Grief is a very personal journey, each of us processes loss differently, and there seems to be a great divide in the way women and men grieve.
I had a 92 year old patient on hospice whose daughter and primary caregiver had lost an adult son to brain cancer. The loss of a child is devastating no matter the age, they are still your child, and you are still their parent. Her grief was looming over her, it permeated her words and posture and so we talked. However, she was less concerned about her process but more so about her husband who seemed mute on the subject. She said that her husband had never grieved, that he had closed down and showed no emotion. This infuriated her, she was a jumble of emotion that could not be contained and often overflowed into tears. She could not understand how her husband was not dealing with their loss.
“Everyone does this their own way,” I tried to comfort her.
“No! He isn’t there for me, he isn’t even there for himself!” she wailed.
I had recently read a wonderful book about men and grief. It was an eye opener for me; although I don’t like to generalize people’s journeys I will say on the whole men do process grief differently. I brought her a copy of this wonderful book “When Men Grieve” by Elizabeth Levang. After she read it she began to understand the signs that had alluded to her husband’s pain, he indeed had been grieving, she had just not been able to recognize it. It quite literally saved her marriage.
So I offer you this book, for those of you who are female you may be enlightened, perhaps, and for those of you who are male you may recognize yourself and accept your very personal journey. And may we help each other along the way in love.