We can scarcely imagine life without tears. We come into the world crying, and when we are hungry or wet or not held enough—no matter how old we are—we cry. Tears come unbidden to us when we are moved by beauty or by someone’s kindness to us. I often cry when a good book or movie has a sad ending, and I cry at a happy ending too. I even cry at Hallmark TV ads.
Most of our tears are not tears of joy. We cry because we mourn the death of loved ones or because we’ve heard a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness. We cry out of regret, out of our “if onlys” or “should haves,” or out of frustration with the direction our life is heading. At other times it’s as if our tear ducts are blocked. We wish we could have a good cry, we say, but for some reason we can’t.