As we enter the holiday season, many of us struggle with how to manage our own grief as well as the grief of people we love. How should we include our loved one’s memory in our celebrations? How does our family feel about adding new traditions that our loved one did not get to experience? Are there things that are too painful to discuss at family holidays? When is it ok to cry?
While family members and friends may be grieving the loss of one specific individual, it is important to remember that each person’s grief journey is a unique and changing thing. No two people grieve in the same way, or at the same pace. Based on social cues and family traditions, men and women may find an extra challenge in understanding the grief experienced and expressed by the other gender. Our guest author today helps us to see these differences not as faults or flaws, but as nuances of grief that need to be recognized and considered as we each move towards healing. Rather than getting angry about our differences, we can learn to accept them as a part of the grieving process.
It is widely known that men and women grieve differently and being in a relationship with someone who has lost a loved one can be particularly challenging, be it from a male or female perspective. Whether you are both grieving together or in a new relationship with someone who is grieving ’alone’ this information may help you to traverse the journey together.
If you are a man, you may want to take away her hurt and make her feel better, most often by distraction or trying to lighten her mood. In an attempt to remove her pain, you may however be denying her the ability to express her feelings and emotions in a safe way. Women need to talk and express how they feel; it is natural to them, it is what they do. Remember, you don’t have to solve anything. It can also be excruciatingly uncomfortable to be with your partner who is crying and your natural response may be to try and deflect this in some way. This action may serve also, to protect yourself from your own vulnerabilities in relation to the expression of such a strong emotion. She is processing grief in her own way, as a woman.
If you are a woman, you may want him to talk about his feelings and wonder why he doesn’t even seem to care or shed a tear. You might be amazed that he wants to make love to you at a time when it is the last thing on your mind or spend hours out in the shed, keeping as busy as possible. Men generally process and respond to their grief very privately and actively, they like to keep busy. You may not see the occasions where they do cry just like you do, they feel the pain just as much, but express it in different ways – they still hurt. You may notice that he is flying off the handle at the slightest thing or muttering and swearing at the lawnmower that wont ‘go’ – men are more likely to be angry when they are grieving. As women that may be an uncomfortable emotion to witness. He is processing grief in his own way, as a man.
Whichever way you deal with grief, try to nurture and support each other during such an extremely difficult time:
♥ Be near – in physical and emotional closeness, sexual or otherwise
♥ Refrain from offering solutions or becoming judgmental
♥ Listen without interrupting
♥ A silent comforting hug heals much
♥ Remember significant difficult days – birthdays, anniversaries
♥ Understand that grief never ends, the individual person simply adapts over time
♥ Invest in your relationship – take the time for whats important
♥ Value talking
♥ Love generously
This article was first published by Esdeer. Maureen’s free inspirational guide “Opening the Door to Hope: Helping you Step through Grief” is available here: www.esdeer.com/hope.