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The 'Why' of Tears

By Steve Wickham

Just why do we cry tears? What is their function and purpose? Can we cry too much or not enough? Why do we have dry/wetter days? Simply put, why tears?


Of many possible answers, tears form an emotional response as far equivalent to our pain as we can manage. Tears are an acknowledgment that we have reached our circumstantial limit. This is not a bad thing; it's entirely good.

Women may generally be more 'blessed' regarding the capacity for tears than men, probably due to cultural and gender norms - certainly genetics and their biology, too.

Many men (and women too) have grown up with the "tears are not cool" or "cry and you're weak" social stigma. They may struggle to cry, or resist crying. This may explain, in some part, why some cry less.

The 'nurture' debate has another factor. Some are given more cause to cry than others due to the depth and magnitude of their losses, for instance.

But others, despite their losses and hurts, don't seem predisposed to tears as a coping mechanism. They are not stronger per se, they are just different. Some of this is due to genetics, i.e. gender and parental characteristics.


Crying, as a purpose, is about ameliorating untenable situations. Its function is to, by the agency of the physical shedding of tears, give 'voice' to a soul's admission of emotional ineptitude - for all manner of reasons.

Tears are clearly important in the function and management of grief, adjustment, anger, empathy, even bliss.


It's difficult to say if we can cry too much or not enough. It's highly subjective, dependent on a large number of factors.

Some days, or seasons, are dry and some are wet. Sometimes, we cry tears of joy. Can these, possibly, be too much?

Perhaps grief and other emotional strains have their quotient of tears; if this is so, we best give full expression to our tearful emotion as far as our situations will allow.

Of course, none of this is the 'be all and end all' on the subject of tears, but hopefully it does open this subject up to more open-minded thought and discussion.

Like many topics, there are numerous theses and books and volumes that could be, and indeed are, written on these sorts of subjects.

We can conclude, however, that tears are good; that they are a healthy expression of what we feel, both consciously and subconsciously.

Copyright (c) 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Steve Wickham is a Registered Safety Practitioner (BSc, FSIA, RSP[Australia]) and a qualified, unordained Christian minister (GradDipBib&Min). His blogs are at: and

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