I’ve been asked how many times I’ve cried in front of other people. It’s surprisingly few, but it made me think about the types of crying that I do. Weirdly, I found a lot of categories, and I’m going to describe a few. Fyi: this is not a sad post. I’m not generally a sad person, and I haven’t been crying an inordinate amount lately (mostly); I just like to share my thoughts (obvs: I blog).
I Just Don’t Know Why I’m Crying: Of unknown origin. You might be sad, but you can’t be sure. Or you might just need to squeeze out some tears. Who knows?
Happy Crying: Things are so unbelievable good. You feel relief. The fear is gone. There are so many wonderful things that can bring us to tears. Sometimes life overwhelms you with goodness and grace. And that’s the real beauty of the human condition.
HappySad Crying: “I’ll be right here.” “‘Mo cushle’ means, ‘My darling. My blood.'” Sally Field at her daughter’s grave (see Gut Crying, below). Christian Bale yelling for the American plane. ‘Although I will be lonesome for you, even in Heaven.’ You do it at movies. You do it at lines in songs. You do it at the funeral that punctuates a long illness. You do it when forgiveness washes away a bitter period of resentment. It’s those incredible moments when hope breaks through tragedy, when life is hard and good, and when you are reminded of the incredible power of love.
Church Crying: Go ahead. You can let the tears drip. People will assume you’re overcome by the power of God or that you are deeply convicted. It doesn’t matter what you’re crying about. And you don’t have to hide. Just get it out before the sermon starts.
Stoic Crying: Those tears will not fall. Your throat closes. Your eyes, open as wide as possible, start to burn. You can barely talk. You will not let them see you cry. You will not deny your pride. If the tears start to fall, you get angry; you beat your eyes trying to make them go away. You stare at a fixed point on the wall. You’re not okay, but you’re not going to show that.
Sad Crying: The most common type of crying, this one is pretty straightforward. It has a specific catalyst and tends to be pretty rational (as outpourings of emotion go). Something happens. You cry. It subsides by itself. You don’t cry about it again. It’s just a way to process hurtful events.
Public Crying: Yeah, you’re pretty sad. No one is around who will ask you what’s wrong or about whom you care. Life is overwhelming sometimes. Common locations include the therapist’s waiting room, public transit conveyances, and fast food establishments. Have some more fries. Life is worse than calories.
Shower Crying: This is pretty pitiful. You may just be trying to hide the sound. Or you may have been left alone with your thoughts (speakers not loud enough), and the tears have finally come. Either way, you’re doubled over or sitting in the tub, and you’re…real sad. It’s a tough one, but it’ll pass.
Shocked Crying: I think that this is most common with an unexpected death or life event. You’re not ready for the pain, but, more importantly, you’re not ready to process something like this. Tears are an automatic and cathartic response. They may not be connected to any real thought or feeling.
Gut Crying: This one is the worst. It can stem from a chronic pain or from a deep wound with no immediate balm. Eventually the tears just aren’t enough. Your stomach twists, and you feel like your body is trying to force your guts out through your throat. You are probably doubled over, hacking. The tears may even stop. Your body just needs to get the feelings out–do anything to stop the pain. It will not subside quickly, and it may be accompanied by small showers of tears afterwards. I am so sorry for your pain.
Misery Crying: Everything is simply awful. You may have clinical depression; your life might suck right now; you could be a tragic figure; or you may be worried that consumption will get you before you can get all of your beautiful words out. I won’t tell you that it gets better. I will tell you that the prayers of the saints are with you. Be blessed, and may you know peace.
Wow, that actually was kind of depressing. Maybe this will help.