Is being emotional sign of weakness?

In our lesson, I encounter this statement, "The more one can remain unmoved in the face of death, the stronger one is." Question: Is being emotional (ex. crying) is a sign of weakness?

To Cry or Not To Cry

According to SN15.3, the Buddha mentioned “From being united with the unloved and separated from the loved, the flow of tears you’ve shed while roaming and transmigrating is definitely more than the water in the four oceans.”

When one feels crucial pain physically or emotionally, tears will flow out on their own accord. Seeing or hearing that someone close is going to die would trigger the mind. If one fears losing this ‘someone’, then one would feel intense pain emotionally. The Buddha stated that this condition is due to ‘clinging’.

When one life ceases, no amount of tears can bring back someone who is dead. As soon as one understands that death is just the beginning of another life, one will not shed tears so easily. Being emotional (eg. crying at a funeral) is not a sign of weakness. Crying is a normal reaction to loss, especially when one has a strong attachment to the deceased. Crying is a sign of respect for the deceased in some cultures. It is a way of saying their final goodbyes to the departed. Therefore, crying is not a sign of weakness.

However, crying at the moment before death is not encouraged, both for the living or dying. In the face of death, it is urged that the person involved has to be mindful. Mindfulness of death is important. If the dying person’s mind is still stable and clear at the moment of death, it is not the suitable time to be emotional. For example, one who wishes to be reborn in the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha, should make full use of their energy to chant Namo Amituofo. If the dying person’s mind is already unstable and emotional, those present at that moment should help them to stay calm and chant Namo Amituofo. This is to help the dying person die mindfully in order to be reborn in the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha.

If this is the only moment to say goodbye, might as well create a peaceful memory for all, instead of a wailing ceremony. This applies to all situations – death or no death.


the problem is possibly that of "throwing karma".
Namely, one may have potential for a good rebirth, but due to hectic or irrational feelings and/or circumstances, one may approach death on the wrong foot as it happens and botch the rebirth process.
Clearly, good karma shall win the day over time, but the rebirth may not prove as auspicious -at least in the beginning- if one dies a poorly managed death.
I personally listen daily to Tibetan sacred chants created to prepare one for death, like the PHOWA

there are also a bazillion videos online, books etc that impart teachings targeting the moment of death


Alejandro Cardeinte's picture

"if one dies a poorly managed death"

Thanks a lot Sir Sergio for sharing your thoughts and also the links. Anyway, my mind is trying to grasp the thing you mentioned, "if one dies a poorly managed death." When our love one died, the usual scenario is that there is what we call "grieving process." Does this grieving or sadness do not fall into "poorly managed death"? I'm just wondering.


first of all, it is opportune to differentiate between the person who is actually dying, who needs to pay attention, and the bystander who may be grieving but whose life is not ending. Most traditions suggest avoiding displays of grief and despair around the dying person, or even the corpse, for that may affect rebirth somewhat negatively by not letting the deceased go properly.
The Tibetan tradition preaches that by listening to particular mantras -which I have suggested- one may somewhat alter the "subtle consciousness" that may come handy at the time of death.
I can personally attest that to be somewhat true: by reciting NAMO AMITUOFO, I see that it comes spontaneous to me in time of crisis even without conscious efforts.
Tradition says that if one has NAMO AMITUOFO in mind (an actual recitation or otherwise) at the time of death (interpretations vary between the Chinese and Japanese Pure Land schools), Amida Buddha shall grant one rebirth in the pure land, a celestial purgatory where to practice in order to attain liberation.

Other useful sources of teachings on death&dying you may find online:

Sogyal (Rinpoche), 1994, The Tibetan Book Of Living And Dying, audio recordings, Audio Literature.
Sogyal (Rinpoche), 2005, Tibetan Wisdom For Living And Dying, audio recordings, Sounds True.


Alejandro Cardeinte's picture

inevitable part of life

Thank for your thought Sir Sergio. I really appreciate it. While reading what you shared that "most traditions suggest avoiding displays of grief and despair around the dying person." My mind was entertaining the thought why it's so hard for many to accept the loss of a loved one even though we are taught that death is an inevitable part of life and that it is just the end of the body, not the end of life.

Wong Fook Ming's picture

Grieving Process

Grieving process is the expression of our inner emotion of losing. If we cultivate more loving kindness meditation and insight meditation, the grieving process will not affect us negatively that lead to depression, the loving kindness will take over. Then our life will move on.

Alejandro Cardeinte's picture

Grieving process

Thank you so much sir Wong Fook for your insight and for pointing out meditation to help increase a positive mood and to manage grief.It is very important as many people grieving might have difficulty concentrating and will no longer enjoy their usual activities which may lead to drinking alcohol, drug abuse, or suicidal thoughts, thinking they can no longer go on with their life.