From Closing the Final Chapter
Several decades ago, men in western culture who openly displayed their emotions were viewed as being weak, a sissy or a ‘sook’. Although these strong male views still exist in some places today, increasingly men have become more open with their emotions and in doing so are letting the tears flow more readily.
When a man’s wife, partner, child or close family member/best friend dies, the intense feelings of loss, grief and aloneness are profound emotions for anyone, but, if these feelings are suppressed and bottled up as some men do, it can make the grief even more intense and painful.
Although releasing pent up emotions is widely understood as being cathartic and extremely helpful, (we’re not talking violence here) many men are stoic and avoid dealing with their issues at all. It is not surprising then, that when a man does lose a partner or loved one after a long marriage or through death, it can be very hard for them to deal with that loss.
By ignoring the emotions surrounding their loss, this can sadly lead to grief being manifested later often through ill health including severe and debilitating depression.
How many men would even dare expose their raw emotions to their closest friend let alone to their ‘mates?”
Some men who answered the research questions for the book Wrapping It Up – The Ultimate Guide admitted they did cry, but quietly and away from others, and after doing so, they felt a great sense of release and relief.
Others said they wanted to cry and express their feelings but found it was all so strange and foreign that they held back their tears and would not even talk about how they were feeling. They just could not bring themselves to open up despite the pain.
Many expressed that writing down or typing out their feelings was very helpful in gaining a sense of dignity amid the emotional wreckage.
On another issue, when dealing with the loss of their wife, partner or loved one, and the time came to sort and wrap up all their possessions many men expressed similar views to those of women:
Others were perplexed and intimidated:
“Where am I going to begin?”
“Where do I start first, what do I do with it all, and where do I put it?”
Some conveyed very rich and poignant feelings:
“As a loving husband, I wanted to do the task myself. I prepared myself to address a task at a time and to work through it slowly, with no expectations of how long it would take. It was almost like my own private grieving ceremony. It was really good.”
“Don’t be surprised if you uncover some sad realisations, said one man, “I did and I wasn’t prepared for that. I realised my mother had been incapable of looking after herself for a long time.”
Here are a few examples of harsh realisations which some experienced.
They are enlightening and helpful stories:
“Recognise what your wife or partner did, the roles and responsibilities she undertook. There’s a perception that most men handle everything financial even writing cheques, but many men don’t, my wife handled all that.”
“Please alert your male readers … be aware, and don’t let yourself get in a terrible mess, bills everywhere, forgetting to pay them. Stay on top of expenses and the financials. Don’t let the home office get in a ‘hideous’ mess of strewn papers. I’ve been that way. If necessary get someone to help you, at least in the short term.” This is wise advice.
“Knowing where to locate our important documents was a joke,” said one man. “My wife was the organiser in the family, she was very tidy. She would always say, ‘I keep everything together darling’, but trying to find papers and bills took days. I was busy working in a very demanding job and all I wanted to do when I came home was have a beer and relax, I didn’t want to come home to more work.”
One Doctor commented:
“Organising our papers and documents, bills and correspondence was all handled by my wife. I had no idea where she put things. I was absolutely hopeless, I’m not an organiser.”
“I thought I knew all our friends and my wife’s friends, it was surprising to me to find many unfamiliar names in her telephone contact list. Also, she had a collection of old coins, I didn’t even know she was a collector.”
“Try to be kind to yourself, take time to get back to a life…socialise at your own pace, but do not be alone for long periods of time.”
“Take your time and go through everything, don’t throw it all out, but do give generously to charities. Be aware of the value of things, not just items of money value.”
• Do not be afraid to show your grief
• Talk to another person about your feelings
• Suppressing trauma can lead to health and depression issues
• Recognise and accept releasing emotions is cathartic and healthy
• Stay on top of home office matters, expenses and financials
• Take your time and go through everything, don’t hastily throw it all out
• Be kind to yourself, take time to get back to life
An excerpt from the book
Closing the Final Chapter
By Diana Todd-Banks