Wednesday, June 24, 2015

From a Man's Perspective

This month we were blessed to hear from a man who has walked this grief journey. So often, women come to our monthly gatherings and wonder why husbands grieve so differently - or if they are even grieving at all! It was great to hear about the male perspective from someone who has experienced loss firsthand. Of course, we acknowledge that just as women grieve uniquely, each woman somewhat different than the next, all men will grieve uniquely. Still, it can be helpful to become familiar with some generalizations.

Men want to fix things, including the sadness that a wife feels during a loss. They know they can't fix it, but they still try. And when it doesn't work, they often turn to something else, like a job or hobby, where they can experience success at fixing something. While women often want to talk about what they're feeling or experiencing, often times men simply don't want to.  It can be helpful to take men at their word when they say they're doing just fine. The best we can do is be sure the man knows he has space and freedom to talk if/when he wants to. Not talking does not indicate not caring/feeling/grieving.

Our guest indicated that Father's Day, from the perspective of a loss, is not as hard for most men as Mother's Day is for most women. Rather than going crazy trying to create a meaningful Father's Day, perhaps asking the man what he'd enjoy doing, or if he feels it's important to acknowledge the day at all, would alleviate some of the stress and pressure women often feel as the "holiday" draws near.

Men want their wives to be happy. In general, men are supportive of things that make the wife happy, whether it is time with friends, pursuing an interest or hobby, or eating out.

Our guest helped us understand that many men do not bond with the baby very much until the baby is born. That is hard for most women to understand, as they often have a strong emotional attachment during pregnancy. This could explain, in part, why there is often such a discrepancy between the way women grieve after a loss and the way men grieve.

The bottom line was to keep lines of communication open, remember what the spouse was like in terms of emotional sharing before the loss, pursue healthy "happy" activities, and continue investing in the relationship.