The loss of a loved one in our life can be crippling and can leave deep scars; it changes who we are, how we look at life and how we relate with the world. Five or six years out is still early grief but at a point where positive rebuilding can begin.
In the first few years we mechanically maintain, weep a lot and lick our wounds while clinging desperately to everything of our loved one and may in secret wish to join them. We rejoin the real world at our own time and it happens when it right for us. Every ones journey is different, but what remains the same is the huge void that is left in our lives.
In today’s society it is especially difficult for men to grieve openly, caught in a catch 22 of how to express the deep pain they are experiencing but yet not show weakness. Men don’t cry, men do not emote, men do not hug (maybe at the funeral) men don’t go to support groups, men don’t call in sick because they are screaming inside, we are the man of the family. Fathers are viewed as the fix it guys, the protector, the strength and the rock the family needs for support. More times than not people will ask a bereaved father “how is your wife doing? This must be hard extremely for her”. I understand their compassion and intent but cannot help feeling marginalized.
Today fortunately men are now given (mostly by women and therapists) license to show emotions, to cry, scream, hug and express their deepest emotions and fears, to let it out. The irony of this is if he does emote and the family has never seen this behavior, it can be taken as a sign of weakness and the spouse and other family members may feel they have lost their safety net, their rock of support, and feel even more helpless and rudderless on an already difficult journey. If this happens a man may again ‘clam up’ to help with his family and deal with his own pain later. He finds that ‘letting it out’ is an axiom of sophistry and in doing so he feels he is letting his family down. Indeed a paradox for the want to be sensitive Man.
Most men cry alone in their cars on the way to work and they explain that the red eyes are due to allergies or a late night. When my father died when I was age 14, my Mom told me I was the man of the family now, I did not cry, I did not grieve. It was not until years later and my losses became overwhelming did I finally let it out and express my emotions for the loss of my father.
It has been 26 years now since my son Kelly died and I still cry with my wife when we feel our loss together or even when I hear a special song on the radio and I do not care who is present; you love hard you grieve hard and it is supposed to hurt. When you recognize your own pain and express it, you automatically become more empathetic to others in similar pain and can help relieve theirs and doing so relieve your own..
People will often tell us to find closure, to move on, or put it behind us; forgive them they know not what they do. We may find resolution to our pain but we never have closure of someone we love.. We don’t move on, we move with; we don’t put it behind us we walk with it. Our loved ones are forever by our side, only in a new relationship. We live in one sphere of existence, they in another, but with faith, undying love and the desire we can connect at the seam where our two worlds meet. They become our rock.
In America we are allowed a few weeks to “get over it” and get back on track. I find this totally unacceptable; it has been 26 years and I still talk about my son everyday and always will. If you are a man in grief you can be strong and still weep all night long. Regardless of gender we are human, we feel, we hurt, we need comfort, we need to express our pain, we need hugs, allow them and give them. There is no shame in grief and honest emotions, it happens on a chemical level for men and women. Grieving outwardly helps return or brain chemistry back to equilibrium.
We will always be bereaved but we will not always be experiencing the pangs of grief. Like arthritis we learn to live with it the rest of our lives, we will have flare ups of pain and discomfort as we move forward through the years, but good days will come as well. Grief is hard work but finding joy again is our birthright and worth the effort, so keep on keeping on.
One thought on “Men in Grief, a Paradox for Today’s Male”
Way to go to the author (Mitch?) Hooraw keep up the good work. I was telling my mom about a story I heard from the bible about John the Baptist. And how the kings mother used their daughter in full bloom to go to the king.
He offered her half his kindom. She told her mom and said no, tell him you want the head of John. There was music drinking many wealthy people, and lights, upon her return for the request. Knowing he was a man of God and has done nothing to deserve this the King in awe of his beautiful daughter said, fetch me his head on a silver platter.
Angles had ministered to John saying that following truth, Jesus spreading the word would attract even more hardships than ever. So he was prepared in a way. So when the blade came for him, there was no crying out or pleading for mercy, for he knew his time on earth was but only a hair in the light of eternity. Now when his head was delivered to the king, the music stopped, it sank in that they had gone too far. But had it not been for his death, the impact of his work would not have had the importance that it did in helping others to realize the Roman injustice. And actually facilitated more people to the true word of God. In his Own way he knew his sacrifice would help so many. And when the angels asked to see your life from being to end he still accepted. Now with Mitch for instance or Allen Peterson, there precious lost one’s came to this place knowing there whole life’s path and chose it, as did you guy’s. Simply put, had tragedy not broken you out of the day to day robotasism of this life, you would not have been able to touch and help so many in need that may have never received such help. In a way your loved ones were like John in this case. Giving up of them selves in order to make the future of so much many more, that much better. Thank you Mitch and Allen for all you do, and the people you have become. And know that your loved ones knew before they were born there purposes in this life. And that they are truly God’s Angles…