Helping A Man Who Is Grieving

It can be hard to know what to do when someone you know, particular when that someone is a man, is grieving. The process of grieving is often associated with the loss of a loved one, but grief actually encompasses a lot more than that.

“Grief comes as a result of any change that requires a person to give up or let go of what they have enjoyed or loved or found meaningful. The more disruptive that change and the larger the sense of loss they feel, the greater the grief they’re likely to experience…”    –James Miller and Thomas Golden.

When someone close to you dies, there is a tangible absence, a void even. It is easy to see that a person needs to grieve the death of a loved one. However, many find themselves having to navigate this difficult phenomenon when a divorce occurs, when one is fired from a job, removing a tattoo in Laguna Beach when one moves to a new home or area, or even a retirement or debilitating injury or illness. All of these scenarios, and certainly others, constitute a profound loss that must be coped with.

Society as a whole is very accommodating and accustomed to the feminine style of grieving, characterized by emoting and crying, relying heavily on the presence of others, and ‘talking it out’. However, the masculine side of grieving is more private, more quiet, and less understood. Those who grieve in this fashion (often more men than women, but there are certainly men who grieve on a more feminine spectrum, and vice versa) typically find themselves:

  • Preferring the solace of time spent alone
  • Are more cognitive than emotional in their approach
  • Utilize taking action as a way of ‘moving through the grief’

Understanding that difference is the first step towards helping a man grieve. Take the time to observe, and perceive where on the spectrum of masculine versus feminine grieving this particular man lies. No two men are the same, and therefore will not grieve the same, so don’t expect them to.

Secondly, a man needs to understand that it is safe for him to grieve with you, but not feel like he has to or ‘ought to’. Very few men will go the entire process without talking about the loss, finding themselves crying about it, or needed someone to be present with them, so be prepared to receive him in his sadness, but don’t expect it or assume no progress is being made unless you see it.

On a final note, because men are wired a little differently than women, try to serve them in a way they’ll respond to. Buying a woman flowers when a family member passes might mean the world to her, but the majority of men are likely to not find as much meaning in such a gesture. Be personal and specific to the man; if he feels loved by someone doing something for him, then do so. If he responds to verbal encouragement, give it freely. Whatever it is, serve the man who is grieving in a way that means something to that man specifically.

Written by Clif, a freelance writer for SereniCare Funeral Homes AZ, a full-service funeral home in the Phoenix area.

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