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Knowing that men often receive a lifetime of conditioning to be strong, be the provider, be successful, and be the one that other people lean on,  stereotypes sometimes play a role in men’s ability to experience grief and seek support when needed. Men often don’t want to appear weak and “want to deal with and conquer their grief demon by themselves.” Sometimes the put on the stoic mask to be the strong one for others and “bury the grief.”


In Tom Gordon’s Swallowed by a Snake: Honoring Men’s Path to Healing,[1] he explores concepts like unconscious grieving, a process whereby men sometimes avoid intentional mourning but grieve in ways they don’t expect. Golden encourages men to grieve together, emphasizing that “gender differences exist and need to be honored.” He suggests that men develop their own rituals for mourning and recommends that they consider how their strength as men aid the healing process rather than hamper it.


Solutions: Opportunities for Men to Support Men


In our research (Acknowledgement: project partner Franklin Cook) Many men reported (81%) that they felt men and women grieve differently (“quite a bit” to “a lot”), and the majority felt strongly that men should have special programs to deal with their grief (25% weren’t sure). Male peer support was often desired in grieving process (79%), and 67% said they would be willing to help other men bereaved by suicide. Many who said they couldn’t support other men were still to early in healing process to provide help for others. Those who were able to assist others indicated that helping others helps themselves.

[1] Gordon, T. (1996) Swallowed by a snake: The gift of the masculine side of healing. Gaithersburg, Md.: Golden Healing Publishing.