Help & SUPPORT
WHY MEN GRIEVE DIFFERENTLY THAN WOMEN.
When our baby boy past away from SIDS, I felt my world fell apart. At the start, my wife and I went to see a bereavement counsellor but I always felt that something was not quite right. In the initial stages our needs was similar but it soon came very apparent that men and woman grieve in very different ways. The current scientific research on the brain, backs-up this and indicates that men are functionally different. These distinctions account for many differences between how the sexes process information and their feelings, this includes coping with loss and learning to grieve. Both sexes feel the same pain and experience the same grief, but they're more than likely to process and show it in very different ways.
I’m no scientist or any sort of social psychologist, just an observer of life, but I have notice that many of the society’s stereotypes of how a grieving parent should act are based on the way women grieve, this is not being sexist, it is just how it is.
There isn’t a proper way to grieve or even the ‘one size fits all’ approach to dealing with your feelings, in fact your grief will be influenced by how you were raise and your life experiences, in short who you are. You may find that it will feel totally alien to talk about your feelings to others or prefer to bury your feelings rather than emit that you are human. While society may be changing, the lingering mentality that ‘big boys don’t cry’ leads many men to try to avoid the grief process all together. They may fear that showing their grief will make them look weak. There are many pitfalls and negative consequences from this course of action, these include clamming up and becoming a social misfit. even if it’s just in your own eyes, you may become secretive and standoffish to a partner, or even become angry at themselves or others, addiction or even self harm and suicide, these may not be typical of all men but are concerning.
Bottling up your feelings because your a man maybe down to social conditioning and it is more than likely that friends and family will acknowledge a mothers loss while expecting a father to take on the role of custodian, this would reinforce the sense that you should control your emotions and become the stronger person. By excepting this, you except that, men can’t feel the loss or are able to grieve. We have been dealt this role and while society has shaped how others think.
It is quite common for a father after facing the life altering and monumental trauma that losing a child brings, to assume a tough exterior, delaying their own grieving process in efforts to protect their wife or partner. This could also have a very negative repercussions in both health and emotional wellbeing but all is not lost, men who have learnt to open up and share their grief seem to have many benefits to their emotional and physical health, as well as for their relationships and marriage.
The secret is finding a way to conquer and controlling their grief, this could be finding a a close friend to talk to, finding a support group to work through the many issues amongst others who shares many of the same circumstances. Some bereaved fathers find the arts very therapeutic, so releasing your feeling in paint, print or even photographs can help. This may seem foreign to you but women have been using this technique since the darn of time, and it works.
I am looking at setting up, in collaboration with a bereavement charity, a mens support group in my area, our main aim being, to provide an outlet where men can come to terms with their own vulnerability and learn to cope with their wide range of emotions. I am still researching the best possible way to provide a safe haven in which they can speak openly about their losses as well as their everyday lives while building friendships in a relaxed, nonjudgemental and unassuming atmosphere.