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Men and Grief
Men grieve differently from women. Our cultural roles make it difficult for men to look for support, and harder again to accept it. Men are so often silent, solitary mourners who immerse themselves in activity and private, symbolic rituals. They feel profoundly, but often can't express the depth of their loss.
A man is supposed to be "strong," to support, to cope, and to plan in the aftermath of loss. His own pain must be put away.
Grief doesn't discriminate between gender or culture. Our society has placed clear expectations and requirements upon our roles as men and women. Boys learn quickly what behaviour is considered inappropriate through such statements as, "Stand up and take it like a man." "You're the man of the house," and the insidiously cruel "Big boys don't cry."
Male grief tends to have four main characteristics.
1. Moderated feelings
2. Cognitive Experience
3. Problem-Focussed Activity
4. Desire for Solitude
Societal Demands on Men
· remain emotionally and physically strong
These generalisations continue to hold their power over men in pain. Let's take the old myth about crying. The truth is it takes a truly strong man to be able to cry. Acknowledging that each of us grieve in very different ways can allow men to cope with loss and pain using their own various coping methods. We all grieve despite our gender, race or culture. We grieve because we have loved and, through our journey, we can be healed.
Tears are a gift
The realisation that grief can be a constructive, healing process, which can be shared with others, can inspire us all to be intentional in our grief process.
Susanna Duffy is a Civil Celebrant, mythologist and grief counsellor. She is a creator and guide of Rites of Passage for personal ceremonies and civic functions. Website: http://celebrant.yarralink.com
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