Men Grieve Too
Grief is not gender-specific, but typically how men and women are affected by and respond to grief is. There’s research that argues men tend to have greater mood swings than women (who would have thought?) and also more physical and health-related issues while grieving. However, men may show/have typical grief symptoms; crying, hopelessness and depression, they are less likely to show them- because, how manly is that?!
- Anger/Irritability – Sometimes anger can be directed at whatever (or whomever) the man deems at fault, or at nothing at all. Can be grumpy all the time, and even if ‘grumpiness’ is normal (before grief) behavior, grief can intensify it.
- Self-medication – The abuse of substances (alcohol and drugs) and/or unhealthy behaviors and activities. This will not bring about healing and can cause other problems relationally and health-wise. If you find yourself struggling in this area, I implore you to seek help.
- Withdrawal/Isolation – Because men are considered resilient grievers, the uncontrolled need to outwardly show grief may drive them to isolation and push them into their “caves”, to withdraw emotionally from family and friends and/or FEEL numb (Yes, numb is a feeling).
- Guilt – Protector, provider, these are “man traits”. Grief violates these and many others. The inability to fix death can cause men to take on the unrealistic role of responsibility. Loss of perceived control can cause guilt. This is hard to shake, due to the need for answers and there is little relief even when coming to the realization that there are just some answers we will not get on this side of eternity.
Unfortunately, what tends to happen is men are accused of not grieving enough because they are not emoting grief like their female counterparts. This is not to defend or deflect, but men are typically considered resilient grievers, causing them to internally with less outward emotion. This “not grieving enough or the right way” belief can cause anxiety in all parties involved and it needs to be understood that we all grieve differently; men and women and from man to man, grief is personal and custom made for each person. Those seeking to care for grieving men need to be willing to allow them to grieve in their own way, as long as it’s healthy, its ok. And remember, we all will grieve within our personality, if the man in your life is the “strong, quiet type”, he’s likely to grieve that way…
Men, I’m not letting you off the hook. You have a responsibility to talk about your grief to your loved ones, it helps in your healing- and theirs. Them knowing you’re hurting, but trying to heal in a healthy way, goes a long way into their healing and understanding how you are grieving.
Have you experienced any of these symptoms? Are there others you can think of? Let’s talk about them.