The “problem” of crying in public

One of the problems of living in our modern society is the pressure to conform to a “don’t rock the boat” pattern of behaviour.

This includes

• not crying in public, unless everyone else is

• not getting angry about something, unless everyone else is

• needing something that other people aren’t prepared to give

• needing time alone when other people expect you to be sociable

• needing to be sad when others are having a happy time and expect you to do so as well

• not inconveniencing anyone else with your needs.

DON’T ROCK THE BOAT

This is a particular problem when you have suffered an event that modern society has so removed from view that reacting to that event is considered a “don’t rock the boat” pattern of behaviour.

I am referring here to Grief.

One of the biggest issues people who come to see me report is the fear of crying in public.

Is this something that you experience?

A FIRST QUESTION

My first question is:

• What is it like for you to have the experience of crying in public?

• Is this something embarrassing?

• Do you feel there is a taboo on crying in public?

• Is it something you notice other people feel uncomfortable about, so you try not to do it?

• Do you feel judged, as though you are somehow not mentally stable, because you are crying in public?

• Do you feel other people shut you down when you cry? Are you told to stop? Are you offered platitudes such as “They are in a better place” “Heaven wanted another angel” or demands to stop such as “You’ve got to pull yourself together”?

• Is this your experience, or is your experience something else?

THE NEXT QUESTION

My next question would likely be:

• What if it was okay to cry in public? What if it didn’t matter what other people thought and you just did it anyway?

Our society is very good at putting a taboo on overt emotions. No emotions other than happiness are well tolerated. The difficult emotions are definitely not okay by our society’s standards.

It is one reason we rush to remove those uncomfortable emotions and the events behind them from public view.

HIDING DEATH FROM PUBLIC VIEW

Very few people get to die in their own homes. They are usually in hospital or, if they are lucky, they are in a palliative care unit. As long as they are not out there, visible, in the community everyone is happy.

CHANGING SOCIETY

Change in society occurs gradually and usually because some trailblazers take the courageous step of behaving differently in public.

Of course when you are grieving and your world is in pieces it is difficult, often impossible, to take the conscious step to challenge society’s taboo on displaying uncomfortable emotions.

So change in this area is very slow. It often involves those supporting the grieving person being the ones who challenge the taboo.

EXPECT TO CRY FOR A VERY LONG TIME

Another issue with this public display of emotion is that grief is not over in a matter of hours or days. It stretches on for months and years. In fact, grief never ends. It gets easier and the tears are less frequent, but there is still the possibility of them for the rest of your life.

My question here is, Are you okay with the possibility of public tears a few years from now? Are you okay with the fact that each day carries the possibility of being sad?

DO YOU WANT TO STOP CRYING OR THE REASON BEHIND THE CRYING?

So many people who come to see me just want to stop crying and being sad. But is it the crying you want to stop? Or is it the reason for the crying? When you try to imagine life without the one you love, do you ever want to be okay with that? Or do you want to always love them yet live as well. This of course carries the risk of crying in public. Can you live with that?

DO YOU NEED TO TALK AND BE HEARD?

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief and learning to live with the tears, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

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