Men’s Talks

Masculinity in Time of Grief: Should a Man Cry?

The world over, it is commonly believed that men are supposed to be strong and not show their emotions when an experience demands crying. When they suffer a heart break, lose a wife, a mother or any other person dear to them, common practice demands that they hide or shoulder the pain, cap them within their bowels, and digest them. If a man shed tears during such cases, it is seen as a sign of weakness. It is taken that such a man is ‘not man enough’, or unworthy to be called a man. Or such a man can be mockingly called a ‘woman’. In the Yoruba tradition, a king is never to shed tears, no matter the circumstance, or how grave the bad incident that occurred may be.

However, this trend is not restricted to Africa. It’s  universal. Generally, in line with the belief of patriarchy, or ‘the stronger vessel’ mentality, men are supposed to have more energy to control the deepest of their impulses in order to react calmly to emotional trauma, grief, shock, or death.

This is especially true of men when they are in public. However, this practice, just like any other, has a reason.  One reason is because men are supposed to be the comforters. For example, if a couple lose their child; the man is, instinctively, supposed to console the wife—and not to start crying along like a baby.’

Of course, he will be pained, but he isn’t allowed to show it by crying, or being unnecessarily down. He is supposed to brave up, and stand up for his wife.  This is a good role for the men to play. As the head of the family, the man should be able to put the family back on track after a disaster or grief; he should be able to restore the lost energy; he should be able to bring himself together in order to help others unite their broken pieces. However, a question still persists. Is it good for men to bottle up their emotions because they would be perceived as weak? Should men hide their emotions and hurt themselves more? Is it more beneficial for a man to show his emotion, to lay out his grief…? Should men cry?

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If a man sheds tears, is it a sign of Weakness?

If a man shows his emotion publicly (e.g. by shedding tears), is it a sign of weakness. Even the former President of the United States has been caught in the web of this popular believe.


According to a Huffington post published earlier this year:

In January 2016, there was plenty of commentary about President Obama’s public display of emotion (shedding a tear) while discussing gun violence in the United States (U.S.). The questions that immediately emerged were related to whether it’s appropriate for a country’s leader to display emotion. These comments were made as if being emotional or crying would somehow diminish the power of, or respect for the man and the office. An alternative view is that it represents caring and compassion, along with a display of a lack of ego, strength, confidence, and self-awareness…

What are your thoughts? Do you think crying is a sign of weakness for men? Should men continue to hide their feeling while it bloats and boils within them just because they are men?

As you ponder on this question, we’ll discuss some reasons why men should be allowed to let go of their emotions:

Reduces Pain

As a spontaneous reaction to the death of a loved one or injury, releasing our emotion helps to reduce the pain we get when our emotion gets tensed. Bottling up emotions makes it harder to let go of the pain. It makes them linger longer.

Speeds up the Healing Process

Shedding tears or showing our emotions can  heal us faster. Because the pain is reduced when we let go, the process of healing, restoration or regaining normalcy is enhanced. It’s the other way round, however, when we harbour the pain, the intense feeling, and the emotions.  Letting go, therefore, can be both therapeutic and cathartic.

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Strengthens Rather than Weaken

Contrary to popular belief, letting go helps to enliven us. It even makes it easier to cope with grief, fear, and guilty feeling. When we let go of the pain, the healing comes much  faster; restoration of normalcy and energy for purposeful living come along too. On the other hand, the man who bottles it up may find it hard coping with the inner tumult. Feelings such as guilt, inadequacy, etc. can begin to set in, thus, making rebuilding from the rubble of one’s grief a torturous process.


All the aforementioned benefits  add up to restoring us to the normal life we used to have before the disequilibrium set in. It makes it easier to forge ahead, forgetting the past, and seeking newer prospects, renewing purpose, goals or dreams.

So, I ask the question again: Should a man cry?



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