When You’re a Man Who’s Grieving
No one has ever suffered the very same loss you have. If someone else’s partner or child or parent has died, just as yours has, that loss is not the same as yours. Even if two of you are mourning the death of the same family member, you each have had your own history and relationship with that person, your own memories to recall and your own issues to work through. Similarly, no one else’s divorce or job loss or physical disability could ever be mistaken for yours.
Just as your loss is original, you are original too. No one has ever had your same experiences, your same make-up, your same hopes and dreams. Nor has anyone ever had your exact assortment of strengths and abilities. Those unique traits of yours can give you an edge in facing what lies before you. In a time that seems uncertain, you will do well to fall back upon what you know with certainty. Your strengths have served you well before. Let them serve you well now by helping you consciously connect with your pain a piece at a time as you slowly whittle away at your grief.
Do you like being active? Then move around, use your body, tackle a project, help out others. One man found a path to grieve his brother’s suicide by training hard for a tennis tournament each of them had wanted to win. Every time he practiced, he was with both his brother and his pain. He found a way to connect his action with his grief and, yes, after three years of staying at it, he won the tournament.
Are you good with your mind? Then use it. Think your way through what's happening, what you want to do. Come up with goals that are clear and plans that are workable. One man who lost his job through corporate downsizing started by reading all he could about how to deal with major life transitions. Then he enrolled in a course on the subject. Next thing he knew, he was helping others with his knowledge. Today that's become his business.
Are you a people person? Then place yourself among those with whom you can talk and listen, and find ways you can share in other ways too. A man whose wife died after forty years of marriage became a volunteer in the hospital where she had been cared for. Another man chose to visit new patients in a rehabilitation center after he became a paraplegic in an auto accident. Each was using his activity to connect with and work through his grief.
Are you best at doing things with your hands? Then do more things with your hands and use that experience to reflect upon what has happened to you. A widower who was a woodworker used his skills to create blocks and toys for the nursery school where his wife had taught. Each time he gave his creations away, he explained why he had chosen to do what he did. And each time he tapped into his grief a little more.
Are you a quiet one? Then write rather than talk if that feels right. Or take slow walks. Or listen to soothing music. Or just sit in silence and reflect. Are you expressive emotionally? Then cry or laugh, rant or rave, show your astonishment or display your love. Are you precise by nature? Then try keeping track of your grief with a daily record of what is happening inside, including the progress you make. Are you impulsive? Then improvise as you go along. Down-to-earth? Then do what seems most practical.
In the various ways that seem right for you, call upon your God-given strengths to lead you into and through your time of grief. Tap into your pain by using those skills that seem most natural to you. Remember that each time you do that, you move yourself that much closer to your healing.
This writing is taken from When a Man Faces Grief: 12 Practical Ideas to Help You Heal from Loss by James E. Miller and Thomas R. Golden. You can learn more about this book, as well as other Willowgreen resources about loss and grief, here.