Men and Grief

Men and Grief

By Pattie Slagle


Early on we are taught that “big boys don’t cry.” Men often feel that crying, for any reason, is a sign of weakness and to be avoided, at least in public.  So what’s a man to do when he’s suffered a loss and is grieving?


Fact:  Grief is an unavoidable part of living that each of us will experience and is a process we will have to move through.  Through grief, and mourning, we work through feelings of loss, reconcile ourselves to the loss, and rebuild our lives without the physical presence of the person or object of our loss. 


Fact:  Each grief journey is unique. There is no standard process or timetable.    People experiencing the loss of the same loved one, don’t necessarily experience and work through the loss in the same way in the same length of time. 


Fact:  One must go through the grief and mourning process to heal.  Trying to ignore grief can lead to physical illness, anger, bitterness, addiction, and/or a lack of joy in life.   You can delay it but you can’t avoid it.


There are some general differences in how men and women grieve.  Cultural expectations often discourage men from grieving outwardly.  Also, differences in how men and women see and experience life make for differences in how each gender processes grief.  In general, one tends to grieve as they live…if a man is stoic, he will be stoic in his grief.  If he shows his emotions freely, he will likely tear up in public and be able to express his grief outwardly.


Men tend to be less outwardly emotional; preferring to grieve alone seeking quiet and solitude.  Men tend to think and act their way through grief instead of crying and talking, as women do.  Men may engage in activities such as taking care of the family, hobbies, or work to allow the physical and emotional release in place of crying.  Whether done quietly and independently or more verbally and shared, the crucial thing is to work through grief. 


If you are a man experiencing grief, allow yourself to grieve as you need to.  Find a place and/or trusted friend, mentor, clergy, or grief support group, where you can be comfortable (as one can be) expressing your grief.  Remember that grieving is a normal part of life and not a sign of weakness.  Also remember that avoiding working through it may lead to physical illness and other problems.  See your doctor if you feel too overwhelmed for too long. 


If you know a man who has experienced a loss, don’t be judgmental.  Let him express and process his grief in his own way; whether he needs to cry or needs some "alone time” with a hobby or activity to work through his grief.  Be there for him.   


If  a couple experienced the loss, don’t assume the other didn’t care enough about the deceased because they don’t seem as upset as you or aren’t grieving in the same way and time.  A wife may want to talk about the deceased while the husband may not.  This is true of families experiencing a loss as well.  One family member may want to skip or modify an activity (like family vacations, reunions or holiday celebrations) that reminds them too painfully of the deceased, while another sees it as important to remembering the deceased.  Communicate with each other and understand each other rather than building resentments or problems in your relationships.  Be patient and understanding while each of you reconcile to the loss and find a “new normal”. 


For more information, or to join a grief support group contact, Damon McCoy, Bereavement Coordinator for Coastal Home Health and Hospice at 541-247-7084, 541-469-0405, or 541-332-0273.




Reprinted by permission by Pattie Slagle on 02/01/2012

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