How Men Grieve
Months after Rick's father died, Rick's wife Cathy began to worry about her husband. "Rick has never cried or talked about his father's death," she says. "Now he spends all of his free time working on an old '58 Chevy he and his dad had bought right before he died. I'm worried that he's not handling his dad's death in a healthy way."Death may be a normal part of life, but grief can undermine how you move forward. You know how you handle grief, but if you don't know how people around you will handle it, then things can be come unstable and complicated very quickly.
Masculine and Feminine ResponsesWhat Cathy perceives as an unhealthy response is, in fact, a healthy one. Rick's behavior is typical of the way men handle loss. He is expressing his grief privately. By restoring the Chevy he is connecting to the pain to begin the healing process, as well as honoring his father's memory. Cathy, however, grieves from the feminine side by crying and talking with family and friends.While women typically express and share their grief and look to the past, most men won't verbalize their pain and often deny they are sad. They are also more likely to take action, such as setting up a trust fund or creating a memorial.Men are taught to hide their tears, and to replace their sadness with anger. As a result, men may initially experience the strength of their anger before they begin to shed their tears.Conversely, women are the opposite. They have been taught not to express their anger, so they use the strength of tears.