Although grief is a universal emotion, not everyone responds to it in the same way. According to research, certain factors such as biology and socialization tend to influence these different ways of grieving. This explains partly why men and women tend to go through the experience of grieving in outwardly dissimilar ways.
But how do men and women deal concretely with loss, especially the permanent kind of loss brought about by death? How do couples and families find the best way to show sympathy without fear of rejection and judgment?
Women in Open Grief and Emotional Loss
While it is clear that both men and women suffer through grief internally, they may express it in different, often opposite, ways. Women are more attuned to intuitive grieving, where emotions are laid out in the open through crying, talking, or even shouting. Although not all women will approach grief in this way, it is still a common pattern as women tend to be more naturally expressive and emotionally open than men. Most women also find these ways of grieving as cathartic, so that they are more willing to seek out support groups and counseling.
Nonetheless, women can also express grief through instrumental grieving, where they engage in activities that bring meaning to their pain and loss. These activities can be as simple as the creation of a memory garden or something as important as seeking more funding for a certain illness or health condition.
Men and Their Stoic, Silent Way of Grieving
Compared to women, men tend to grieve more silently and privately. Perhaps this may be attributed to their roles within the family as both pillar and provider, so that emotional or intuitive grieving doesn’t come as natural to them as it does for most women.
Societal norms also expect men to be more in control of their feelings, so that seeking help can be construed as acknowledging emotional weakness. Nonetheless, these detached ways of grieving doesn’t always apply to all men. Some men initially approach grief intuitively, and eventually shifts into the more instrumental way of mourning as practical responsibilities arise. In recognizing the need for men to get helpful emotional support at a time of loss, there are now support groups that cater specifically to grieving husbands, fathers, and brothers among others.
The Complexity of Grief and Grieving
Sometimes, ways of grieving can manifest themselves differently at the beginning, regardless of familiar roles or societal expectations. Just because a husband or father doesn’t speak openly about his grief doesn’t mean he is not suffering. There are also women who appear to be more withdrawn, and would either choose to stay isolated in their loss or eventually open up as support and sympathy become more accessible.
In a nutshell, grief is layered, complex, and challenging. And although men and women can respond to it in varied ways, it remains to be a universally common emotion that all human beings need to process through. Friends and family can show their support by being physically present and providing accessible avenues for comfort and healing.
When it comes to showing sympathy to a grieving friend or colleague, words may not always suffice. This is why you can always show your love through sympathy gifts. Here at the Comfort Company, we specialize in unique sympathy tokens that speak to the varied and many ways of grieving.
To check out selections today, click here.