.

Remember in a previous episode how we talked about having to express all emotions. Crying is part of that. I didn’t say this would be easy.

Some of us are really uncomfortable with crying in front of others. I remember going to church after Mark died. We were always there together and his absence was deeply felt and apparent whenever I was there.  A few times, I thought I was okay, and then, in the middle of the service, I just started sobbing. I was so embarrassed but I couldn’t stop the tears. A woman came over and just held me. Allowing her to comfort me and hold me was a big step for me because I am usually the one who wants to comfort others, not be comforted. This was good for me and allowed me to be more authentic moving forward.

Now, I am not saying that we should be crying everywhere all the time – although there can be times and days like that. There are situations when we may need to keep it together to function, but not all the time. And we also may need to be careful who we trust with those tears and feelings.

I also want you to create a safe place for you to cry on your own, especially if you are really trying not to cry and are holding yourself back. My best cries were in a special blanket someone gave me shortly after Mark died. I held onto that blanket like a toddler hanging on to their security blanket. I would cling to it and just sob into it. I would wrap it around me and cry, and I would actually sleep with it. For some reason, that brought me comfort.

What might bring you comfort as you cry? 

We can’t talk about tears without talking about “Grief Bursts”. Some people like to call them “grief attacks.” You might be walking in the grocery store and you see your loved one’s favorite food or something that reminds you of them and you just lose it and burst into tears! It comes out of nowhere and blindsides you. So you might run out of the store without your groceries.

Sometimes, you know there is a situation that is going to be difficult, like my going to church example, but grief bursts come up completely unexpectedly.  Here is what I would like you to know about grief bursts:

They are a normal part of the grieving process and they are going to happen. If they do, instead of running, consider leaning into it, as we know ultimately that is best for you. I tell my clients, instead of saying “I’m so sorry,” or running out, you could say, “I’m crying cause my husband died and something just reminded me of him. This sucks.” You are educating people about grief when you do this.

One time, I was on vacation with my friends and we were in this beautiful isolated area sitting on these big rocks overlooking the ocean. We were having a wonderful time – and suddenly, I just started balling. I had no idea where it came from. My friends had no idea what to do. I looked at them and said, I am really missing Mark right now. I was embarrassed a bit and it was hard for them to see me hurting, but we handled it. They hugged me and we continued on, and then I had nice moments the rest of the day.

So the truth is that your tears are not a sign of weakness at all. They are a sign of tremendous grief and tremendous love, and it takes courage to allow them, especially in front of others, and they are a part of the grieving process.


  • Try to not hold back the tears next time they come up and just allow them.
  • Instead of saying “I’m sorry,” could you say, “I’m really missing my loved one right now. I know this may be uncomfortable for you. It is for me too.”
  • When you suffer a “grief burst,” please remember that you are normal. 
  • Where is your safe place to cry, and what might bring you some comfort as you cry, as my blanket did?


“Tears water our growth.”  William Shakespeare

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief . . . and unspeakable love.”     Washington Irving

“Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones are sealed inside to comfort us.”  Brian Jacques