Health & Wellness

Guest Column

Tears Are Good, They Let The Sadness Out

Mary Robinson, Executive Director, Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss Credits: Mark DeHanes

Jackie Kennedy and Coretta Scott King were our nation’s role models for mourning in the 1960’s and in the decades since. They were praised for their strength and stoicism, their courage and grace, and rightly so. They were great role models for our nation at a time of great unrest and anxiety, but I would say they were not the role models we needed when it came to grieving our individual losses.

Prior to Mrs. King’s death of ovarian cancer in 2006, she said she regretted not taking the time to grieve and mourn after her husband’s death. She attributed her illness to unresolved and suppressed grief. Her stoicism and strength came at great cost she said. Science bears this assertion out, with research proving how trauma can get stuck in the body -- “the physical effects on the organs go on unabated until they demand notice when they are expressed as illness.” (The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel Van Der Kolk.) Unexpressed and unacknowledged grief eventually manifests in one way or another and the longer it takes to be expressed the more harm can be caused.   

One of the things we’ve noticed at Imagine is how often people apologize when they cry.  Why do we do this? Why do we feel the need to leave the room and hide when we are bereft? Why are we embarrassed to “still be grieving” when it’s been a year since the death of a loved one? There are so many historical and cultural aspects to this complicated question.

Sign Up for E-News

When we think of the construct of masculinity and our directives to our young sons that “boys don’t cry” or “don’t be a cry baby” what we are really doing – inadvertent as it may be – is robbing our sons of their full humanity, of the full depths of their sorrows and the full expressions of their joys. Girls are not immune to this either, as we live in a society that prizes strength over vulnerability, and sees human frailty as a liability. Tears are the expression of this perceived weakness. But what if our tears meant more? What if our vulnerabilities were the seat of our strength?

A couple of years ago, my friend Amy gave me “The World According to Mister Rogers” for Christmas. On the inside flap Mister Rogers’ writes, “People have said, ‘Don’t cry’ to other people for years and years and all it has ever meant is, ‘I’m too uncomfortable when you show your feelings. Don’t cry.’  I’d rather have them say, ‘Go ahead and cry. I’m here to be with you.'”

A little boy attending one of our support groups said to another little boy, “tears are good, they let the sadness out.”  This little boy gave permission to his friend to cry, to freely express his emotions – the good, the bad, the ugly – without judgment or recriminations. That is the simple and perfect wisdom of children: Tears are good!

As I reflect on Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy, I love that this holiday is a day of service, but I almost wish it were also a day of mourning, a day when we all had permission to cry.  For everyone we've ever loved who is no longer on the planet. In that spirit of loving vulnerability I’d like to say, Happy Birthday, Dr. King.

Imagine is a free year-round children’s grief support center that serves NJ children age 3-18 and young adults 18-30 who are grieving the death of a parent or sibling, or who are living with a parent of sibling with a life-altering illness. Imagine also provides grief education and training for thousands of teachers, parents, coaches, youth and other adults annually.  

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Guest Column.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Berkeley Heights’ Women of the Week (WoW) Series features Beth Ferris Sale

March 18, 2018

In honor of the women who are driving change, blazing trails and nurturing society, the Berkeley Heights Diversity Council is pleased to announce an exciting initiative called, Women of the Week (WoW) Series. In the spirit of community, we wanted to honor the women right here in Berkeley Heights who are impacting the world in their own way for the remaining weeks of Women’s History ...

OLP Presents 'Screenagers' a Documentary on Growning Up in the Digital Age

March 18, 2018

Our Lady of Peace Church and Academy in New Providence will be hosting a special screening of the movie "Screenagers" regarding a very important topic for families and youth – “Growing up in the Digital Age.” The movie delves into the important and current topic of children and teenagers and their use of social media and digital devices. The movie is appropriate for ...

Transform Your Relationship with Food


You will receive on-going support, personalized information, realistic and individualized goals that allow for lasting lifestyle changes, amazing recipes, motivation, sample grocery lists, meal planning assistance, advice on avoiding fad diets, objective feedback and tools to avoid lifestyle diseases.

• Healthy eating Healthy ...

Watchung Hills Coin Club's 36th Annual Coin Show is April 8

The annual Watchung Hills Coin Show will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 8, at the Elks Lodge #1068, 375 Union Ave. (Rt. 28), Bridgewater.

This is the only show sponsored by a local coin club in Central New Jersey. It offers free admission and parking. Young Numismatists are welcome.

The show is the ideal one-stop shopping venue for sellers, as well as buyers. For those wishing ...

NPHS Student's Response to After School Walk-out Plan at NPHS

March 14, 2018

A group of students file into a science classroom amid a nervous din of chatter, the air is electric with excitement and nervousness. This small group of approximately 30 students are a studious bunch, largely members of the sophomore class with squeaky clean administrative histories. They are currently preparing to defy authority and stand up for what they believe in, even though they had been ...

New Providence's Allen W. Roberts School Gets Security Walk Through by Police Department after Bomb Threat

March 12, 2018

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The New Providence Police Department sent a letter to parents and guardians of students at Allen W. Roberts Elementary School after a non-specific bomb threat was reported on Monday afternoon.

It's the second threat  reported at a New Providence school in March. The first threat was reported on March 5th at New Providence High School.

Emergency ...

Avon Loses Its Last ‘Grand’ Hotel to the Claw of an Excavator

March 17, 2018

AVON-BY-THE-SEA, NJ — In less than two days, an Avon-by-the-Sea landmark that stood for 130 years was reduced to a huge pile of rubble. The Norwood Inn no longer stands on the corner of Norwood and Second Avenues — the last of the stately hotels that once graced the streets of Avon.

As onlookers gathered around the demolition site on March 15 and March 16, an excavator clawed its ...

Upcoming Events


Sun, March 18, 10:00 AM


Camp Riverbend Open House

Sun, March 18, 2:00 PM

Miller-Cory House Museum, Westfield

Maple Sugar Sunday



Sun, March 18, 2:00 PM

New Providence Memorial Library, New Providence

Surreal Places, Imaginary Spaces: A Literary Tea

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Sun, March 18, 2:00 PM

Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts, Maplewood

Maplewood Strollers Present John Patrick ...

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, March 18, 3:00 PM

Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church, Plainfield

Crescent Concerts Presents Annual Festival of ...

Arts & Entertainment

JCP&L Representative Describes Utility’s Actions During Storm Quinn, Answers Residents' Questions

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The format of this week’s  Berkeley Heights 'Here and Now' was turned on its head this week. Mayor Bob Woodruff reviewed what happened in the township following Storm Quinn and its predecessor Storm Riley, complete with statistics. He then asked a representative of JCP&L questions about the utility’s response, and how it was ...

Berkeley Heights, Here and Now: Redevelopment Updates

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Mayor's Round Table has been rebranded to "Berkeley Heights, Here and Now." This new format will continue to provide updates from Mayor Bob Woodruff, municipal offices and the Communications Committee want to hear from citizens, businesses and community organizations.

Included in this episode, Mayor Bob Woodruff addresses the status of the ...

You Want a Check for How Much!

 My first admissions gig was working for a small liberal arts college with a pretty hefty price tag.  Picture me at a college fair: name tag in place, pile of brochures ready to go.  An eager family would walk up and we’d start a conversation.  One of the first questions I’d get from parents was about cost and the moment that $50,000-plus figure left my mouth I ...

Now That The Dust Has Settled…Smart Tax Moves In 2018

Now that the dust has settled, here are some smart tax moves to lower your taxes and/or avoid higher taxes/penalties in 2018. These steps may be especially helpful if you live in high property and high income tax states (e.g. New Jersey, New York, California) since state and local tax deductions are capped.  Unfortunately all these changes mean you’ll need more time and energy to ...