The Power of Tears

It was a tearful week this past week. It was Monday after school when a junior high student told me that she felt like she spent most of the day crying. “We are given tears for a reason,” I responded and she told me about how one of the students who had lost his life in the tragic accident was her neighbor and how hard it was to walk by his house.

It was Tuesday when another student broke down in tears in the middle of a challenge gone wrong. “Stop over-reacting,” his team mates told him, “It’s not a big deal.” The breakdown got bigger and louder. “There’s nothing wrong with tears,” I said, “It shows us how committed he was to doing this well and having his team succeed.” He looked up in surprise. “What virtue would help to balance out the frustration?” “Detachment?” the team responded after looking at the chart of virtues up at the front of my classroom. “Detachment is a difficult virtue to master,” I said, “I’m still working on it.” He brightened up and was ready to try again.

Today a friend sang about his tears at the loss of his friend. As he sang, he closed his eyes and I could see he was on the edge of tears. “How do you feel when you sing this song?” I asked. “It helps to sing about it,” he said. “I don’t know how, it just does.”

Brene Brown talks about the power of vulnerability, and tears often signal when we are at our most vulnerable. But to be vulnerable means to really open ourselves up the the world and others in it. Tears can signal that we allowed something or someone to matter and the loss of that something or someone hurts. So welcome tears, it would be a lonely empty world without you.

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