Hi folks! ScarredJoy mentioned in a previous post how often a dad’s grief may be overlooked. The context of the post was a reflection on a young couple who were looking forward to the birth of their baby. The mother suffered a “miscarriage” and their dreams of a life with the baby ended.
I would like to offer you some thoughts on grief from a man’s perspective. Certainly what I post here may not be so with all men as there are exceptions. I am saying that men are indeed in some respects different from women in the expression of grief and perhaps how they experience grief. Here goes.
Men’s Grief. This is how it seems to me: Grief is like a cover over the heart. It wants to cover one’s heart from the light that would show the way into one’s changed life. Due to the cause of the grief life has changed for ever. It is a search for meaning and questions of seeking. At times it is a painful reflection of one’s perceived role as a man, as a dad, as a son, as a husband, as a son in law, etc. To cry may mean I am not being strong for my family. I am letting them down. The grief has covered the guy’s heart and this being the case, it is a time of darkness, the light has been blocked out and he may think, “I don’t know where to go” “I don’t know what to do” “I don’t know how I’m supposed to be”.
I will probably say a few more things as time goes on but let me just say something else at this time. Here’s where it might get a bit messy and confusing for men when it comes to grief. Caring women in their lives may have to approach the man similar to how they would approach a young fella or a boy. This is not to belittle a man or minimize his pain. I see it as a process of caring rather than a one or two step act.
Please recognize ladies that many men were informed as boys that they are not supposed to show emotions that make you seem weak. To some crying is an ultimate sign of weakness, of not being in control if one follows this direction. The guy, perhaps your son, husband, brother etc. needs to be shown that you actually care about his emotions including those covered by grief. Grief can be lonely. It wants to isolate the man from true feelings that allow him to express his grief. It will “leak out” in some way, however. Someone who is safe, who may come alongside him, who doesn’t lecture, or give advice, is a gift. Providing a safe place, including trust, may help uncover what grief has smothered. Perhaps the tears may flow (his, your own, both of you). Perhaps then a story will unfold. The guy is trying to be present in his grief, to just be. Men are often ‘doers” when it comes to grief but I can say something about that another time. we men may actually have to be given permission, so to speak, to be authentic with how much this grief hurts so deeply.
Next time: grieving the death of a child.