Men and grieving

Men don’t grieve, or do they? Men who grieve are something that is rarely seen in today’s society. This past year my grandfather, Lynn Osborne, passed away and I suffered a great loss. This man was my grandfather, my father, and my true best friend. Throughout my life, he taught me many things and without him I thought I could not go on living. In my eyes, there was no point in being here. I would rather it have been me so that way I could still see him.
This was a very difficult time for me and it still is, but I am not alone. Many men have the same problem dealing with the loss of a loved one, but we have a strange way of showing it. We have a certain finitude when it comes to showing our emotions. Men do grieve, but in a different way than women. They just “bottle-up” their feelings and do not express their pain.

As young boys, they were told, “big boys don’t cry.” That is what they live by, never showing emotion. When the time comes for men to show their emotions, they either do not know how or let it build up inside us. This leads to alcoholism, other addictions, and early death. When a loved one dies that is close to a certain man, he begins to act strange; doing things out of the norm. Although different men respond in different ways, they all have the same symptoms. For example, “I suffered, I grieved, I broke down, and I cooked fabulous meals for those who came to comfort me” (Anderson 203). This shows that he suffered and grieved but did not show it in the common way. He expresses his pain through cooking for the ones that came to mourn with him. Another example, “There is one place her absence come locally home to me, and it is a place I can’t avoid. I mean my own body…Now its like an empty house…I know the thing I want is exactly the thing I can never get” (Lewis 23). This shows a man’s love for his wife, but he doesn’t share with his buddies, he writes his loss in a book, this is how he expresses his loss. These are two ways two different men cope with death.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Patton 113). Men are expected to be the stronger one in a time of grieving. Women are more vulnerable in times of death, but men try not to be. Men try not to be vulnerable because they fell it lessens their masculinity. Men feel that showing their feelings is a sign of weakness, therefore the try to act more “manly” by not shedding tears. Men do not want to look like “less of a man” or feel “inferior,” so they cover up what they are feeling only to let out small bits and pieces. What men don’t see, this is their death pill. By “bottling-it-up” inside they die away slowly but fade faster than they should. It does not weaken a man to be more of a man, but it weakens them to hold what should be out…in.

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In the book Pastoral Care Emergencies by David K. Switzer, Switzer introduces a person whom he calls Parkes. Parkes developed stages of grieving so that it may help determine where a man is at during his grieving process. The first stage is numbness and denial. This is a stage of shock, numb, and acting like the loss hasn’t happened. Stage two is yearning. One often tries to bring the person back in this stage or consider them to still be alive. In stage three, Disorganization, the symptoms in stage two are fading away and one might have the “no future” feelings. And the final stage reorganization of behavior. As the feelings of grief fade, one has a better outlook on life or the future. A man might not feel some or all of these stages, but it is a great look at how people in general grieve (Switzer 102)
Men show their feeling in ways different than women. This does not mean that they do not grieve. Men do grieve. My pain was anger against nature and the fact that everyone eventually will die. I did not want nature to take away my “Paw.” That was my outlet for grieving. Yes, I reacted differently than most grown men, I cried. Knowing that I was not supposed to cry, I tried to hold it in but could not. Most men have a problem doing this; they are the ones that are supposed to be strong. The women are supposed to be overwhelmed with their emotions. There is nothing wrong with showing how you truly feel, in the long run it will help you out. By building up all this anger or hiding their feelings, men are the ones killing themselves. Yes, alcohol might be the cause, but they are the ones putting it in them. I feel that men should not care what others think and do what is right for them. It does not make you less of a man to cry, lessens a man when he does not.

Lewis, C.S. A Grief Observed. New York: The Seabury
Neuger, Christie, and James Newton Poling, eds. The Care
Of Men. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997.

Patton, John. Pastoral Care in Context. Kentucky:
Switzer, David K. Pastoral Care Emergencies. Minneapolis:
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