Why do we cry more as we age?

A story about the Rainbow Bridge recently reduced me to tears.

Recently, I looked up the origin of the phrase Rainbow Bridge, the place our pet friends who’ve passed on are said to go. I read the first paragraph of a story and promptly started to cry.

Another time, I was watching the news and one of those adopt-homeless-pets ads filled the screen. That sad doggy face assaulted me, forcing me to quickly change the channel and wipe the tears from my cheeks. Then there’s the news itself, rife with starving children and man’s inhumanity to man, and bingo! I’m crying again.

I find I have the same reaction to certain TV shows and films. I see a flick with cute sailors in their uniforms, think of my World War II veteran Dad who died a few years back, and crumble. I watched a baby humpback on a Discovery program being harassed by killer whales and had to turn the station.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. The thing is, I didn’t used to cry so much. I always considered myself a tough girl. I realize my past careers in sportscasting and officiating—where, as you can well imagine, crying was verboten—may have played a part in my previous lack of tears. And so I wonder if I stored them up too long and now they just need somewhere to go.

The older we get the more we tend to tear up.

It is normal for humans to cry. In fact, in moderation, it seems to be quite therapeutic. Did you know that in Japan there are crying clubs where people get together to blubber their hearts out? The idea is called rui-katsu or tear seeking. According to data from the International Study on Adult Crying—not making this up—the Japanese are near the top of the list for those least likely to shed a tear. Because of all that stoicism, these clubs have become quite popular. (For those who are wondering, Americans are among those most likely to sob, whimper, and wail.)

The good news is, scientifically speaking, crying is said to have a positive biochemical function. It seems weeping might release stress hormones or toxins from the body.

But none of this addresses the reason why that, as we age, we tend to become more emotional. So, I gave it a good think and came up with a completely unscientific answer to the question. I believe our crying is all about memories. The older we are, the more life experiences we’ve encountered. Those memories can be summoned by a picture, a song, a smell, a TV show, and even the food we eat. These stimuli tickle something in our brains that take us back to moments that were important to us, as in the Rainbow Bridge scenario where we recall our lovely pet pals that have moved on.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! Crying is generally good for us.

Maybe, too, we are just more at ease with our emotions when we’re older, having thrown off the shackles that admonished us to never let anyone see us cry. And I for one have decided to embrace my new found weepiness. What changed my mind? Watching my sweetie pie swipe tears from his face as we watched My Octopus Teacher, the Oscar Award winning documentary about a man’s relationship with a sweet sea creature that would die on his watch.

If my big tough guy can cry, well then, so can I.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-castle_front-cover-copy-3.jpg



Anne Montgomery

TouchPoint Press

Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense

September 13, 2021

Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—an ancient pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.

One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.

Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.

One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target. In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.


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6 thoughts on “Why do we cry more as we age?

  1. sharonledwith says:

    I can’t stop thinking of the line, “There’s no crying in baseball!” in the movie A League of their Own! LOL! Crying actually is one of the natural forms of healing. So, heal away, Anne! Seems like we’re kindred spirits. Great post!


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