Friday, May 20, 2011
How Do Men Grieve?
I spent a week staying with a friend whose wife died from acute myeloid leukemia two months ago. He is, of course, bereft, but shows it in ways that are not like the womenfolk I know who have lost partners. I am used to women really crying, with all their sisters, and being somewhat immobilized if work and children permit that. Women also look sad and exhausted. Women also seem to know that grieving takes time and that being lost and lonely don't mean that you're stuck and not healing. Of course this isn't true for all women, but it is for many I have known.
My friend wants to be doing "better." And by better, I think he means getting back into life with vigor. After a few days of the sanctioned mourning period, he started going back to work for hours, then days, and now weeks. He socializes with friends many evenings during the week - friends who loved them both, and now sustain him. He started doing a vigorous training program to get back in shape and is running and eating well. There are pictures of his wife all over the house and he likes to engage in conversations about her. He asks, "Don't you think I am doing better?"
I know his heart is shattered and that he misses her with his entire soul. But his ways of grieving and engaging in life I find are somewhat foreign to me. So I ask myself, and you, the question: How do men grieve? I am very interested in your thoughts.