Men, grieving and sorrow
Men, you are probably looking for step one.
You are probably looking for an instructional manual, for blueprints for your grief, as though it were as easy a step-by-step process as building a birdhouse.
Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Mourning is not a task to get done or a race to finish.
Men, often called the silent grievers, sometimes grieve their entire lives because they cannot let out their grief as it comes. It's almost as if they have a barrel to drain, but they only let the water out a drop at a time.
The elements of grieving, including sorrow, crying and the expression of emotion, seem to go against many of the typical traits we think of as being masculine, such as strength, pride and toughness. This is just one of the reasons men find it difficult to mourn.
Grief is not a task to be solved, a repair that can be made
Bereavement can toss anyone's life into a whirlwind of emotions that make them feel lost. It's simply easier for women to ask for directions.
Male grievers are less likely to talk about the death, cry in front of others, or seek support. This may make it seem like men have an easier time getting over death, when in reality they're most likely just more apt to hide their grief.
Grief expert Carol Staudacher says men have five coping styles:
- Secret or solitary grief
- Taking action, such as physical and legal repercussions
- Immersion into another activity, such as work
- Falling into addictive behavior
Though men try to hide their grief, it may come out in other ways, such as aggression or irritability. This may push others away, but men, like women, need support as they grieve.
Men often find it easier to express their grief in the presence of other men. It may be a good idea to seek out a male grief support group.
Overall, don't expect yourself to go through the stages of grief you've heard about, as if they're the steps of a recipe. More and more, psychologists are discovering that dealing with loss is an individual process that cannot be categorized so simply.
Men can help themselves deal with grief by:
- Having the courage to open up in front of others, even if it's just one trusted person.
- Explaining the need to be alone at times.
- Continuing to communicate, even if you may not want to talk about everything.
- Maintaining relationships with loved ones.
- Making the time to grieve without some activity, such as work.
- Keeping yourself healthy with exercise when you can manage it, a good diet and enough sleep.
Death of a wife: enduring a loss can be especially difficult for a man who has become a widower. Besides going through the feelings of grief, he also has to deal with the sometimes foreign tasks of childrearing, chores and housekeeping. He may also have to learn to be the family chauffeur and the social director.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by these tasks, it's important to reach out to a community of adults, especially female friends, for help. Over time it will get easier, but it's important to reach out to your personal community for support in the beginning. If you feel like you don't want to 'burden' your friends and would be happier speaking to people you don't know, then visit our bereavement forum to share your sorrow.
You could also visit the Men and grief section of our bookstore to look for further resources to help you cope.
Further sources of information
You may find our other articles in the Coping with your own grief section helpful too.
Visit our Amazon store to find books to help you through bereavement.