Learning to grieve: Tips for crying in public

Wednesday Letter #31

A small collection of things I’ve learned from grief related crying in public. You can read previous installments about learning to grieve here and here

  • Always carry tissues. 

  • Message a friend, colleague or family member. This doesn’t have to be about the fact that you are crying, if you don’t want it to be, but simply checking in with them can help shift your attention which might be what you need to get through the rest of the day. 

  • Focus on breathing. I find placing my hand on my stomach helpful because it reminds me to take slower and deeper breaths instead of shallow ones.

  • If you need to, go somewhere private. This could be because you are at work or simply because you don’t feel comfortable crying in a coffee shop or the supermarket. I find bathrooms a great place to hide when I am overwhelmed. 

  • Remember that people are not staring at you as much as you think they are. Honestly, most people are too consumed with whatever is going on in their own lives to notice what is going on with the strangers around them. 

  • The people who do notice your tears are generally lovely about checking on you. I’ve had baristas offer me extra napkins. A woman at a nearby table in café asked whether I wanted company or would I prefer time alone to cry. On a train journey to Dublin for a friend’s funeral earlier this year the man sitting across from me helped distract me by asking questions about the book I was reading.

  • Don’t beat yourself up. I know this is often easier said than done. Remember to be extra kind to yourself, you are only human and sometimes crying is the best thing you can do to help regulate your emotions. Even when those tears are public.

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