Men and Grief


My first encounter with men and grief was at my grandmother’s funeral.  My uncle, an imposing figure sheathed in dark sunglasses sat solemnly.  I could hardly contain myself and screamed like a banshee periodically throughout the service.  That was until my uncle slowly turned to me and said No more outbursts in a slightly menancing tone.  I knew he had had his own private spell the night before as I overhead his wife telling my mother and her sisters all about it.  I cried silently for the remainder of the service. 

Over the years I’ve observed the males in my family and the way they handle grief.  Some avoid funerals.  My cousin did not attend my mother’s and when I inquired why, he shrugged and said I can’t do it–too many in this family.  Other cousins missed funerals I guess for the same reason. 

At the hospital when I talked to my siblings about the severity of our mother’s illness, my brother (Jazmine’s father) immediatedly asked that someone take him to the store.  By the time they returned to the hospital, my mother had died.  His responded to the news by walking the halls taking long swigs from a fifth of gin.

The night my husband died three of his very closest childhood friends met me at the hospital.  I knew there would be tears but I was surprised by the depth of emotions emanating from them.  All I could hear were loud, heaving sobs coming from the trio.  One of my coworkers who attended the funeral said that she was astounded at how many of my husband’s friends were openly crying.  That’s what broke me down; seeing all those young guys crying like that she said to me days later.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

So why is it uncomforatble for his friends and male family members to hear me grieve?  They call and check on me and stop by on occassion.  But I can tell they can’t handle the tears.  They don’t know what to say to me.  Last night his friend Corey called but I didn’t bother to answer the phone.  I don’t want to pretend that I am okay to spare anybody’s feelings.  Why they would even think I am okay puzzles me.  I want to scream to them all–NO, I AM NOT OKAY–SO STOP ASKING!  IF YOU CAN’T HANDLE ME NOT BEING OKAY, THEN DON”T CALL TO SEE IF I AM OKAY!  But I know that they mean well and I appreciate that they are even checking on me at all…

My SIL texted me last night to see how we’ve been getting along.  She said she was doing okay.  I replied that I was glad she was because I wasn’t and I let her know how I was REALLY doing.  She seemed relieved and responded that she wasn’t doing well either, but she didn’t want to upset me.  I feel more comfortable sharing my true feelings with the women that I am close with because they can handle it.

I know males are reared in a society in which they are often told that men don’t cry.  This has always been silly to me because most beings with tear ducts cry.  Crying is cleansing.  It is a way to purge the soul of toxins such as sadness. 

While I try not to cry too much in front of my son, I do let him know that it is okay to cry and that some things are worth crying for.

6 responses »

  1. Men do grieve in different ways. My uncle was taken to the hospital’s mental ward the night my grandfather died. He just lost it and talked about killing himself over and over again. This same uncle loses it any time a family member passes.

    Last week our cousin passed. Everyone was calling to make sure no one told him until he was at home with his wife and mother. Surprisingly he held it together this time.

    My brother does not like going to funerals at all. He would be so upset at my mom when we younger for making him go.

    In 2007 when my mother-in-law passed my husband was with her. He called me about 2:00am to say “She’s gone.” and he hung up on me. I rushed over there. When I arrived the medical team was there along with his sisters. My husband was in the corner on the floor sobbing and holding on to the door frame. He didn’t want to leave the house. I just sat with him and rubbed his back until he calmed.

    He broke down at her funeral. Sometimes when he gets back from going to visit her grave, I can tell he has been crying. He always has the same reply when I reach to hug him, “I’m Ok!”

    Death is hard to deal with for anyone. We all grieve in our own ways. I do not like going to funerals either. It’s just so sad! My husband comforts me whenever I lose someone close. He tells me not to cry and that everything will be alright. Men do not like to see women cry. Period. I have heard so many men say this, no matter the situation.

    It’s harder to deal with when a woman is grieving. Men are viewed as the stronger being and I think they have a hard time trying to figure out how to comfort a woman.

    Sorry, I didn’t plan on writing that much!

  2. I was raised by a father who wasn’t afraid of showing his emotions. Whether they were good or bad emotions. So my immediate family is very open with feelings. My husband on the other hand was raised “men don’t cry.” I thank the Lord that both my boys can cry when they need to. I think it helps by getting it out.

  3. When I was married to my ex-husband, we lost his 17 year old younger brother in a horrific vehicle accident. My husband, at the time, and his 4 brothers cried, and were very emotional, but never once tried to comfort each other. Their father never once shed a tear, in public, and remained stoic the entire time.

    My current husband, on the other hand, is very sensitive, and even cries from time to time. I think it’s absurd for anyone to try to store their emotions.

    Men that cry are emotionally healthy. And, men whom allow someone else to cry, and comfort them are even more emotionally healthy. We all cry, we’re not robots. We have to allow ourselves to feel our emotions and cycle through them. If we don’t do this, we’ll have some major issues!

    Of course you’re not fine, Morocco, who would be with what you’ve been through. It’s okay to not be fine, and it’s okay to say that you’re not fine, just because that’s what people really want to hear.

    This was a great post, Morocco, thank you for brining it to light.

  4. You are right, it is cleansing to cry. And it is best to be honest with people when they ask if you are okay. If you are not okay, then by all means let them know that. That way, they can be ready to help then or in the future when you might need it.

    I do enjoy reading all of your insights. The sympathy/symphony post made me laugh. Hang in there, you are going to be okay.

  5. I agree that men have a hard time showing emotion. However, I do see that slowly changing. As they are more involved with their children today, more then ever. That is a good thing.

    I also agree that woman have a much easier time releasing emotions. We don’t or shouldn’t feel bad about that. If we are happy we smile, if we are sad we cry etc. Emotions are healthy to release because you are experiencing them for a reason.

    Many people don’t know how to handle grief, and men are more uncomfortable with this. If you are honest like kweenmama said, then they know how to respond to you. Grieving is an individual process, and you will handle it your way. You are a very strong lady, and this blog is excellent for you to vent away.

  6. During our time together my husband lost his uncle, father, paternal grandparents, and a host of cousins on top of the people in my family. We both lost friends of the family in between as well. I think my husband handled his grief in a healthy manner. He rarely cried in public, but at home he did. But he had the mindset of David from the Bible in that he knew his loved ones could not return to him but he could one day be with them.

    In my periods of mourning he was there to hold my hand and hold me up. He really hated to see me cry, too and did all he could to comfort me during those times. I felt safe expressing my feelings to him. He never made me feel bad for being sad.

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