11/10/2014 09:48 am ET Updated Jan 10, 2015

Crying Isn't Just for Babies

Andrea Peipe, Cap Photography via Getty Images

I was raised in a hard-working farm family, and no crying was allowed. We were admonished to be tough and never look like sissies. That's such bullsh*t.

There's a powerful cleansing release that comes with tears. I am not embarrassed or ashamed when I cry, and the only reason I won't speak at my mother's funeral next week is because I don't want the snot running down my chin to be a distraction.

We don't need medical science to advocate reasons for crying, but it's good to note that experts agree that stifling tears can be harmful. Sara Courter, a certified wellness counselor, recently wrote in the MindBodyGreen Newsletter:

Crying is cathartic. By shedding tears we are releasing toxins, pent-up emotions, and easing stress. Crying is an authentic and mortal means of helping ourselves to simply feel better.

Crying is natural. Some expressions of, say, anger are not natural. Feelings of anger can be manifested as violent actions, and this is not a wholesome way to experience emotions. Crying, on the other hand, is an organic expression of a wide range of emotions. It is the human body's clever way of seeking release and comfort, naturally, as it always has been. One does not need to identify a particular "reason" for crying. So often we are asked, "Why are you crying?" Well, why not? It's a natural human expression. It's not as though you're running naked down a busy street, crying is not an absurd thing to do so let's refrain from treating it that way, or from allowing others to make us feel as though it's absurd.

As a caveat, I don't endorse endless sniveling. There is a time for a good cry, then a time to blow your nose, pull up your big-girl pants and go on to tackle whatever issues are interrupting your happiness. It doesn't hurt to find something that makes you laugh: a book, movie or silly friend. As the old proverb says, laughter is the best medicine. As this middle-aged writer says, take several doses daily.

As do many teens, I had a contentious relationship with my parents. My father often threatened to send me away to boarding school. I always retorted, "Give me 10 minutes to pack." Now, both my parents have passed away, and I wish I had one more chance to give the perfect response: "I don't want to leave. I'd rather stay and find a reason to laugh with you. OK?"