Sunday, February 5, 2012

One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times – Chapter 81

#81 – “Have a good cry. That’s why women live longer than men, because they cry.”

In 1988 when I read Larry McMurtry’s pivotal novel, Lonesome Dove, it really pissed me off. “Cowboys, guns, horses and whores,” I ranted to my husband, “And all the women are a bunch of bawl-babies.”  After crying my eyes out for ten years between 1978 and 1988 (another story, another day), not only was my reservoir of tears depleted, I was also really tired of crying. Then I went into my bitter, defensive phase, and felt that when women cried it made them seem weak. Like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind who swore, “I’ll never be hungry again,” I was determined to never cry again, and let me tell you that can make you hard.

In fact, it made me so hard that I pretty much built a wall around my heart, and the only people allowed in were my children and a few close friends. It took me 10 years to let my husband in, and another 10 years to let myself feel emotionally free to cry.

Of course I had to consult my KOAT (knower-of-all-things: Wiki) to get to the bottom of this crying thing, and found some pretty interesting information. Click on Read More Below...

The act of crying is clinically defined as a complex “secretomotor” phenomenon referred to as lacrimate. There’s emotional and non-emotional crying (i.e., watery eyes), and the tears that come from an emotion are chemically very different from the tears that come from allergies or other irritations.

Science, however, really knows little about crying. Some say only humans cry, but others say elephants also cry. Some say we cry because our ancestors burned the dead and the smoke irritated their eyes, so tears became associated with sadness. There’s even a clinical explanation for the lump in our throat that often comes with crying.

Studies show that on average, women cry 30-64 times a year and men 6-17 times per year. Men tend to cry 2-4 minutes and women 6 minutes. Crying turns into sobbing for 65% of women and 6% men.

Mom said that when you cry, you release pent up feelings, good and bad, and it is like a stress release valve. Curiously, science has never documented a clinical correlation between crying and living longer, but there are plenty of studies that show that women live a lot longer than men, so I'm pretty sure mom was right. Let's all just go have a good, long, sobbing cry shall we?


  1. This is so profound and so wise of you to explore crying. Fascinating subject!!!

  2. Just so you know I did alot of crying during that time too--never thought I would get over missing my best friend--didn't--just learned to live with it! Guess we all survived with a few battle scars--older and wiser! Loved the pics of your girl get together You, Jolene, and Sidney look beautiful together! Luv, Linda Sue

  3. Linda Sue: I cannot put into words how much it has meant to me all these years that you stuck by me when so many others didn't, regardless of whether I deserved it or not. That is truly the test of love and friendship. Luv you too, always, Sue