How to Deal With Grief Crying Spells: 11 Tips


When you suffer through the death of a loved one or other significant losses in life, coping with grief can be exhausting and taxing on your emotions. Your defenses lower, and your susceptibility to suffering from adverse grief reactions rises. Suddenly, you turn into this different person who you hardly recognize. One who seems to cry all the time, for no reason. 

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Crying spells are a common and natural grief reaction that affects all genders and age groups, although not equally. Women tend to experience more frequent and more prolonged crying spells than men or children. Tears are a part of the overall grief experience, and no one is immune to suffering through unwelcome emotions when dealing with profoundly painful losses. Continue reading below to learn more about what crying spells look like and how to deal with them.

What Do Crying Spells Look and Feel Like When You’re Grieving?

Spontaneous outbursts of uncontrollable crying can happen to anyone for many different reasons. The circumstances of your grief aren’t as important as their consequences when trying to regain your footing after suffering a debilitating loss. 

When you’re grieving, crying spells manifest as unexpected and often unwanted displays of emotion. You may feel overwhelmed and out of control whenever you get the urge to cry when you don’t want to.

Grieving is hard work. Every day presents a new challenge. And when you start to get ahold of your emotions, something else happens that throws you off balance. Crying spells can make you feel as if you’ve taken several steps back in your grief recovery, leaving you confused and unable to move forward every time you experience one. 

Crying spells are ugly and unwelcome by most bereaved persons. However, they are also healing and necessary to move through your grief.  

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How to Deal With Your Own Grief Crying Spells

Individuals who have experienced a significant loss will experience bouts of crying spells throughout their grief-healing process. When you experience debilitating sadness and sorrow, it’s appropriate for you to cry for as much and for as long as necessary. 

Releasing your emotions is a healthy way of dealing with your grief. Trying to hold in the tears while being stoic around others can harm your emotional wellbeing and stall your healing process. 

However, if you’re suffering from your fair share of uncontrollable crying spells during inopportune times, here are some tips that might help you.

1. Let the tears flow

When faced with a spontaneous crying spell, the best thing to remember is that it's unhealthy for you to hold back your tears. It's appropriate and expected behavior for you to feel like crying when you've gone through a terrible experience in life. 

Your tears might make others around you feel uncomfortable, and that's understandable in our society that isn't prepared to deal with grief. An excellent way to handle a situation like this is to excuse yourself to a private area where you can unleash your sorrow. In time, your crying spells will lessen. 

2. Go easy on yourself

Sometimes you want to criticize yourself for showing your emotions in situations deemed inappropriate to do so. The workplace is one place where openly grieving is still considered taboo. Although many companies are now adjusting their bereavement policies, this doesn’t mean that company heads and your coworkers want to see your tears. 

People are generally uncomfortable with the open display of emotions. You’ll inevitably let loose some tears when overwhelming feelings of grief come up. Crying is a natural and normal reaction to distress. Try not to be so hard on yourself and withhold any personal judgment. 

3. Take a deep breath

It’s OK to fall apart emotionally. Nothing will happen to you if you cry your eyes out in a fit of despair. Even if you’ve suffered other debilitating losses before this one, your grief responses won’t be the same. Each experience is different, and so is how you respond to your loss. 

However you respond, there’s nothing wrong with it. Try and remember to breathe while letting the tears flow. After a few minutes, you’ll feel better and resume whatever you were doing. Brush off the crying spell and keep moving forward.

4. Don’t make excuses

Your grief doesn't owe anyone an explanation at any time. What you're going through is a personal experience, and you owe nothing to anyone. Your only commitment is to yourself when dealing with the pain and sorrow of your loss. 

Get comfortable around the idea that your tears will show up consistently in the beginning stages of grief and sporadically as you work toward healing. Both of these grief reactions are normal and a healthy sign of recovery. Even when you cry hysterically, it's still getting you a step closer to healing, and you should embrace the opportunity to release your pain. 

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5. Make time for your grief

While you may temporarily trick yourself into believing that you can control your emotions after suffering a significant setback, in the long run, pushing away your tears may result in crying spells. 

Instead of holding back your feelings, set time aside daily to be alone with your grief. When you spend time connecting with your emotions, you discover your specific triggers. You can then learn to temporarily suppress them so you can deal with them at a more appropriate time. 

6. Consider getting counseling 

Tears are ultimately a good sign that you're healing from the pain and sorrow of your loss. If you aren't generally the crying type and you find it difficult to express your emotions, but now you're crying uncontrollably, it may be time to seek counseling. 

Remember that you won't always feel like crying and that it's OK to admit when you need help. Your tears won't destroy you, so go ahead and have a good cry. In time, and with appropriate therapy if needed, you'll recover from this setback and get your life back on track.

How to Help a Loved One Deal With a Grief Crying Spell

Your loved one who’s on a personal journey to recovery may need some help regaining their footing along the way. Here are some tips to help you support a family member or friend when they experience a crying spell.

7. Give them permission to cry

A person who’s going through a lot of stress may go through several crying spells before they start feeling better. Allow this process to take shape without making your loved one feel uncomfortable in their grief. Make them feel free to cry whenever and as much as they need to. 

Crying is a healthy part of the bereavement process and has no adverse side effects. When your loved one experiences uncontrollable grief, think of it as them getting one step closer to healing. They’ll feel better afterward, and your relationship may strengthen as a result of your unconditional support. 

8. Be their advocate

Your loved one may not have any choice when it’s time for the tears to flow. Spontaneous outbursts of emotion are part of grieving and nothing to be ashamed of. Although it can be mortifying to show emotions in public, sometimes there’s no controlling it. 

You can comfort your grieving loved one by giving them your support through these moments and by advocating for them. You can clear the way for them to get to a safe area, cut short an outing without complaint, or fend off stares from strangers.

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9. Understand their grief

It’s natural to cry when someone dies. Although you can never fully understand the true depth of your loved one’s sorrow, you can certainly understand their grief. Getting back on track after enduring unspeakable pain will take an uncertain course. Some days will be better than others, and at times your loved one will feel hopeless. 

This roller coaster of emotions continues throughout the road to becoming whole once again. Your loved one will need any added support you can give them as new challenges and setbacks appear.

10. Have patience

Grief takes time, and the amount of time needed is different for everyone. You might begin to feel frustrated at times with your loved one’s spontaneous outbursts of grief. When you thought they were in a better place, you’ll find that they’ve taken a few steps back in their progress. The expected consequences of grief are many small victories and more significant setbacks. 

Your loved one may feel the same frustrations as you, but for them, their grief gets in the way of dealing with other emotions. There are different stages and types of grief that affect bereaved individuals. Your loved one may be making their way through theirs in the best way they know how.

11. Look for progress

Every narrow win is a great victory when overcoming grief. Your loved one will benefit from your continued support throughout their journey. Whenever they’re feeling defeated, look for ways to encourage them and lift their mood. You don’t need to give them false hope or praise them in inauthentic ways. But, they will need to know and hear that:

  • Crying spells are common, and they don’t last.
  • Tears are a sign of healing.
  • You’re there with them every step of the way.
  • They need time to heal.

Crying Spells Lead to Healing

Any loss can cause an overwhelming amount of grief, leading to spontaneous bouts of uncontrollable crying. Shedding tears is an essential part of the grieving process and nothing to be ashamed of or alarmed by. Recovering from grief takes time, and listening to your body’s physical and emotional responses to loss is an integral part of the overall process. Crying spells are a natural, normal, and wonderful part of grief and a visible sign of healing. 

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