Is it Unmanly to Express Emotion?

John took the first plane out of O’Hare an hour after I called him with the news that his father might not make it through the night. I met John the next morning. He was a tired and angry broad shouldered sixty-two year old personal injury attorney from Chicago. This process of death and dying can bring out the worst (and best) qualities in people. John showed me the full spectrum of his true livid and exhausted colors.

After spending an hour with John and his father, John surprised me and asked me in a childlike way, if it would be ok if he crawled into bed with his dying father. He wanted to cradle him on his last day of life. I gave him immediate loving permission and gently asked him, “What would stop you?” As if he were ashamed, he said, “I don’t want you to think I am a pansy.” He went on to briefly share that if his father were conscious, he wouldn’t allow such acts of physical affection. His father was abusive when John was a teenager. It seemed that John somehow tapped into the memories of his sweet youth when his father, “Hadn’t discovered alcohol yet.”

I helped John move his unconscious father to the left side of the bed. John crawled in on the right. He tenderly wrapped his arms around his father as he took his last breaths. John openly wept and sobbed mutterings of love and forgiveness. He kept apologizing to me for crying. I stood at the foot of the bed and cried with him.

Why does what other people think keep us from following our heart’s wisdom? Why do some people think it is unmanly to express emotion?

To learn more about Enduring Love: Inspiring Stories of Love and Wisdom at the End of Life, please visit: www.enduringlovebook.com

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