Tears7 min read



Shedding tears or lacrimation is the secretion of tears from the eyes in response to an irritation/stimulation. The stimulation could be internal or external. Tears can be shed from reflexes of irritations like an insect flying into the eye or from cutting onions. We shed some when teargassed and these are all external irritants.

Tears shed could also be associated with emotions (internal) – pain, happiness, fear, joy, and despair. Yawning from hunger or sleep and even laughing hard to jokes can get you tearing too.

There are different reasons why we may see a tear fall. And there are 3 basic types of tears I read about on Wikipedia based on their causes.


  1. Basic/Basal Tears
  2. Reactive/Reflex Tears
  3. Emotional/Psychic Tears


Basic or basal tears are natural lubricants for the eyes. They help maintain the moist condition of the eye, especially during dry weather.


Reactive tears are the tears shed due to external irritation. An insect flying into the eye is washed out by reactive tears.


Emotional tears are tears that only mortal humans have the privilege of shedding. Sorrow, happiness and everything in between can cause emotional tears. These are the tears a thespian who is receiving an Oscar Award for the first time may shed when giving an acceptance speech.

Generally, all tears taste differently because they have different causes and are said to look different under the microscope too.

Emotional tears contain leucine enkephalin, a natural painkiller released during stress. I’m guessing this is why we feel refreshed (and even sleep) after crying. These tears are the saltiest and are shed as a result of internal feelings. Tears of joy have lesser salt taste than those of grief and not all are shed to the outside.

Emotional tears = water + salt + emotions.

But where do them special salt-tasting tears come from?

Brine Pool – Jacuzzi of Despair (An analogy).

Watch this 2 minutes video carefully to understand this analogy…

The Brine Pool also called Tub of Despair is a place where large deposits of salt are collected under water. Its salinity is 8 times higher than the average salt water. Fishes sometimes encounter this pool but not all of them live to tell the tale.

Some go into shock and die.

Some are able to wriggle themselves out, rise above the dense, and move away to fresher and less dense waters to continue living.

When they survive they learn not to go too close again because staying too long inside that pool means death.


We can cry when we’re elated.

There are also moments when we just want to go into the bathroom, shut the door, stand/sit/curl under the shower, turn it on and cry, or slide into the tub, and drown ourselves in salty tears. Then go back to the room and wet the pillow some more because we’re deeply hurt.

Heartbreaks, disappointments, grief, war, suffering, and even depression have caused humans to bead tears down their cheeks. Others just get it out, get groomed and get going but others stay in that place for days, weeks, and even months on end – never letting go.

These tears are shed inwardly or outwardly just like bleeding internally or externally. Internal tears that don’t find creative expression outwardly can be toxic. It’s like dying in silence from a heart bleed. But there’s a limit to this expression that is meant to relieve us as we already live in a ‘salty’ environment. Just as too much salt is bad, too little salt is also not good.

We cried as a sign of life when we were born and will still cry afterward. This is the balance of life.


When we cry, we cry from an ocean of emotions deep down inside of us (the ocean is salty water). We cry from pent-up emotions, unachieved desires, memories, and sudden happenings.

Figuratively, we’ve all got brine pools (a place in the mind) from where we cry and also deposit unshed internal tears into. It all comes from somewhere deep within. A place where we can’t physically reach but emotionally we can dive down there and weep till we lose all strength. Our soul’s yearnings and cries are expressed as tears even in prayers.

This may be evident in puffed eyes with eyebags, bloodshot eyeballs, sticky feelings embedded in salty water and rolling down the cheeks… the pH isn’t same as that of the others.

Just like the density of salt in the pool is heavier, you can’t be light(-hearted) when you’re weighed down by heavy-heartedness.

We cry to be relieved. Too much sends to shock and holding back is like an unpatched hole in the heart.

As salt waters are not the same, so also tears are not the same. Some are thicker and saltier – depending on the nature of the internal brine.


I’ve been dealt emotional blows that made me cry. And two stand out – I’ve lost an only sister as a teenager. And my father passed in my arms exactly three years ago on 10th December 2014. The latter made me recoil into bouts of grief that shook me.

For months, I shed ‘brine water’ from my eyes. But I got up from that pool, shook the feeling off, and moved away.

How salty is your pool?

It makes you weaker if you stay, or stronger if you move away.


Things I’ve learned and won’t forget from teardrops:

  1. I won’t live forever. So I got up and lived.
  2. I’ll only live once – So I’ll do, be, and have the best I can.
  3. While I’m still alive I’ll leave no chances to fear and regrets.
  4. I understand that life is a wave – sometimes I’m up, other times, down. But I will keep surfing.
  5. Don’t back down from your dreams, ask why or what the meaning of life is even if it seems like it all goes for nothing. Leave a legacy you’ll forever be remembered for.
  6. Stop counting what you lost and start counting what you’ve still got. Others have lost whole families plus everything and are still kicking.
  7. From pain comes a resolution of some sort or a determination to do something that is life-changing.
  8. In the lowest of times have people truly learned to know and understand themselves, and create a life beyond mortal existence.
  9. In these times you reset your life priorities straight. What if it was my last day on earth?
  10. From depression, near-death and suicide experiences, frustration, disappointment, and heartbreaks, people have risen to create inspiring masterpieces. This piece is an inspiration from one of such times…

So move away from that brine pool, that jacuzzi of despair, and wipe them salty streams away.


It takes a wriggle; a deliberate conscious effort. Stop walking around bent over like a question mark! Square your shoulders and chin up! Move away from everything making you cry and shed better tears. Replace them with tears of joy and laughter.

Understand that crying is a sign of being human. It doesn’t mean you’re weak – It means you’re strong! Get support if you can’t go through it alone. You can’t brood or mourn forever. It kills slowly.

Tell yourself, “I am moving on! This too shall pass.”

No matter how painful or unbearable it seems to be, choose to swim away.

Stop the pity party and dirge-y music.

Understand that when there is life there is a fighting chance and without hope life becomes meaningless. Whatever you’re going through don’t curl up (literally and figuratively) and remain there. Wriggle yourself out.

Don’t think “I’m just a tiny fish in a mighty big salty pond and it’s an unfair one.” Have the mindset of a shark. It dies when it stops swimming.

Choose your tears and who to share them with. In those times either lean on the shoulder of a loved one with a box of paper wipes or you’re in a cinema with a bucket of popcorn shedding rib-cracking tears… These times come and they go. Make the most of them.

From trying times are indelible memories made. They will teach you when you lie down to sleep if you’ll learn – learn to live, to laugh, to love, to cry, and get back on the road of life again.

We’ve all got some we have or not shed yet but don’t let your emotions take a swim in that brine pool…not for long if you ever get there. It’s life so don’t take it personally.

***Dedicated to the memory of my late father and everyone who has lost loved one or secretly struggling. Share with someone***

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