Friday, 20 May 2016

Tears for fears

Its a long time since I read about the place of tears in the practice of medicine (and indeed in the practice of life). As a GP I have had the enormous privilege of listening to countess people pouring their hearts out to me, and often it means the tears flow. I am not expected to cry with them, although I confess I've been pretty close a few times. It seems I'm a professional tear gatherer. Indeed Matthew Sweet in The Economist writes,

'We would consider it a dereliction of duty if surgeons, nurses, police officers and soldiers wept during working hours. They have surrendered their right to cry in the same way that other employees might sign away their expectation of fixed hours or sick pay. Their restraint gives us the space to express our pain or gratitude, which we buy from them through taxation.'

Why humans cry has been a mystery for a very long time and was first investigated by Charles Darwin in his Expression of the emotions in man and animals. I don't think he ever quite cracked it. I am however, rather taken with this quote form The Shack (a book I'm re-reading and enjoying currently)
'Don't ever discount the wonder of your tears. They can be healing waters and a stream of joy. Sometimes they are the best words the heart can speak.'
There is something both wonderful, unsettling and relieving about our tears. And there is so much we still don't understand about how we humans function in this crazy, glorious and beautiful world.
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