Rafed English

Breaking the Taboo of Crying

Breaking the Taboo of Crying
by Selma Poulin


Why is it that some of us find it hard to cry when we are faced with pain and loss? Several reasons come to mind. Culturally, we have been raised to be emotionally “strong” to defend our people against tribal enemies. We have passed this practice to succeeding generations, even though the tribal wars are over. As a result, it is hard for us to cope effectively with pain by crying.

I remember holding in my pain as a child attending residential school On two instances, my natural urge to cry overcame me. At age eight, a plane came to get me at my parents’ fish camp. My dad wanted to give me money, but all he could find was fifty cents. I carefully put it in my pocket and guarded it. For some reason I had to stop overnight along the way. When I woke up the next morning, my money had fallen out of my pocket and was lost. At first I tried hard to keep my disappointment in, but before I knew it I was crying uncontrollably. My only link to my dad and community had just disappeared. The family I was staying with tried to console me but to no avail.

Another incident was when I left for Toronto on a train for a minor operation at age twelve with no family escort. Somehow I got through the surgery. Then I found out that I could not go back to school for Christmas as originally planned because there was no room on the train.

Once again I felt utter disappointment and soon was crying uncontrollably. The nurses came running and before I knew it I was on an Air Canada flight back to my familiar surroundings.

Another reason why it is hard for us to express our pain by crying is that some of us were abused in some way. We initially cried, but since there was no relief, we deadened our feelings. As a result, shame and anger took over.

Also, some Christians believe that since God will comfort them and since their loved one has gone to heaven, they should not cry. Actually, the history is full of examples where people cried because of their pain and loss.

Men in general, no matter what culture, find it hard to cry, probably because of strong male image reasons. There are also instances when people are in too much shock initially to cry. That is all right. But they should release their emotions as time goes on.

I want to give several reasons why it is good to cry. First, we can express our pain and loss with tears. In other words, crying relieves and heals the emotional and physical stress that the body is carrying. Diseases are more prevalent when the body does not relieve emotional pain in a healthy manner. Crying does not necessarily mean a release of sadness, but it could be a release of anger.

Another reason is that crying is opening our heart to our loved ones. No wonder our youth are committing suicide! They do not see our hearts and do not feel that they can connect with us. In a sense our hearts are closed to them. Fathers need to cry openly in front of their children. Did you know that children can be great com-forters and have more empathy than adults? In turn, they will feel safe in expressing their emotions in their home and be able to cope with their pain when they get older.

Let us break the taboo of crying and begin to allow ourselves to express our pain through crying. In turn, we can pass this on as a rich cultural heritage to future generations.

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