“Real Men Cry”: The Cathartic Release of the Pain They Felt

Over the past month, the world has watched as many athletes mourned the unexpected and death of a Basketball Icon and his daughter, Kobe and Gianna Bryant; along with seven others.

Many watched as Lebron James rallied not only the Lakers Organization but the Lakers fan base.

Others watched Shaq, a man of tall stature, appear to look solemn and lost, the day after Kobe’s death as well as right after the Dr. Dre tribute during All-Star weekend.

We as a society felt their loss, sadness, disbelief, and too struggle with understanding how something so tragic could happen.

We were unprepared and wasn’t for sure if we’d be able to embrace this reality.

I can’t even begin to recall how many wives and ladies on facebook during the last month has alluded, through their post, to the emotions their husbands, boyfriends, and male friends were experiencing and expressing as they grappled to not only accept that Kobe had perished but also, to an extent, faced the reality of their own mortality.

Tears formed and they had begun to allow themselves to become vulnerable.

They found comfort in knowing that as they cried they were in good company and had no reason to hide in shame.

As a result of the untimely death of Kobe and Gianna Bryant; many, to include men, were able to have a cathartic experience.

Crying, according to research, has been found to be cathartic in nature. More specifically, the receipt of social support, experiencing a resolution to the event that caused the crying episode, and achieving a new understanding of the event are positively related to catharsis (Bylsma, Vingerhoets, & Rottenberg, 2008).

Crying, despite what society my think, doesn’t make a man appear weak.

Crying allows individuals, especially men, the ability to cleanse their soul by releasing suppressed emotions and the opportunity to experience healing.

Over the last few weeks, there have been many who have experienced healing in a way they never would have imagined, gaining a new perspective on their lives and the lives of others around them.

They’ve challenged societal perception of men.

You know the perception that “real men don’t cry” or better yet, “men who cry are weak”.

Those are the perceptions that have held men captive to their emotions for to long, yet, now that they have had the opportunity to begin releasing them and become comfortable with those emotions they had buried deep down inside.

Real men do and should cry. It’s okay! This past month has proven such!


Bylsma, Lauren & Vingerhoets, Ad & Rottenberg, Jonathan. (2008). When is Crying Cathartic? An International Study. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. 27. 1165-1187. 10.1521/jscp.2008.27.10.1165.

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