Regarding men and women grieving differently: Almost 7-years-old my father died of cancer. My husband and I were both only 20 and my brother was 17-years-old. I actually wrote a book on the whole experience, Walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death (Copyright 2009, AEG Publishing). But as far as grieving differently, I think the best comparison would be my brother versus me after my dad’s death.
In talking with everyone, we all had similar emotions: anger, sadness, despair, listlessness, depression, anxiety, etc. We even had similar experiences: Feeling like no one cared after two weeks, being alone, being expected to be “over it” and so on.
However, where we differed was how we expressed those emotions. My brother right away became stoic, almost as hard as a rock, not wanting to hurt. He stuffed his feelings and sadness away, especially when he went back to his high school and no one cared (even though his whole class knew he had just lost his dad). No one caring further validated his stoic nature. This led to him eventually having some health problems later that year that, I believe, were because of him stuffing his emotions. He eventually fell into some destructive behavior when he went to college (I think trying to self-medicate), never finishing his degree, and he is now still reaping some of the consequences of that behavior.
Whereas I talked to anyone who would listen. Even if no one cared, I didn’t let that phase me. I would about grab a person off of the street and tell them about my dad’s death (not literally, but it seemed that it was the way I was at first). I was in college during that time, and I had some really compassionate professors who would check in on me and listen to me, too. When I had to tell them I needed to miss class for my dad’s internment, their faces dropped and they were glad to talk with me. I eventually went to a grief group where I could continue talking and was surrounded by others who knew what I felt even though some of their losses were different. We all had similar emotions even if the circumstances were different, and that was comforting. I finished my degree, have been able to help my mom rebuild her life and I wrote my book, which further helped me heal.
So to sum up, he stuffed his emotions, which only led to more pain whereas I talked with people and found lots of healing, even if some of my talking “fell on deaf ears”.
Kimberly R. Carolan
Author, check out my new book at:
Publisher’s webpage: http://www.strategicbookpublishing.com/WalkingThroughTheValleyOfTheShadowOfDeath.html