4650 W 20th Street, Greeley, CO 80634
I recently read a book that discussed America’s Individualism; what is sometimes called, “the self-made-man (or woman).” It’s the belief that whatever we do, however our lives turn out, it’s because of our own efforts and hard work–or lack thereof. The influence of individualism can be seen in many aspects of our lives, including grief. Because “we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps,” there’s an unspoken message in society that we need to “just get over” our grief. Added to this is the fact that we are uncomfortable around grief, so we find ourselves at a loss as to what to say. The result? We (often unknowingly) say the wrong thing and/or offer platitudes–or say nothing, and we distance ourselves from the person grieving. It’s not that we don’t care about the person–we do! We just don’t know what to do, and fall back on that individualistic belief “you need to get over this and get back to being yourself.” But anyone who has grieved knows that there is no getting back to your old self–what you have to find is “your new self.”
For the most part, men and women grieve differently, as men and women are taught by our society to handle their feelings differently. Most women seek to talk and express feelings, whereas most men are more likely to seek to “solve.” Men often put “thinking and solving” before “feeling and talking.” They feel every bit as deeply, but expressing it can be difficult. This hearkens back to society telling men they need to be self-reliant–to take care of their own needs. Women, who are freer to express their emotions–at least in the beginning, often believe that others can help them and are used to sharing with others. Men have friends that they do things with; women have friends that they share things with. When grief happens, women are more likely to seek a support group, whereas men tend to grieve alone. Men often perceive that their grief is their own problem to solve.
This is not to say we don’t have men in our programs. We do. First, we encourage them (and everyone) to come to our Understanding Grief class, taught the first Tuesday of every month. This program teaches about the symptoms and stresses of grief—and it’s brilliantly presented in a non-talking format. All you have to do is come and listen—you only speak if you decide to ask a question. A follow-on to this is a drop-in grief support group the next Tuesday for those who have attend a class and have decided they would like to share about their grief experiences with other mourners—people who get it. We do know through many studies that what is most helpful to grievers is sharing their loss with others who are walking the same path—the companionship is validating and healing.
Out second program we find men in, is our Blended Support Group. This is a closed group—meaning you start and finish with the same people, both men and women. It’s eight weeks in length, and is based on a progressive model of helping each other, guided by trained facilitators. A lot of our widowers find this group to be useful and encouraging—filed with willing listeners dealing with the same issues. But it’s not strictly related to spouse loss. We have other mourners who participate as well—some who have lost siblings or parents. The feedback from these groups show that the help our grievers receive is doing just that—helping!
We have several other programs as well designed to help specific mourning. Please check out this website to see what fits for you. And remember—all of our services are free.