In This Newsletter

 (1) Health Benefits of Tears (2) Breathtaking Tear Photos -Topography of Tears  
(3) A Child's Grief Perspective (4) Dr. Neimeyer: Grief Over Celebrities (5)  A Special FREE Workshop (6) griefHaven News

and make the grief world
a softer place to be

The Health Benefits of Tears
Yes! Health Benefits!
 by Dr. Judith Orloff

Dr. Judith Orloff

     For over twenty years as a physician, I've witnessed, time and again, the healing power of tears. Tears are your body's release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety, and frustration. Also, you can have tears of joy, say when a child is born, or tears of relief when a difficulty has passed. In my own life, I am grateful when I can cry. It feels cleansing, a way to purge pent-up emotions so they don't lodge in my body as stress symptoms, such as fatigue or pain. To stay healthy and release stress, I encourage my patients to cry. For both men and women, tears are a sign of courage, strength, and authenticity.

     In " Emotional Freedom ," I discuss the numerous health benefits of tears. Like the ocean, tears are salt water. Protectively, tears lubricate your eyes, remove irritants, reduce stress hormones, and contain antibodies that fight pathogenic microbes.

    Our bodies produce three kinds of tears: reflex, continuous, and emotional. Each kind has different healing roles. For instance, reflex tears allow your eyes to clear out noxious particles when they're irritated by smoke or exhaust. The second kind, continuous tears, are produced regularly to keep our eyes lubricated--these contain a chemical called "lysozyme" which functions as an anti-bacterial and protects our eyes from infection. Tears also travel to the nose through the tear duct to keep the nose moist and bacteria free. Typically, after crying, our breathing and heart rate decrease, and we enter into a calmer biological and emotional state.


     Emotional tears have special health benefits. Biochemist and "tear expert" Dr. William Frey at the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis discovered that reflex tears are 98% water, whereas emotional tears contain stress hormones excreted from the body through crying. After studying the composition of tears, Dr. Frey found that emotional tears shed these hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress. Additional studies also suggest that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body's natural pain killer and "feel-good" hormones. Interestingly, humans are the only creatures known to shed emotional tears, though it's possible that elephants and gorillas do, too. Other mammals and also salt-water crocodiles produce reflex tears which are protective and lubricating.

     Crying makes us feel better, even when a problem may persist. In addition to physical detoxification, emotional tears heal the heart. You don't want to hold tears back. Patients sometimes say, "Please excuse me for crying. I was trying hard not to. It makes me feel weak." My heart goes out to them when I hear this. I know where that sentiment comes from: parents who were uncomfortable around tears, or a society that tells us we're weak for crying--in particular that "powerful men don't cry." I reject these notions. The new enlightened paradigm of what constitutes a powerful man and woman is someone who has the strength and self-awareness to cry. These are the people who impress me, not those who put up a macho front of faux bravado.

    Try to let go of outmoded, untrue conceptions about crying. It is good to cry. It is healthy to cry. Crying helps to emotionally clear sadness and stress. It is also essential to resolve grief when waves of tears periodically come over us after we experience a loss. Tears help us process the loss so we can keep living with open hearts. Otherwise, we are setting ourselves up for depression if we suppress these potent feelings. When a friend apologized for curling up in the fetal position on my floor, weeping, depressed over a failing romance, I told her, "Your tears blessed my floor. There is nothing to apologize for."

     I've been enthusiastic about crying for years. In fact, during my psychiatric residency at UCLA when supervisors and I watched videos of me with patients, they would point out that I'd smile when a patient cried. "That's inappropriate," they'd say. I disagreed then; I still do. I wasn't smiling because my patients were depressed or grieving. I was smiling because they were courageously healing depression or other difficult emotions with tears. I was happy for their breakthrough. In my life, I love to cry. I cry whenever I can. I wish I could more. Thank God our bodies have this capacity. I hope you too can appreciate the experience. Let your tears flow to purify stress and negativity.

Judith Orloff, MD, is the New York Times best-selling author of Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life, upon which this article is based. In her Santa Monica private practice, Dr. Orloff specializes in treating highly sensitive people. Dr. Orloff's work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, the Oprah Magazine and USA Today. She provides workshops. Visit her website for more information at

griefHaven thanks Dr. Orloff for her generosity
in sharing her wisdom and research with us,
as well as the important work she does
with the Highly Sensitive Person.

The Topography of Tears

An extraordinary photographic
study, with quotes
by Rose-Lynn Fisher

See the phenomenal photos and
explanation of microscopic tears below.

Timeless Reunion
Timeless reunion
Book Cover
The Topography of Tears
Click on photo
to order book
"I suddenly wondered ... Are tears of sorrow
different than tears of happiness?"

Tears shed on the death of a dear friend who died quite suddenly,
unexpectedly; it was shocking--an aberration.
Brevity of time (out of order)
losing you

The Topography of Tears is a study of tears photographed through an optical microscope that I began in 2008, in a period of grief and personal change."

"Tears are the medium of our most primal language in moments as unrelenting as death, as basic as hunger, and as complex as a rite of passage. They are the evidence of our inner life overflowing its boundaries, spilling over into consciousness."

Tears shed on the passing of an important friend: He was someone Rose-Lynn had lost contact with for many years, but they were eventually able to reconnect, and she was able to thank him for being a deep part of her life. Their friendship was renewed as though no time had passed and continued on. When she heard that he had died, she felt grief over losing him, but also profound gratitude for having found him again and for having that which does not end with death.
Timeless reunion (in an expanding field)

Meet Rose-Lynn Fisher
Click Photo to Learn More About
Rose-Lynn Fisher

"Even within one tear drop there is variation
from one tiny region to another."

"Tears spontaneously release us to the possibility of realignment, reunion, catharsis, intractable resistance short-circuited. Shedding tears, shedding old skin. It's as though each one of our tears carries a microcosm of the collective human experience, like one drop of an ocean."

Tears shed by Rose-Lynn in the midst of overhauling her life, needing to make many changes but not knowing where to begin. Then there was a moment, a glimmer of what was possible--hope for a better future. She began to cry these actual tears.

Rose-Lynn's email to Susan Whitmore:

Dear Susan,

Timeless reunion  and Brevity of time (out of order) losing you are both tears of grief, although Timeless reunion  was a co-mingling of grief and gratitude. Possibility/hope  is just that. Most of the tears in my study are my own, along with tears from other people. No matter what, they are a variety of tears shed in a  moment of intense feeling, some sad, some happy, some laughing, etc. They do look very different from each other, but it's important to remember that my work is not a controlled scientific study; and there are many variables that influence their appearance. These tears are not representative of all other tears that come from the same emotion; they are not diagnostic, working your way back to the emotion .... they are more like momentary landscapes of a realm of emotion visited and experienced.  
My best,

                    Book Info:
                    Her Website:

Rose-Lynn Fisher  is an L.A. artist working in photography and mixed media. Her art explores a sense of place along the micro/macro continuum in series that include microscopic and aerial photography. She is the author of the photography book, BEE, highly magnified views of the honeybee. Her work has been widely featured online and in print, including Smithsonian Magazine, The New Yorker, Wired, and Harper's (among many others), exhibited in museums of art, science, natural history, and anthropology in the United States and abroad (including Palais de Tokyo in Paris and Boston Museum of Science), and is represented by Craig Krull Gallery in Santa Monica.
Jessica Weinstock
by Jessica Weinstock

"I have no idea what death means... Everybody cries  all the time. It makes me sad ..."

     Today is June 16, 2004. I am six years old. I just came home from school a couple of hours ago, and I'm with my dad, sister, brother, and grandma. My grandma usually doesn't come over during the school week, so this is kind of weird. 

     My dad calls us into the den, and he says we have to talk. Usually when my parents say that, it's pretty scary because what if I'm in trouble? We all sit on the couch, and he says, "Someone in our family is in the hospital, and we are not sure if they are going to make it." The first thing I think of is, "My mommy is dying!"  My mom is not in the house, and I have no idea where she is, but somebody is dying. Three of us start crying because we are all thinking the same thing, "Where is our mom?" Daddy keeps talking and then tells us that it is not our mom--that it is my one-year-old cousin, Jared.

     My dad tries to explain to us what being on life support means, but I do not understand. How can you be alive, but actually dead at the same time? What does it mean for someone to die? Am I ever going to see him again? I have no idea what death means because I have never experienced a death in my life; this is my first.

     It's been a couple days now, and Mommy never smiles anymore. We are getting ready for a funeral. What happens at a funeral? I don't even know what that word means, but everybody is wearing black, and everybody is sad. A strange man walks up to my brother, sister, seven cousins, and me, and he says, "It's almost like Jared is a doll. He looks the same, but he doesn't have any feeling inside." I have no idea what he means.

     We all have to sit down now, and I'm afraid to ask questions. Everybody cries all the time. It makes me sad that everybody else is sad, and I still don't understand where my baby cousin is. We are all quiet now, and all these grownups are talking with really big words that I don't understand. Then these people start to lower a big, huge box into the ground, and everyone has flowers. There's a huge mountain of dirt, and everyone is standing around it. Then my mom says it's time to go, so we go to grandma and grandpa's house.

     We return to the grave site a few days later, and there is no more dirt, but there is a small piece of paper in a green frame that has plastic over it. I ask my mommy what it is, and she says that it's a temporary gravestone. Then she shows me my great grandparents' gravestones, and tells me that Jared's will look like that in a year.

     Every night we go to my grandparents' house, and so many people are there. Everybody is still wearing black. All my aunts and uncles don't even talk anymore. I'm starting to understand that I will never see Jared again. But where is he?

  "Instead of being in a state
of having to grieve over him,
I'm left with this feeling of him ..."

Jessica and Jared - 2004

     That temporary gravestone is still there. June 16, 2014 will be the ten-year mark of my cousin's death. Sometimes it takes years to process death, sometimes it takes decades, and sometimes it takes a lifetime. Now that I'm 16, I still can't say that I understand more than I did as a six-year-old child. I don't understand why an innocent and precious baby boy had to leave this world in an instant. A lot has happened these past ten years. My aunt just recently started to wear colors again. Whenever I see clouds with rays of sun peeping through them, I think of Jared. Every year we go to his grave for his birthday and celebrate his life with freshly hatched butterflies, balloons, and birthday cake.

     Jared died on my grandparents' wedding anniversary, and I just recently learned that they changed their anniversary date the day after he died. Although an anniversary should be celebrated with happiness and amazing memories, this day will never be a happy one for them, or for any of us again. Ten years later, Jared still sits at every Jewish holiday dinner. His mom puts a picture of him in a frame that looks like a chair, and he is right there with us.

     This tragedy definitely made me realize how much it truly robbed my whole family of pure happiness. I learned how to value my life. I learned that this is not something you ever get over. I learned how precious life is and how I must never take anything for granted. I learned about love and pain and how deeply they affect us, motivate us, abuse us, and change us. I have never expressed my feelings about this horrible experience; so taking on the writing of this essay puts me in a place of pain, but also helps me to realize that I am honoring Jared in a way that I have never been able to do before. I sleep with a picture of Jared next to me every night, and sometimes, if I'm lucky, he comes to visit me in my dreams. When this happens, I finally feel like I am at peace again. When he's back, I don't feel pain anymore because it's like he never left. All the problems that have occurred within my family just disappear because he is with us again. But when I wake up, I go back to this place of reality.

     Losing someone reminds you how much they meant to you, and although Jared and I were so young, and I barely remember playing with my little cousin, losing him made me realize how truly important he was and is to me. There's a hole that I feel in my heart because something was taken from me and from the people that I love and care about. There's an emptiness that can never be filled. There's a deep sadness that will never go away because something was taken from us.

     When I think of Jared, or when I see pictures of him, it reassures me that he is the epitome of an angel. Everything about him was so pure, and there was not a single negative feeling or thought toward him. His existence represented happiness and positivity, and the reason why he is a real angel is because you cannot get that with anyone else. I may never have the experience of having someone in my life that is as innocent and wonderful as Jared because there is nothing bad to say, nothing bad to think, and nothing bad to feel about him. Instead of being in a state of having to grieve over him, I'm left with this feeling of him--the feeling that everything is just good, and it is as simple as that.

Jessica is 18 years old. She attends the University of Michigan
and is majoring in Psychology. She loves working with children
and volunteering her time for those who are less fortunate.

Learn how to support a child who is grieving by requesting information from griefHaven at

Q & A

Dr. Robert Neimeyer,

Renowned Grief Expert

Dr. Robert A. Neimeyer
The Death of Prince

Why We Grieve When A Public
Person We Have Grown
to Love Dies

Dear Dr. Neimeyer,

     The death of Prince raises several interesting questions about grief following the death of a celebrity. Is it possible to truly grieve for someone you've never met personally? So many posts on Facebook state that people are "gutted," "heartbroken", "devastated" in the wake of this very public loss.

     As with the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Michael Jackson, Princesses Diana, Eva Peron and David Bowie, why do you suppose people feel such strong bonds to certain celebrities and public figures? Grief and grieving are complex, I know, but might you have any advice for people on how to cope with/heal from the death of a celebrity?

                             --Sofi Papamarko, Reporter with the Toronto Star

Dear Sofi,

     We grieve all those to whom we are attached, whether by bonds of kinship, love, or identification. When the person we lose matters to us greatly, loss of their presence and participation--even symbolic participation--in our lives leaves us feeling reduced and impoverished, and the sadness, withdrawal, and loss of meaning that we call grief is a natural response. Rather than questioning the legitimacy of this experience in the case of the death of a celebrity with whom we are highly identified, it might be more appropriate to marvel at the human capacity to invest ourselves greatly in the lives of others, well beyond our immediate circle of family and friends.

     The loss of a public figure can trigger the purest form of grief, in the sense that they may embody our ideals in a way that is less complicated by the disappointment, ambivalence, and occasional conflict that can characterize our closest relationships. Celebrities in particular may exemplify our values, ideals, and aspirations, and so their deaths may represent the death of a part of ourselves. Especially when this identification was forged in our teen years, when we are passionately seeking models on which to construct an emerging sense of self, our bonds with famous figures can be intense, and for the part of us that yearns to retain that youthful part of ourselves, witnessing their passing easily triggers our nostalgia for a keenly meaningful chapter in our own life stories, and the resulting grief can be very real.

     One ironic advantage of losing a celebrity with whom we are highly identified is that countless others will be mourning the same loss, affording us generous opportunities to share our grief and our remembrance of the deceased. Many losses in life are relatively invisible, and easily become silent stories that find no audience, leaving us feeling more alone and disconnected from the social world. In contrast, the death of a celebrity offers numerous opportunities to honor the deceased in venues as public as mass funerals or celebrations of their lives, and as private as an anonymous post on a grief blog or web site.  For some, reflecting on what features the celebrity embodied that we value (whether creativity, the pursuit of social justice, or achievement) and can strive to extend in our own lives can be a source of both consolation and personal growth, honoring the other by dedicating ourselves to continuing their legacy.

     Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D., is one of the foremost authorities on grief and bereavement. He is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Memphis where he also maintains an active clinical practice. He has published 27 books, including
Techniques of Grief Therapy: Creative Practices for Counseling the Bereaved and
Grief and the Expressive Arts: Practices for Creating Meaning. He also serves as Editor of the journal
Death Studies.

     As the author of over 400 articles and book chapters, Dr. Neimeyer is a frequent workshop presenter and is currently working to advance a more adequate theory of grieving as a meaning-making process.

     Dr. Neimeyer served as President of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) and Chair of the International Work Group for Death, Dying & Bereavement.

griefHaven thanks After Talk for sharing Dr. Neimeyer's Q&A segments with us.
Visit After Talk here:  AfterTalk
Support, Events, and More
Chanel Brenner
griefHaven presents
a FREE workshop:

A Grief Writing Workshop

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Chanel Brenner, Award-Winning Poet and Author
of VANILLA MILK: A Memoir Told In Poems leads this inspirational and healing workshop.

Chanel Brenner lost her beloved son, Riley, and began
writing poetry as one way of dealing with her grief.
Finding writing a powerful outlet, she created Vanilla Milk, which resulted in awards...and more writing...and more awards. Now Chanel brings her gifts to you.

In this supportive workshop, Chanel will inspire participants to explore writing exercises that open a connection to their inner voice. No writing experience necessary . You will be encouraged to share what you have written with the other participants, but it is not required.

"For our writing to be a healing experience,
we honor our pain, loss, and grief.
We go with our pain and into it...through
expressing ourselves,  we establish connection
with others and the world."
- Louise DeSalvo, Author of  Writing as a Way of Healing

"Joy sneaks in, even as we mourn: Listening to music, riding my bicycle,
I catch myself feeling, in a way that's as old as I am but suddenly seems unfamiliar, comes back to me as if from a great distance, this old delight in the world."
                       - Mark Doty,  Heaven's Coast

When:   Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Time:     7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.
Limit:    10 participants
Where:  West Los Angeles. Address to be given upon enrollment.

To enroll or for questions,
please email:



Space available
in both groups

Call or email for details
(310) 459-1789



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a softer place to be






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