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.