Friday, August 11, 2006

Why Doesn't He Cry?

I often wondered why my husband seemed so "together" and I was a sniffling, slobbering mess. Didn't he love our babies the same as me? At one point I convinced myself he didn't. The truth is, men just grieve differently than women. I know, I know. We hear that all the time, but here are a few insights into the male perspective. Hopefully this will help the ladies muster a bit of compassion for her mate and also feel a little less alone in her grief.

1. Things he may be thinking ... He may feel like he's carrying the weight of both your grief on his shoulders. He may think he'll make you feel worse by sharing his feelings or showing his emotions. He may long for things to go back to normal and for you to be happy. He may long for your tears to dry and your depression to fade. He may feel frustrated by your tears, constant sadness. He may feel like a failure. He may want to talk, but he's always forced to listen. He may feel forgetful or depressed. He may feel you've withdrawn your love and desire for him. He may resent the lack of intimacy and all the attention you're getting.

2. Society has trained men to behave a certain way. This often means that crying and public mourning are taboo. He's taught to be physically and emotionally strong, self-sufficient and unexpressive. He's been well trained to not seek help and to be a provider. As a result, sharing feelings may not come naturally. If this is true for you, try writing letters or have a "middle man" relay messages.

3. Your attachment to the baby may be different than his. Fathers tend to experience the pregnancy through what he can see, hear and feel. When a baby dies during early pregnancy, he has fewer experiences to connect the baby and self. His feelings may not grow as intense until near full-term or after the birth. He most likely sees the baby as an individual separate from himself whereas women may begin bonding from the moment that test comes back positive. She sees the baby as a part of herself; her thoughts are consumed by the baby and his or her well-being. Of course, every person is different, but this is the typical reaction.

4. His method of grieving isn't wrong. Yours isn't right. Sometimes our men have to contain their grief just to keep the household functional. Otherwise, while we're staring into space or stuck in bed, who else would tend to the bills, go to work, cook and take care of the surviving children? Some say the loss really hits the father after the one year anniversary. It is at this point that he may reflect (more often) on what he is missing. Feelings of anger, guilt and sadness may come out with intensity. Expect to take turns grieving.

5. Men redirect their energy. Sadness may surface as anger. Grief may be redirected to home improvement projects or problem-solving at home and work. He may become overly involved in sports, social groups or family affairs as a way of handling his loss.

WARNING SIGNS: Is your man struggling with his grief?

  • Over-involvement at work, church, other groups, friends, family
  • Increased alcohol or drugs
  • Over-indulgence and doting on a surviving child
  • No sexual activity for long periods of time
  • Lots of talking, little problem resolution
  • An affair

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I just wish he would hold me and cry with me! I just don't want to do this alone.