Masculine/Feminine Grief

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DIFFERENT GRIEF REACTIONS

Grief can come from the death of a spouse, child, elderly parent, last parent (therefore you are an orphan), a sibiling, relative or friend.

Gender (male and female) grief reaction are based on:

Conditioning by society into expected roles. Though we generally believe that men and women will grieve differently – each will use parts of both maculine and feminine grieving methods.

THE MOST COMMON DIFFICULTY WITH MEN AND WOMEN IS lack of communication and understanding of each other’s grief reactions and needs.

MASCULINE GRIEF REACTIONS

1. THE LEADER ROLE: It may bring feelings of ‘failure’, as expectations may be that “I can look after my family.” He may defer his own grief needs in an effort to “Lead the family through this.”

2. LOVING PROTECTOR: The family ‘needs to be shielded from all hurt and harm’ therefore by adopting a loving protector role he may try to stop his wife and other children from grieving to protect them.

a) PROVIDER: May return to work soon after a loss in an effort to resume ‘normal life’ this can result in; automatic pilot due to endorphins giving an impression ‘I’m OK’. Really feels very isolated unable to communicate with friends as an impression of coping has been established.

b) PROBLEM SOLVER: Man is expected to ‘fix things’ but is unable to deal with his own needs let alone the family ….. inadequate.

c) TOWER OF STRENGTH: Most men will suppress their own feelings ‘Big boys don’t cry’ This can lead to hostility and ill health.

N.B. Wife may feel ‘he doesn’t care’ as he does not share grief..

3. LOSS OF DIRECTION: The loss and change means plans need to be reassessed. A new life direction may be needed. The loss of finances, health, dreams and goals.

4. ESCAPING: When the pain of grief is overwhelming, the familiar things; wife, children … bring pain, so he seeks substitutes; work, service clubs, selling the house, etc. due to feelings of helplessness and loneliness.

Feminine Grief Reactions

1. EMOTIONAL CONFUSION: Feelings of denial and basic ‘Survival reactions’ continue for some time: denial. anger, guilt, emptiness and depression.

2. NEED TO TALK: Is overwhelming to deal with the feelings above. Conflict arises when people don’t listen or husband discourages .. .’it will only upset you.

3. ROUTINE & MEMORIES, THE NURSE ROLE: The emptiness when she returns home can be devastating: no purpose in life any more. ‘The guilt ‘What did I do wrong.’

4. ‘UNUSUAL EXPERIENCES’ These are common. Seeing the deceased person. This is ‘scary’ … Am I going crazy?

5. LOSS AND LONELINESS: ‘Part of me is missing’, no one left to care for. It can be difficult to console other family members and not exclude them from her feelings.

© Gizelle Forgie 2014

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