16th August 2022
Having worked with many men of all ages during my time as a bereavement counsellor in Harrogate, I know first-hand how difficult it can be for men to process someone dying or losing something particularly important to them. Despite the increase in awareness around men’s mental health in recent years, it is still unfortunately the case that men find it extremely difficult to properly open up - even to therapists like myself.
The grieving process is a deeply complicated, personal one, and this is especially the case for men who have always struggled to articulate their thoughts and feelings. The road to a better place can be long; often we don’t understand how best to help men on this journey. To increase awareness of men and the grieving process, this blog post looks at a couple of features of male grief that we should understand better.
Of course, anger is by no means exclusive to men, but this emotion does present itself often with men who have recently suffered a painful loss of some kind. It can seem, from the outside, that the man is just being unpleasant as a way of showing authority, gaining control over a situation.
The truth is that anger is far more complex than that. When we don’t have the words to articulate our true feelings, when we’ve never been given the space to vocalise how we genuinely feel, what ends up spilling out is anger. It is a sign that someone can’t put something into words, for whatever reason. Giving men the space to talk things through, in their own time and in their own way, is therefore very important.
When it comes to male grief, an even more common phenomenon than anger is isolation. This problem extends far beyond bereavement; it is something that men struggle with the world over, compounding mental health issues like depression, low self-esteem, addiction, or anxiety.
There is a strong tendency among men to shut off their feelings and keep everyone at arm’s length. This is seen often within the context of the family unit, where the man has to “stay strong” for the rest of the family, at the expense of their own wellbeing. This becomes a pattern, where men automatically keep thoughts to themselves and become marooned on an island of their own repressed emotions, which ultimately spill out in some other way, such as addiction, violence, or even suicide.
If you are a man who has recently suffered a bereavement and feel alone with your emotions, or unable to express them, I am here to provide a space where you can explore these feelings at a time and pace that suits you. To learn more about my confidential bereavement counselling in Harrogate and online, please do get in touch via phone or email.