A common theme throughout the majority of ‘men versus women’ writings is that of extreme contrast; trying to paint a picture of men and women being as different from one another as possible. Although that lends itself to an exciting read, the honest reality of most of those discussions is that men and women are in fact much more similar than they are different; despite some stark differentiations, there is much more common ground.
The same applies for men and women in regards to how they grieve after a death or serious loss. Yes, there are notable patterns that vary, but in general they all follow the same fundamental path towards coping and peace. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a world-renowned psychological researcher from the late 60’s explains that underlying coping phenomenon as the Five Stages of Grief that both women and men follow.
Now that we’ve covered the overlap between genders, and how more is common-shared than not, it’s time to discuss the prominent differences between how men and women typically grieve. An important note is that when we talk about men versus women, we’re really talking about the masculine style of grieving versus the feminine style of grieving. Within that spectrum of grieving, there is immense variety, with many women utilizing a more masculine approach, and many men finding a style often relating femininely to be more natural. Neither is wrong…no two people grieve the same.
1. Women often rely on interaction with others, or groups, to grieve, while men typically grieve in private
When grieving of any kind is stereotypically represented, it is often understood to involve a group of people surrounding a woeful, sorrowful mourner, offering comfort and solace in the form of encouraging words and physical support. However, this representation heavily favors the feminine approach to grieving. Although many certainly grieve in this way, a similar ratio of people find their solace in isolation, alone with their struggle.
2. Men utilize resolve and taking action as a means to cope, while women usually find emoting to be more beneficial
Another seemingly standard method of coping is crying and sobbing. This certainly occurs at some point in most women and men. With that said, the masculine style of grief actually lends itself to action as way to ‘move through’ their pain. This can be commonly in men who, after experiencing an unusually painful loss or experience, find strength and motivation in turning a new leaf in their lives.
3. Women typically grieve verbally through the use of speech, while men tend to cognitively sort and cope internally
Of the three differences, this one is often the more difficult to be noticed. Most individuals readily see that women use group-grieving more, while men self-soothe, and likewise with women crying versus men taking action. However, it is important to realize this third difference, that women often need to ‘talk it out’, while men often don’t.
This causes frustration and misunderstanding between members of opposite genders, but it is important to remember that in all of this, how one grieves needs to be determined exclusively by the one who is grieving and now one else. Be respectful and understanding that no two people are the same in how they heal from hard times.
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Written by Clif, a freelance writer for SereniCare, a full-service funeral home in Phoenix, Arizona.