Men and Grief - Do They Grieve Differently? 

Men and grief can be such a taboo subject in our society that some women even ask me "Do men grieve?"   Male grief can be so hidden that it is rarely seen.  

In fact men feel grief as much as anyone, but they are expected to be strong in our society.  They are ashamed of showing weakness, and are not as used to showing feelings as women. 

So, many men bury their feelings.  They develop ways of avoiding feeling, such as working too hard, playing too hard, exercising too much or drinking alcohol. 

  • Women are often frustrated that men don't want to talk about their grief, or that they are not more supportive to women in their grief. 
  • Men on the other hand, would sometimes prefer it if women helped them to ignore their painful feelings.

But men, just as much as women, feel relief when they do give in to their feelings and have a good cry.  It can be much more difficult for men to do this than women, and it might take much longer after a bereavement for them to start to cry and express their emotions. 

Meme - strong men do cry on dark moody seascape.

The importance of expressing grief emotions for men

Unexpressed grief might be manifested in various ways.  Health might suffer.  Men might find it more difficult to sleep, or to concentrate at work.  They may feel more stressed and short tempered.  Some might drink more alcohol or smoke more cigarettes, especially after the loss of a father who drank too much. 

Many men are shocked when they realise just how much the death of a parent affects them, even if they didn't have a good relationship. 

The death of a difficult parent can bring to the surface unresolved resentments and sorrow that the relationship can now never be healed.  There may be guilt that more effort wasn't made.  Or just regret that the words “I love you” or “I'm proud of you” will now never be heard.  

Grief can often cause marital problems

Marital problems are common after a bereavement or a loss.  Perhaps one partner is more affected than the other, and they might change in some way.  Many people view life differently after a major life crisis.  It brings home thought of their own mortality and brings into focus their goals and what they want in life.  If this isn't in line with the desires and aims of the partner, this can cause conflict. 

Do men handle grief differently from women? 

There is also the difference in the ways men and women cope with grief.  If the man is not showing much emotion, or trying to be strong for their partner, this might be interpreted as being unfeeling or not caring.  It's a fine line to draw. 

It is important to communicate, to express feelings, and to be open. 

Men often don't get as much support from friends, family and society in general.  People don't expect them to be grieving as much as women.  So we are often surprised when they do show emotion.  Men get mixed messages about how they are expected to handle grief so often are not sure whether they can express their emotions or are afraid to do so.  

We need to give the message to men, that it is OK for them to show emotion, that strong men do cry.

Since I wrote this article, my son has written a moving account of how he came to terms with the loss of his father over a period of about 3 years. 

The article in the link below acknowledges the grief felt by a man after his partner's miscarriage, but is entitled "Women's Silent Suffering" which is an indication of the fact that society do not expect men to grieve in the same way as women.  The comments following the article are an interesting discussion about the effect on men of a miscarriage and the fact that many men feel it is unfair that their grief is unacknowledged. 

Women's Silent Suffering

There are many pages dealing with grief on this site which are there to help men as much as women.  Don't be afraid to seek help, talk about your feelings and acknowledge that you are grieving.  

MORE Related Pages: 

Books on Grief

Coping with Divorce and Helping the Children Through the Separation

Coping with Miscarriage

> > Men and Grief


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Memorial Magnolia Tree

The Magnolia is one of the earth's oldest plants, with a spectacular flower which dates back 95 million years.  What a beautiful specimen to commemorate a life. 

These trees are grown by the foremost magnolia nursery in the country and they will send a variety most suited to the recipient's climate. 

The flowers in spring will bring joy to the bereaved and help to heal their heart.


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