All too often, when there is a loss in the family, it is the women who are more open and vocal about their emotions related the death. Because of centuries of tradition and a little bit of natural programming, men tend to grieve internally and will seem much more stoic during the time preceding and after the funeral. But just because they aren’t expressing their sadness as openly as their female counterparts does not mean that they are any less devastated by the loss of a loved one. Use these tips to help your father, husband, brother, or any other male loved one in your life, mourn their loss and begin the healing process.
Don’t push for emotional responses. Men internalize their emotions for many situations. Mostly because they are “programmed” to problem solve in their head before they vocalize their issues. Pushing a male member of your family to be as open with their feelings as the women will only serve to frustrate him, rather than do productive good. They are processing some intense emotions and may not quite express them to others in a way that can be understood. Let them work through some of their emotions in their head before they start talking to others about the way they feel.
Let them “do” rather than “express.” Since men are typically uncomfortable with emotions, they tend to prefer to do things to cope with loss, rather than express their feelings vocally. When a male family member talks about a project or activity that you believe is related to coping or mourning the loss of their loved one, encourage it. This can be anything from creating a memorial for their loved one or beginning a new hobby to attempt to move on.
Encourage attending an all-male support group. It may seem counterintuitive to everything we’ve stated so far, but men do need an outlet to talk about the loss they’ve experienced in their life. Talking about this in a group that is solely men will make them feel more comfortable knowing that many of these men are experiencing the same emotions and trying to figure out what to do with them.
Of course, every person is unique and we all grieve differently. We don’t want to lump every man on the planet into one category; you may have a man that grieves openly and expresses themselves fully. These tips are general tips to help when you have a male in the family that is obviously grieving, but is not openly expressing their grief.